Creating the 'Dear New York' Campaign Video
My very first campaign video for Candy Tong Collection, 'Dear New York' is essentially my own idea of a love letter to my favorite city in the world. This feel-good, chic, and lively less-than-a-minute video was curated after hours of research on fashion and runway films and campaigns. I was greatly inspired by Diane Von Furstenburg's Fall 2017 campaign which captured not only her designs very well but also the New York City essence; which is ultimately the vision and mood I wanted to create for my own.
I was rather fortunate to have found my stellar production team, Plus Ultra through a referral from another videographer I have worked with in the past. Co-founder and director, Jack Cook caught my attention after watching one of his most well-loved works 'Neon Dreams.' I knew that I wanted to hire an artist other than a dance videographer for this particular campaign since I hope to break barriers and achieve a new "wow" factor in the dance industry. Jack and I brainstormed my concept for months over the phone (as I was quarantining in California) before the initial shoot day on November 21st, 2020 in New York City. I remember blurting out these words exactly: "taxis," "rooftops," and "Central Park" to name a few during our first meeting.
'Dear New York' showcases three wickedly talented and diverse women (Jessica Aronoff, Lil Aronoff, and Larissa Gerszeke) in addition to myself in different styles of dance; heels, contemporary, and ballet as they effortlessly move throughout Manhattan in a studio and street look. It was important for me to display a diverse range of ladies - ethnicity and body type. All three delivered and captured the brand's essence in their own one-of-a-kind manner- with elegance, confidence, and glamour.
Months, weeks, and sleepless nights of brainstorming my vision were all composed in 2 days. The longest one beginning at 7:45am on a warm Autumn day at Washington Square Park where we shot our first scene with the lovely Aronoff sisters. This scene is what I like to call my going to brunch with the girls or GNO (girl's night out) section.
After the dancing on park benches, twirling in the middle of a flock of pigeons, and strutting under the famous arch; the production team and I traveled towards Central Park to meet my next featured dancer, Larissa Gerszeke at Bethesda Terrace where she naturally gravitated a live audience by her effortless and captivating movement quality. As I and the rest of the crowd watched Larissa twirl and leap in the open air hall, I knew right there and then that the leotard she wore had to be named after this iconic and personal favorite location of mine, Bethesda.
I was in absolute awe observing this whole video piece together from behind the camera. As most of you know me as the one in-front, it truly was a nice change of pace to be on the other end. After wrapping up a successful 5 hours with these three featured dancers, we then traveled to Roosevelt Island for our final scene where I strapped on the boots and showcased one of my beloved pieces from this collection that too is also named after this historical landmark, Four Freedoms.
In this campaign, you will also see glimpses of myself at the Empire State Building. I was so fortunate to have been invited to a private showing of the city's skyline from their iconic observatory deck. ESB was the first landmark I visited when I first traveled to New York at 10 years old. It was only fitting and ironic that this happened to be a part of "Dear New York."
This video wouldn't have come together if it weren't for the help of my friends at Plus Ultra: Jack Cook, Ching-Him Ng, Justin Lao, Phillip Shvartsman, Gabriel Adalla my beautiful dancers, and a special home-town best friend, Jason Spector who helped develop the initial concept for this video.
Special thanks to my photographers, Quentin Mui and Jon Taylor for capturing the behind the scenes footage during this eight hour day.
I hope you all enjoyed this campaign as much as I loved creating it. Make sure to tune in for another campaign, launching soon.
Made with love and fire,
Images by Jon Taylor, Quentin Mui, and Jack Cook (from top to bottom)