Jennifer Ferrell interviews SmartPak’s Sarah Paull about the story behind the wildly popular web video series.
Raise your hand if you’ve watched the SmartPak “Stuff Riders Say” videos? Raise them higher you’ve watched them two, three or even seven times (there is no judging here).
“The Rider” who stars in all three videos is Sarah Paull, Assistant Brand Manager at SmartPak. Sarah graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the videos ranging from what inspired them to whether we’ll see more in the future. She also gave us the scoop (intentional supplement pun) on what goes on behind the scenes and the hoof sniff seen around the world:
Who came up with the idea of the videos? I was laying in bed one morning before work (I promise this is going somewhere…) scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. A friend had shared a video “(insert four-letter word for ‘stuff’) Nobody Says” and as I chuckled through the jokes, I found myself thinking, “This dude totally gets me.” That’s when it first clicked. At SmartPak, we’re fond of telling riders, “We get you because we are you,” and these videos gave us the chance to let our actions speak louder than our words.
How many people does it take to produce a video (feel free to name names if you’d like–I”m happy to give everyone involved a little credit) and how long does it take from start to finish? The fabulous SmartPakers who braved the cold with me are: Sara (Creative Director, eventer), Emily (Marketing Coordinator, dressage rider) and Bjorn (Interactive Developer, horse newbie). We shot a lot of scenes for multiple episodes (and a lot of scenes that got cut) each time out, so we’re usually looking at about four hours in the barn. (Though it’s worth noting that we do a lot of goofing off.) Then it’s about an hour or so of editing before a new episode is ready to go.
Who is the horse in the video? Is he yours? I wish! The very handsome chestnut gelding featured in majority of the shots is named Carpe Diem. He belongs to my very good friend Sara, who also happens to be SmartPak’s Creative Director. The bay horse who makes an appearance in Episode 2 belongs to Sara’s trainer, Erin Risso, and his name is Beacon. Both Diem and Beacon love eventing.
Given the tremendous number of suggestions on the SmartPak Facebook page, it seems there is a lot of material out there. Will there be more videos? It’s tough to say–we’re going to play it by ear. We posted a third episode last week with a little twist to keep it fresh. Instead of things you always hear in the barn, we put together “Stuff No Rider Says,” and our customers and Facebook fans loved it (some saying they preferred it to the originals). We’ve got a couple more ideas that have got us giggling, so be sure to watch our Facebook page for more.
In the most recent video, you say, “You know, I think I have enough bridles.” How many bridles do you own? Oh goodness! This is going to get embarrassing. I still have my pony bridles from when I was really young, and I showed on the AQHA circuit as a kid, so I have all my western bridles, too. Then I started collecting bridles in high school and college… Thirteen? Sounds about right. My parents must be so proud
How were you selected as The Rider for the videos? This started out as a silly little ide–just Sara, Emily and me at the barn on a Saturday afternoon. I’ve always been really comfortable on camera (I think it goes back to some very dramatic “films” my sisters and I used to make as kids). Previously, I’d filmed SmartPak’s How to Fit a Bridle video and this year’s SmartPak Commercial, so I knew I could talk on camera without seeming too stiff or awkward. And since I was the one who gathered the suggestions and made the “script,” I really felt like I could hear the words in my head.
That said, I was really unsure how it was going to go. I’m no actor, just a rider who has said all these things before, so I figured, “Yeah, I can do this.” But as we got ready to roll, I suddenly realized I had no clue what I was doing. When Sara said “action,” I just went for it, leaning out of the feed room and hollering “Has anyone seen the duct tape?” like I have a hundred times before. Sara instantly burst out laughing–that was the first moment I knew this was going to be awesome. As we shared the videos with more riders around the office during the editing process, the genuine laughs and the “Ohmygosh that’s totally me!” comments convinced me that if we could find a way to get riders to watch it, there was no way they wouldn’t love it.
Any other ‘behind-the-scenes’ tidbits fans should know?
- We shot the whole series on my iPhone 4S with no light or sound equipment.
- This is a little embarrassing, but also kind of hilarious–the first day out, Sara, Emily and I shot the shot thing vertically, instead of in the much-preferred 16:9 landscape format. You’d think we’d never seen the internet before or something. The whole time I was editing the clips, I didn’t notice anything wrong. It wasn’t until I uploaded it to YouTube that I realized what we’d done. I had to immediately take it down, and then for some inexplicable reason I shared this story with our web team, and I don’t think I’ll ever live it down (that’s how Bjorn ended up on the re-shoot team) (though it’s worth noting that he held it wrong once, too! …but just for one take).
- Diem’s hooves actually smell quite nice.
- I did not have to mess up my hair at all. That is what my helmet hair looks like.
- For the “panty line” shot, it was hard to get it to be obvious and visible enough for the viewer to pick it up that fast, so after trying a bunch of different things, I ended up with half of a lead rope down my pants.
- We had to re-shoot several takes because either Bjorn or Sara would start laughing before the clip cut out.
- You can check out two behind-the-scenes blogs from Bjorn, our director, to see what it was like from a non-riders perspective, on the SmartPak blog here and here.
More information about SmartPak and its products and videos can be found at www.smartpak.com.
About Jennifer: I live, work and ride in Northern Virginia and have one horse and two basset hounds on my payroll.
Originally published Feb. 15, 2012.