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The Opening Night Before Christmas

Now in their 8th year of Annual Christmas Shows, Auckland’s Basement Theatre goes meta, exploring the only subject left – how to make a Christmas Show. Following the Levin Community Players as they prep for their festive small-town performance, the show features a line-up of celebrity guests left to improv their way through a catastrophic opening night.

In early November, we were approached by a producer at Basement Theatre who was interested in partnering to develop promotional video material for the show. They were after content for social media, as well as a short, 15-second spot to use as pre-roll on 3Now, Newshub, and other online platforms. Having worked with several of the cast before, we jumped at the opportunity knowing full well just how fun a project like this can be. Additionally, the Basement has a long history of nurturing and supporting independent creatives and artists from around the country, and we wanted to help out any way we could.

Quick turnaround was a priority, so we shot on the fly – going for a low-fi, mockumentary feel inspired by Christopher Guest’s Waiting for Guffman. This allowed us to shoot everything we needed in a single afternoon over the course of about 3 hours – getting enough content for 7 videos in total. Of course, the success of an approach like this relies entirely on whether the actors are able to deliver an authentic and engaging performance – but when working with a cast as talented as Byron Coll, Kura Forrester, Tom Sainsbury, and Brynley Stent, that was never really a concern.

The videos were well-received on social media, with the flagship trailer (above) receiving over 34,000 views and 70+ shares on Facebook. In the comments, people tagged their friends, related to the characters, and organised times to see the show. At this stage, tickets have all but sold out – and are disappearing quickly. If you’re interested in catching The Opening Night Before Christmas before it’s out of season, you’ll have to act fast

For some added fun, we also did some unscripted interviews with each character. Once the initial Trailer launched, these simple talking heads helped keep the conversation going.

Russel Bush

Sheree Mudge

Glen Innes

Rosa-Lynne  Martin Shanks

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