You couldn’t say Karen Cox-Dennis has put Franklin County on the map; lots and lots of people have collaborated over the past several years to make that true.
But thanks to her creative impulses, she has put the county in all kinds of places, in various video and print campaigns.
A longtime resident of Apalachicola, with husband Karl and their kids, Cox-Dennis’ Forgotten Coast Productions LLC has evolved since 2005 into a full-blown independent producer for print and film, its most recent work on a print campaign for Dooney & Bourke, a 40-year-old Connecticut-based designer and crafter of leather and fabric fashion accessories for women and men, marketed worldwide.
“We started out as a location scout and evolved to creative direction, storyboard creation and marketing strategies, and into full production,” said Cox-Dennis, who now divides her time between homes in Tallahassee and Apalachicola.
Her work earlier this year with Dooney & Bourke started with a “lookbook” she sent the company late last year, a collection of photographs compiled to show off a model, photographer, or in this case a location and theme.
“I gave them a retro, a non-project with a Thelma and Louise girls trip storyboard,” said Cox-Dennis. “They called me on Jan. 8 and we did our first tech scout in January and we were shooting in mid-March. It was done in three days.”
The call came from Peter Beaugard, Dooney & Bourke’s head of advertising and creative direction, and within two days, the project was underway.
Michael Altobello, a freelance photographer under contract for local work with the company, would be handling the camera work. Two models from Miami, blonde Kailin Brousseau and brunette Sabrina Cabreja, were hired to model the assortment of leather handbags that are Dooney & Bourke’s iconic fashion accessories.
For these product shots, Cox-Dennis took the small crew, which also included a stylist and other staffers, to spots in Apalachicola, the Hole in the Wall restaurant, the home of Jim and Susan Bachrach and the mural next to Bowery Station; in Carrabelle, to Carrabelle Junction restaurant and Carrabelle Beach; to Dr. Julian Bruce St. George Island State Park; and then west to Alys Beach and Seaside.
Because the city doesn’t have film permitting fees, and the state can’t accept location fees, Cox-Dennis’ had a $200 donation made to the Friends of the St. George Island State Park, and arranged for gifting bags to selected staffers at Hole in the Wall and Water Street Hotel.
Today you can find the Dooney & Bourke ads in print and web-based advertising in such prestigious publications as Vogue, Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair.
While the Dooney & Bourke campaign brought to life a high-profile assortment of spots, it didn’t infuse the sort of money into the local economy that a 2017 television campaign by United Health Group did.
Cox-Dennis did the storyboard, casting and locations for that commercial, which was filmed in Tallahassee and Panama City, and on St. George Island.
United’s ad agency, Droptree out of Portland, Oregon, was marketing to the Deep South, to North Florida and South Georgia. “They wanted to use iconic places that people would recognize on TV, and because I’m familiar with the local market, they solicited my opinions. We customized locations for storyboard I wrote, and they hired me as creative person and producer.”
Zebra Productions brought in two in-house videographers from Oregon, and the shoot took place in March and April 2017. (SEE VIDEO ABOVE STORY)
They used a drone to film Allan “Wood Duck” Richards on his boat in the Apalachicola River and at Little St. Marks; they filmed from Tommy Ward’s barge, which was piloted by son T.J.; and the used the transports of Larry Covell, from Airboat Adeventures.
The actual filming, which took about four days, infused upwards of $195,000 into the three counties, between caterers, boat drivers, car rentals, running drones, using three boats and three captains, hotels, restaurants, rental houses and assorted other expenses, Cox-Dennis estimated.