San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Behind the scenes of Costa Rica’s latest travel promo

Imagine being witness to a brave soul in Costa Rica rappelling down a waterfall- covered cliff, or taking in the landscape surrounding a majestic volcano.

The Costa Rican government’s “Gift of Happiness” tourism campaign features these scenes and more in a recently released promotional video to be shown in U.S. theaters.

Back in October, a nine-man crew equipped with 50 pieces of luggage and six high-definition video cameras arrived in Costa Rica to start the project, gathering footage of activities and places that would give viewers a fresh look at the country.

The promotional video is a joint project of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and Atlanta-based advertising company 22squared. Its purpose is to encourage U.S. and Canadian tourists to visit Costa Rica during the rainy season, which began a week ago and lasts through November.

Director Patrick Pierson, a U.S.-based freelancer, filmmaker, and video editor, describes himself as a man who “can’t put a camera down even [when he’s] on vacation.”

Although the video lasts only about 60 seconds, it took several grueling days of filming in locations across the country. It will be shown in theaters across the United States through June, and in Canada in November.

The video shows incredible highlights of Costa Rica and its people, and extra footage will be used in an iPad app called “Go Costa Rica,” to be released in June. The app is designed to help tourists plan trips to Costa Rica, among other services.

The publicity campaign also plans to make use of social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

The ICT gave filmmakers a list of sites, and they set out to document more than 50 locations across the country.

Although crew members planned each day what they would film, Pierson left room for spontaneity, giving the final video a very “real-life” feel, he said.

The crew spent less than two days in each location, and had only a few hours a day to take advantage of light. They used cinematic cameras and shot footage in a mixture of documentary and action styles, he said.

Challenges included long hours on the road and little sleep – members of the crew caught about six hours of sleep a day – and “putting together all those locations and making it work,” said Andrés Madrigal, a Costa Rican photographer who helped coordinate the shoot.

One of the unique things about the campaign, Madrigal said, is that no professional actors were used. Instead, local Costa Rican residents became the stars of the film.

Pierson said he is proud of the work, despite the grueling schedule. And Costa Ricans, he said, are “the most friendly, the most helpful, the most humble people. Everyone was extremely gracious.”


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