Quiet on set: Archer admissions films virtual open house on campus

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Photo credit: Grace Doyle

Director of College Guidance Ivan Hauck is interviewed in Archer’s historic Eastern Star courtyard for the open house video. “It was a wonderful opportunity to represent Archer and really articulate the goals and mission of our office and everything we are striving to do,” Hauck said.

By Grace Doyle, Sports Editor

Take 1, Action: The Archer admissions office adapted their open houses to a video format to comply with COVID-19 safety practices. Keeping in its Hollywood roots, as seen in the film “Chinatown”, Archer was turned into a set in order to film a virtual 2021-2022 open house. Sixty students, faculty and administration were filmed and interviewed over the three-day shoot.

Fall, is admissions season, and in past years that meant, Archer would host three open houses for prospective families on select Sundays during October and November. Here, potential Archer girls would visit classes, hear from administrators and meet with current students to get a feel of the school culture. Parents would also attend and hear from numerous speakers as well as tour the campus.

Initially, the admissions office thought they would be able to offer in-person admissions events. However, as the summer progressed, they realized that that was not going to be a “safe thing to do,” Director of Admissions Felicia Paik said, due to COVID-19.

“We wanted to do our best to capture the essence of the Archer School for Girls on film,” Paik said. “Last fall, we also did a virtual open house. But back then, we were all still in quarantine, and each of the people … filmed themselves at home or in their office or in their bedrooms, and it was all a DIY kind of situation. It was acceptable at that time. But we knew that this fall — because everyone’s back in the world and there is no full-on quarantine — we wanted the quality of the production to be as high as possible.”

With the intention to produce a high-quality virtual open house, Archer turned to Perceptiv, specializing in branding, marketing and communications, to bring the idea to life. Partner in the company, Craig Rettig helped man the production and capture Archer on film.

“Our goal was to try to capture the ambitious and joyful[ness] of Archer,” Rettig said, “It’s an amazing, magical place.” 

The film crew covered different areas of Archer’s campusas well as highlighting multiple facets of Archer’s culture through interviews. Different representatives were designated to speak on individual aspects of the school.

Head of School Elizabeth English took part in the video. During past in-person open houses, English would interact with prospective students and families throughout the day. With the switch to a virtual setting, she said how the video emphasizes Archer’s mission.

“I want them to understand that the mission of the school drives everything that we do —every program, every dimension of the culture and that we’re really intentional about the school we’ve created here,” English said. “And the thing we’ve focused on most [is]…being [a] girl serving and empowering school.”

Senior Sabrina Kim has been an ambassador since sixth grade. Ambassadors are liaisons between prospective families and the Archer community. Kim has represented Archer by leading groups at open houses, attending school consortiums and now by participating in the virtual open house.

“What I’ll miss most is interacting with all the individual families,” Kim said. “I’ve done open houses since sixth grade, and my favorite part is always greeting the families and taking them to where they are supposed to go.”

Archer previously hired Perceptiv to film a virtual tour of the school. However, this one-hour-long open house will go in-depth about different facets of the Archer community. With an array of perspectives, the video captures Archer from the “heart,” Rettig said.

“From the teachers, we’re capturing the value of being seen and heard and to learn by doing,” Rettig said. “But before we start filming, I say, ‘Do it from a joyful place’ and ‘Lead with the heart.’”

For three Sundays every fall, the open houses welcome potential Archer girls to get to know the campus, teachers, students and what it’s like to be an Archer girl. However, a video can only encapsulate so much according to Paik.

“I’m sad that we can’t invite people to this campus—sad that I’m not going to be standing on the veranda with Ms. English like I do for three Sundays every fall,” Paik said. “This is my 10th season as the admissions director, and … the fall admissions season and the open houses are events that we look forward to.”

Echoing the sentiment of missing in-person open houses, English spoke about the confidence of Archer girls as ambassadors for the school.

“I’ve said this so many times and, over the years, we have featured Archer students more prominently in our open houses, but all it takes is an Archer girl to talk, to open her mouth and all of a sudden you realize how comfortable in [their] own skin, how confident, how funny and poised and interesting our students are,” English said. “That is the most powerful marketing we could ever do … You hear from our two girls in the video but there’s that in-person connection that’s lost.”

As Rettig said, the purpose of the video is to help prospective families “experience the magic of the school.” When filming her segment, Kim said she tried to do just that.

“That’s really where I’ve thrived at Archer, taking advantage of the amazing opportunity that have been provided to me,” Kim said. “Archer has really changed my life … and I found myself and that is something that I want to get across always.”

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  • Fitness & Wellness Department Chair Stephanie Ferri is interviewed inside of the weight room. Each shot took multiple crew members and a large amount of equipment to produce.

    Photo credit: Felicia Paik

  • Students are filmed while working in the Saban Idea Lab. This was one of many segments taken that captured students in action.

    Photo credit: Felicia Paik

  • Science Teacher Melissa Sharp is filmed inside her biology classroom. “I think the thing we’ve focused on most in the video… is how seriously we take teaching and learning and how much we invest in our teachers,” Head of School Elizabeth English said.

    Photo credit: Felicia Paik

  • Eighth grader and ambassador Saskia Sommer interviews seventh grader Siena Fantini. Sommer interviewed six students on camera about an array of topics pertaining to student life.

    Photo credit: Felicia Paik

  • Dean of Student Life, Equity and Inclusion Samantha Hazell-O’Brien interviews senior leaders. Representatives from Student Council, Honor Education Council and the Executive Board of Advocacy and Diversity spoke about different aspects of being an Archer leader.

    Photo credit: Felicia Paik

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