The Making of the New South County Tourism Council Promo Reel

Southern RI shimmers in video produced by the council’s former intern turned Tandem founder


It’s surreal, watching a well-made movie about your home state. You see Narragansett Beach, but the sunset is perfect, and two model-beautiful surfers point to the fiery horizon. You see hikers on a familiar trail, but the sun flares through the leaves in just the right way, and boulders are all around. The colors are perfect. The characters look like people you wish you knew. It’s real, but somehow realer than real.

“I know the landscape very well,” says Dave Sarazen, director of a new promotional video for the South County Tourism Council. Sarazen grew up in East Greenwich and is co-founder of Tandem, a Newport-based media company. “For this particular video, we asked, ‘What are the key activities and locations we really need to feature?’ We wanted to make sure we had a good range.”

The tourism council commissions a new commercial each year for television broadcast, and 2024’s ad spot was developed for social media as well. Sarazen was a natural choice to direct; five years ago, when he was still a student at the University of Rhode Island, he interned for the council as a photographer. He has a strong background in fashion photography – including working with RI-based brand Kiel James Patrick – and is accustomed to hiring talent and creating scenes. When Sarazen established Tandem two years ago with his business partner Charlie Turchetta, the council offered to collaborate with them on this summer’s promo.

“One of the things we wanted to focus on this year is to keep everything local,” says Faye Pantazopoulos, creative director of the South County Tourism Council. “Everything about David’s photography style envisioned what I wanted South County to look like.” Adds Louise Bishop, the council’s president and CEO, “We’re extremely proud of not just the final video, but that 100 percent of our investment in it, stayed in the state.”

The video illustrates a range of summery scenarios. A father and son carry fishing tackle to the shore. A family eats ice cream in the back of a station wagon. Kayakers relax next to a sky-blue shoal. To capture these moments, Sarazen incorporated 19 different performers, who play recurring roles in the one-minute video. Sarazen himself voiced the lyrical narration that plays above a swelling score. “This is what you’ve been looking for,” he intones. “This is South County, Rhode Island.”

Much of the cinematography looks handheld and natural, almost like a documentary, yet every shot was carefully crafted. Building a bonfire on the beach required a formal permit from the municipality. To flesh out a dining scene, Sarazen asked his own parents to act as background characters. When two paddlers cut across the glassy Narrow River in Narragansett, Sarazen required three crewmen to huddle together in an inflatable dinghy and motor alongside, aiming their lens low to the water. As methodical as the production was, the final video looks spontaneous and carefree.

“South County is not a fast-paced kind of place,” says Pantazopoulos. “We really want the feeling of South County. Once you get here, you can breathe in the salt air. We wanted to have this come across in the video.”

“We wanted this to feel like a story,” says Sarazen. “We didn’t just want it to be a montage of different activities. We wanted you to feel like you could picture yourself in these scenes.”


View the video on Instagram at @southcountyri



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