The Property: Queens Court Penthouses (St John’s Wood, London)
The Client: Seqoya
Queens Court is a 1960s residential block in St Johns Wood. Developers Seqoya bought the top floor with air rights that, with subsequent planning permission, allowed them to create an extra floor-and-a-half above. The result is two luxury penthouses – Hyperion and Vertice – that combine amazing views with first class specification and finishes. Seqoya also refurbished the exterior and common parts of the entire building.
When we were asked to film the penthouses, both apartments had already been sold. So we immediately identified that the client’s requirements were above and beyond a luxury property tour. As well as using high-end craft to showcase the incredible space and finish, this video needed to tell the story of Seqoya’s brand; a brand that leaves investors no doubt that this developer is at the very top of its league, and delivers time and time again.
So how, as filmmakers, do we capture the essence of a brand? Firstly we get to know the client, and the product. We have worked with Seqoya since 2009 so we already had a pretty good sense of what they were about. Yet every property is different, so we also did a thorough ‘recce’ of both apartments, to get a keen idea of bespoke features, layout and light.
This mental mapping is incredibly important for a film at this level. It allows us to start editing the story in our heads before bringing the camera in. We can then develop a strong narrative line to be agreed with our customer.
In this case the chosen emphasis was to capture the expertise of the design and development team. This needed to encompass both the quality of the end result, and the superb project management credentials. With this in mind, a series of interviews with the selling agents should drive the narrative. In films like this, testimony from a client’s CEO has its place, but a third party endorsement is even more valuable.
Visually, we could be less literal than a traditional property tour. We need not show every room. Instead we give an impression of the look, feel and quality of the scheme and the luxury lifestyle it offers. Seqoya deliver the whole package – architecture, interior design and building management – so the big wide hero shot of the living room, the close-up of a leather-lined cuff-link drawer and the shot of the uniformed concierge must all fall seamlessly into a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
The word ‘seamless’ is key here. It’s only seamless because behind the scenes we work tirelessly to get it right, and use many years of experience to use workarounds when conditions are less than ideal. The fantastic views you see only came after a patient wait for the dew to clear from the glass balconies, when the London sun was being particularly reluctant. We filmed it three times before the perfectionist in us was satisfied.
To present rooms perfectly involves a dance you must play with light, stylists and a host of tradesman each with their own agendas, tool bags and ladders. As is often case with property of this type, there was a narrow window for filming between near completion and handover. The finished film shows a graceful gliding shot. In reality you’ve only just managed to frame out the trailing wires of the AV guy, dodged a French Polisher and are only half a room behind the cleaner.
Our estimated two days filming was spot on for this shoot, and allowed us to showcase both apartments during the day and night, plus some great lifestyle shots of the surrounding St John’s Wood. The result was five hours of footage to make a four minute film. Five hours sounds a lot (is a lot!) but it’s all shot for a reason. It’s crucial to have options to craft a smooth, flowing film. Pans and tilts must go both ways and then stop cleanly at a certain point. Track and dolly gliding shots must be exactly the right speed and smoothness. And all shots must be perfect. If they’re not, we’ll repeat them until they are. That’s what it takes to make an expertly crafted film of this calibre. A film designed to reflect and enhance the standards of the product and the client it serves.
Rob McGregor, MD, Seqoya:
"Firstly having used Beeston Media for our previous property marketing movies, and corporate movie, it seemed the right course of action to use them again. The brief for these luxury high end apartments was quite simple, in that the movie should make them appear as fantastic as they did in real life. To this end Beeston Media have exceeded all our expectations and we truly believe that the movie created was excellent.
"Moreover their method of asking the right and most pertinent questions of the interviewees extracted unprompted commentary that clearly exposed how the marketing agents truly felt about these properties. Once again we are thrilled at the result and we look forward to working with Beeston Media on our future projects."