For this month’s In Focus, we sat down with Lily Smith, Video Producer for Concierge Auctions, a marketplace for buying and selling the world’s finest properties, as well as a multiple Telly Award winner!

Lily has the enviable job of creating marketing film’s for some of the world’s most incredible homes, overseeing everything from concept to post-production.

Lily recently recently produced a short documentary on Concierge Auctions’ Key For Key™ giving program, which provides a new home for a family in need for every home we sell. The documentary depicts the stories of the families that received homes through their partnership with Giveback Homes and TECHO El Salvador, and the impact that these homes have on the community at large.

Prior to Concierge Auctions, Lily pursued multiple documentary media projects whose topics centered around a number of community-led initiatives around Austin. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film from The University of Texas at Austin

How does your creative process with these homes begin? Do you let the physical properties and their histories spike your creativity, or do you bring them to life with broader ideas that you have prior?

Before our team gets into our creative process, we research each property and storyline. Ideas come to us based on our initial observations, feelings, and the information we’ve gathered about the home. Because our buyers live around the globe, we strive to evoke what we believe is the desired lifestyle of the home and area. It’s crucial for us to understand why the owners care about their home and what makes their home special in order for us to help find someone who will appreciate it as much as they do. All of the properties we market differ in story, landscape, and ways to entertain. Oftentimes, the home shows its own story, whether it’s a place for raising a family, a place to unwind on vacation, or a significant historic treasure. 

What has the ability to use aerial videography done for your creative process? 

Aerial videography is key to our films because it shows the homes in their totality and from all  angles. The landscape and surrounding areas, the community, the views they can share with their families—aerial footage gives a buyer a complete sense of the property, because you’re seeing it in a light that potential buyers might not see from a typical walk-through tour. Sunrise and sunset shots are some of the most important aspects we make sure to capture on every shoot, so the viewer can imagine waking up with these views. There’s a tranquil quality to these shots, and the color adds a layer of warmth to the physical structure of the home. 

Instead of just focusing your content around a purchase of the physical, you incorporate human aspects and elements of the surrounding lifestyles, into your winning pieces. Is this a deliberate part of your strategy and how do you think it influences potential buyers?

With our films, we strive to give our potential buyers a visceral sense of what it would feel like to live in these spaces. There are a few different ways we incorporate human aspects into our films. 

For example, we had a property in Hawaii that was owned by the same family for five generations, and it was even once used as a retreat for King Kamehameha III, so it had a lot of history and significance to the sellers, and to Hawaiian culture as a whole. We filmed the seller walking barefoot across the grounds as she told the story of her family’s legacy as it relates to this sacred land in Hawaii. We incorporated these really intimate moments, like her smelling the flowers from the centuries-old established garden, wading through the waters at the bottom the 50-foot waterfall on the property — all as she’s describing the property’s “mana,” or essence. In this case, we wanted the seller to tell her own story in order to attract a buyer who would also find value in the rich history and unique characteristics of this property.

In other instances, we work with talent to set the mood and create a lifestyle for what we believe is fitting for the home and location. In our other winning piece, The Cragwood Estate in New Jersey, the owners shared archival photos of the home from the 1900s with our team so we aimed to emphasize the historic nature and perfectly preserved condition of the home, as we believed this would be appealing to the potential buyer. The script follows a little girl who explores the different spaces of the home trying to match the photos to the rooms in current day. We sparked curiosity in the viewer by pairing building music with the girl discovering the photos, admiring the details of the architecture, and taking the viewer through each room with a childlike energy and enthusiasm. The occasional surprise happens on these shoots; for example we discovered that the talent looked similar to the seller’s daughter. For this film, again, we speak to the emotional aspect of the property as told through the lens of a story, giving viewers a sense of the space and architectural details. 

For each property we work as a team to analyze what the owners love about their home in order for us to capture the home’s authentic story, which in turn sparks excitement in the viewer’s eyes for what lies beyond the physical structure. 

What do these wins mean for your team?

If a film is appreciated by our sellers and buyers, it means that we succeeded in telling the story of the property and our company’s values—bringing a buyer and simultaneously giving a memory piece to the seller. We’re honored to be recognized by the Telly Awards for our work, and it means even more knowing that we are being evaluated by some of the top professionals in the industry.