Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sneak peek at Achievement Award winners

It’s spring and that means the Association is gearing up for its Annual Meeting July 14 – 17 in Charleston. One of the meeting highlights is always the sold-out Achievement Awards breakfast on Saturday morning.

For more than 20 years, the awards breakfast has featured the winners in a series of videos that tells the story of these projects. While the video presentations run about three minutes for each winner, the behind-the-scenes production process rivals a full-length movie (well almost).

The Association works with a production company out of Columbia, Dust of the Ground, to produce these videos. The company’s videographers spend the better part of three weeks each May traveling the state with Association staff shooting the winning cities’ stories of their projects. The Association staff and video crew spend a full day in each winning city to document the project.

“Despite meticulously laid plans for each visit, we never know exactly what we will find when we arrive,” said Meredith Houck, the Association’s creative services and website manager who produces the video series. “Experiences we’ve had filming these videos over the years have included everything from bulldozing buildings to tracking bobcats to corralling dogs in costume.”

This year, the cast of extras at the Isle of Palms taping included a dozen or so dogs that had participated in the town’s winning project, Doggie Day at the Rec. The dogs were filmed parading around the town’s rec center in their winning costumes and visiting the beach for an off-leash romp. 
All humans who participate in the production sign release forms, but at the Isle of Palms filming, the dogs signed releases, too.

Another frequent highlight is experiencing the hidden gems in cities. “One of my favorite surprises of this year’s taping trips was the incredible view we got to enjoy while filming in Seneca’s new water treatment plant,” said Reba Campbell, the Association’s deputy executive director. “Situated on Lake Keowee in Seneca, the water treatment plant is more than just a practical facility. It’s also a beautiful community meeting space for the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Florence’s winning entry involved moving an unsightly junkyard from the center of town. “During the filming, we discovered one of the pieces of junk removed from the junkyard was a plane fuselage,” Meredith said.

Upon arrival in Fountain Inn's city hall, the crew was greeted by Cities Mean Business banners that the city had localized for its own use.

 A daily highlight of these production trips is the decision on where to get a good local lunch. The crew always opts for local joints that showcase the city’s unique food options. 

“During our day on Edisto Island, we got to join the mayor and town staff at a hole-in-the wall restaurant the mayor told us mainly locals know about,” Reba said. “The food was great, but so was the ‘Cheers factor’ of this place where the mayor knew the name of everyone who walked in.” 

Tickets for the awards breakfast will be sold during the June 1 and 2 Annual Meeting registration appointments. Cities must sign up by May 17 to participate in the lottery that determines the order of registration appointments. More information about the Annual Meeting registration process is here.

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