“How was your stay?” It’s an innocent and well-intentioned question, asked of six discriminating travelers at the start of an exuberant two-minute short released online for Marriott’s Autograph Collection boutique hotels, directed by Pip Cowley and produced by Miniac.
Created by agency ACE Content, the film opens with a desk clerk asking the above-mentioned question, and we quickly see the awestruck and almost speechless responses of five travelers: two single women, a single man and two couples.
Before they can begin to speak, they suddenly break into dance, moving in wild gyrations infused with passion and spontaneity as they dance around the interiors or exteriors of their respective hotels, propelled by a jazzy underscore. Each successive venue and traveler pairing is connected to the previous one via perfectly-timed matched cuts.
Included in the film are a range of properties, each more attractive than the next: we go from The Ivens in Lisbon to Hotel Drover in Ft. Worth, the Ryse in Seoul, Punta Islita in Costa Rica and Grotta Giusti in Tuscany, ending this tour de force at The Cavalier in Virginia Beach. Along the way we see the travelers immersing themselves in the best each hotel has to offer, from trendy bars to lush pools to stunning architecture and vibrant urban settings.
The film highlights how a stay at one of these hotels, all part of the Autograph Collection by Marriott, is an experience exactly like nothing else – which is both the brand’s slogan and the closing line of spoken dialogue in this largely wordless short. Watch below:
“We used the dance sequences as the vehicle for expressing emotion and playfulness,” Cowley says about her creative approach. “When paired with the matched cuts, it created a stylistic through line that connected not only each segment but the entire film.”
Cowley won the assignment, which included film and still photography, based on her previous work, treatment, and intimate knowledge of the brand. A former agency art director, she’d worked on the Autograph assignment while at Anomaly and felt an intuitive understanding of its core values.
As a director, Cowley’s flair for using dance to drive storytelling and draw in viewers is one of her strong suits. She tapped dancer and choreographer Madison Olandt for the project. The duo had worked together previously on the director’s Soy Gitano music video for the duo Paco Versailles, as well as on Undone, a short dance film starring the actress and dancer Camren Bicondova.
Casting, which was done locally, plays an important part in the film’s appeal, as the travelers depicted represent a diverse cross-section of groups and demographics. Paired with Crowley’s direction and the movement that drives the story, the effect is a fluid take that feels totally cohesive. “I wanted to highlight the individual personalities of each hotel through both the camera as well as the characters who inhabit them within our film,” the director comments. “Each vignette and dance sequence brings to life what makes an Autograph experience so memorable and special.”
The production was an enormous undertaking that was shot over the last quarter of 2022, Roesler explains. “We were in six cities, shot over a five-week period, from Europe and Asia to Central America, Texas and Virginia,” he observes. “The team we assembled helped Pip maintain not just a consistency of vision but of tone as well, which was important to bring out the unique qualities of each venue.”
Miniac also handled all post-production on the project and contributed to the selection of licensed tracks used in each dance segment. “Part of what makes Miniac a little different is that we believe a director’s vision must be carried out across the entirety of the project through delivery,” says Roesler. “We’ve never thought of post as an ‘agency’ thing.”
At each location, a full day was devoted to capturing the still images that will appear throughout the campaign. “With Pip handling both deliverables, the consistency of the campaign is unmatched,” Roesler notes, “since it’s all coming from a singular creative perspective.”
AGENCY: ACE Content
- Creative Director & Partner: Carlos Naude
- Art Director: David Ligon
- Copywriter: Chelsie Kelly
- Producer: Max Simon
- Senior Account Manager: Megan Chacon-Diaz
- Group Business Director: Gabrielle Schaefer
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Miniac
- Director/Photographer: Pip Cowley
- EPs: Rogers Marquess, Stephen Roesler
- Producer: Xenia Rollinson
- DP: Dustin Miller
- 1st AC: Nathan Cummings
- Choreographer: Madison Olandt
- Wardrobe: Jessica Loria
- Post Producer: Sam Zarrin, Legion
- Editor: Ben Montemayor
- Color grading: Strack Azar
- Sound Design/Mix: Sam Costello
- VFX Artist: Andrea Abtahi
VFX: Pendulum VFX