The incredible studio space at Beyond Pix Studios
Meet The Squad: What’s The Campaign About?
What makes Yelp more than just a review website and app is our community and the Yelp Elite Squad—the folks who come back to share their opinions time and time again. From the early days of Yelp, we wanted to find a way to recognize the standout Yelpers who truly go the extra mile, so we created the Yelp Elite Squad, a.k.a. YES! These folks are the prolific writers, avid photographers, and always-adventurers who embody the spirit of all things Yelp. (If you missed our first post about the Yelp Elite Squad, hop on over to this post for all the details.) Since YES! is such a core part of Yelp, and one of the most awesome parts of joining the community, we wanted to share how incredible they are with all our communities.
Shout out to Shira and Jim, our fab extras. And star, Christy A.
Let’s Talk Stories
From the beginning, we knew that we needed stories from the Yelp Elites themselves to really capture who they are and why they rock. We scoured the site, took inspiration from hundreds and hundreds of Yelp profiles, and drank a bunch of coffee. After reading a ton of reviews (and getting pretty distracted by food photos) we noticed there are three top qualities that truly make an amazing Yelp Elite Squad member:
- Incredible reviews (obvi)
- Epic photographs (so many burgers…)
- And a sense of adventure!
All we needed to do next was find our stars. Not such an easy task when there are so many great folks to choose from! But, where did the brunch conveyor belt come from? Or the giant swan? Or the exploding popcorn? Trust us—there’s a logic to it… sort of. We wanted to make sure the stories didn’t just capture what YES! is all about, but the actual stories of the Elites we invited to film with us at Yelp HQ. Christy A happens to be one of Yelp’s number one brunch photographers, Michael F pens a ton of reviews about hotels and travel, and Chris W? His thing is rollercoasters. (No, seriously—ask him about it!) Even so, even we weren’t sure what Chris would say to the idea of a giant leaf blower in his face… Fortunately, like a true legend, he was game!
Props out to our fab food stylist and designer, Shannon.
Sneak Peek Behind The Scenes
If you think animals are hard to work with, try a six foot blow-up swan… From balancing on a spinning swan to learning how to wink on demand—it’s harder than it looks—there were plenty of hilarious moments on set. Getting the popcorn to explode at the same speed was something of a fine art, creating the illusion of a brunch conveyor took several skilled picker-uppers and putter-downers, and it turns out that holding heavy pineapples on a tray for maybe 8 hours isn’t as easy as it looks… Neither is pretending to type on a typewriter on a giant swan in a huge pool of water! Take a look at our behind-the-scenes footage, if you want a peek on set.
How Was The YES! Experience?
We loved every minute of filming these videos, but how was it for Christy, Michael, and Chris? We caught up with them a few days before the launch to see how the whole experience has been for them. And, of course, if they have any messages for would-be Yelp Elites…
Beyond Pix Studios hand crafted our YES! roller car!
What did you think when we got in touch asking you to come to San Francisco to film these stories?
Christy: Initially I thought it was a hoax. Even coming from my community manager (whom I trust), I thought I was being Punk’d and at any point Ashton Kutcher would jump out. Then I received an email from Gabi regarding flight info and knew I had indeed won the lotto.
Michael: Honestly, when I got the email, I wasn’t sure it was real. I figured my community manager’s email had been hacked and if I agreed to the filming they would follow up with something like “we only need your credit card to hold the booking.” Glad I had a Yelp Elite Event to attend the next night so I could verify the info with my CM directly!
Chris: I was in complete shock. My Yelp regional lead (my former Yelp community manager) said he needed to tell me something but only via a phone call. I was convinced that he was going to tell me his wife was pregnant. When he told me I had been selected for this opportunity I was so shocked I couldn’t really process it at first.
A magician’s secret revealed: the YES! brunch “conveyor” was hand pulled.
What was your reaction to the storyboards when we presented them to you?
Christy: The storyboards were so well thought-out, organized, and manicured to perfection. My brunch scene reflected my personality beyond belief. The color pop, pancakes, my outfit, the camera, mimosa, confetti… Yelp staffers really did their homework and nailed it!
Michael: I was jealous of Chris and Christy’s storyboards. I mean, I thought my storyboard rocked too. They were all awesome, I wanted to act them all out and pick which came out best! In the end, I think we all related most to our storyboards which really helped the final product.
Chris: I thought that they all were a fun, inventive way to express our individual interests. I was curious to see how they were going to pull off some of the scenes.
Dreams in yellow! Our pineapple guys Winston and Nic bursting bubbles on a break with star Michael F.
What was your experience of filming like?
Christy: MAGNIFICENT! Hair, makeup, wardrobe, film crew, editors, director extraordinaire, extras, food artist, prop designers, painters, assistants, Gabi, Aaron, Yelp HQ front desk guy, HQ tour guides, Yelp Cafe baristas, Michael, Chris all made the filming experience fun and very memorable.
Michael: Cool! Like a Yelp Elite Event, I got to meet great new Yelpers. Leading off was a bit nerve wracking and that swan just didn’t want to behave. However, the entire crew made it as smooth and fun as possible. Not sure I could pursue a career in acting, but certainly would be up for another go!
Chris: When I walked onto the set it was surreal seeing the roller coaster car that they had built for me to sit in. I never in a million years could have guessed that when I started writing so many theme park reviews on Yelp that this is where it would take me. Filming should have been nerve-wracking because there’s a room full of people watching you and what you’re doing under several lights as bright as the sun. It really wasn’t for me though and I ended up enjoying the filming process immensely. All of the crew was so wonderful. The director Adam was fantastic and made me feel totally at ease.
The fantastic, stoic popcorn dudes, Uli and Eric. Standing steadfast with star Chris W in between takes…
What do you think of the final videos?
Christy: MOVING! It’s great to see how everything came together. If I weren’t Elite, this video would definitely do the trick. I’d either want to step my game up as a current Yelper or become a Yelper.
Michael: They were a lot of work for short clips, but they came out great! It was amazing to see how flawless they came out considering the random craziness that seemed to happen while filming.
Chris: I love all of them! It’s so interesting to see how the practical effects came together in the finished product.
Our epic wardrobe stylist Chanel looking stylish! And the brunch conveyor set up.
Do you have any messages for anyone looking to join the Yelp Elite Squad?
Christy: Don’t settle for mediocrity, shoot for the stars.
Michael: Sign up! It sounds cliché, but I really feel YES! helped me grow as a person. You’ll make a few new friends and open yourself up to some great new experiences.
Chris: I would recommend applying to join YES! for many reasons. Regularly writing reviews has been a creative outlet for me and I love getting feedback on my reviews. I’ve met such a diverse selection of people through Yelp events and have formed some friendships that I truly cherish with people all over the country! The Yelp Elite Squad has always been so welcoming to me and I make sure that I do the same to people who are new. Yelp Elite events have exposed me to great local businesses (and cuisines) that I hadn’t tried before as well as so many exciting activities. I have unquestionably grown as a person through my experiences with the YES. If anyone is hesitant because they don’t know other Yelpers I would say to ignore that concern and go for it anyway. I didn’t know anyone when I walked into my first event and that didn’t prevent me from having fun right from the beginning.
It was important to keep the swan well watered. Shout out to Ty and Jason, the Producers.
Ready To Get Involved?
The story doesn’t end here! With Yelp Elite Squad communities all over, there are so many more stories to be told—and we know you have stories, photos, and adventures to share on Yelp. If you’re ready to send in your nomination to join the Yelp Elite Squad (who knows, maybe you’ll be our next star?) hop on over to yelp.com/elite and nominate yourself or a friend who you think would make a great Elite. And we hope you’ve enjoyed our campaign. Good luck!
The wonderful Kelly and Adam hard at work
A final shot of the on-set crew!