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The Film Guys on Owning the All-Boys Narrative
Kristina Miller
Salisbury Gentleman

We recently partnered with The Film Guys to create our School video. The Film Guys share what it means to own the all-boys narrative.

"When it comes to the image and reputation of boarding schools, one could argue that all-boys institutions face the steepest climb. Amid the frenzy around ‘toxic masculinity’ and ‘bro culture’, these schools can quickly be regarded as their incubators. Instead of falling prey to a media image, we approached the task of making a Salisbury admission video with one principle in mind, own the narrative.

The truth on the ground turned out to be far, far away from the category’s perception. The first thing we noticed about Salisbury? Everybody was exceedingly nice. We had never encountered a group of boys so pleasant and overtly respectful towards us and each other. It became quickly apparent that Salisbury’s tagline of “Doing Everything Right for Boys” runs deeply through the school’s veins.

So how do we own the narrative?

Everybody already knows that Salisbury is an athletic powerhouse, but what they don’t know is that it raises boys to become truly thoughtful, nice and emotionally available men. The challenge is that these points are difficult to articulate without sounding cliché or making big, hard-to-substantiate claims, so we had to figure out how to get around this. We figured that we could create a character who could embody the school’s ideals and be able to absorb all the praise and positivity as compliments aimed directly at him. With this format, we were able to get away with being as laudatory as we wanted without ever nearing cliché.

So we settled on the idea of creating a larger-than-life mythical character who roams the hilltop called “Salisbury Gentleman” (“Man” as in Superman). The idea was inspired by a turn of phrase we spotted in various places on campus, “The Salisbury Gentleman is not a myth”.

It didn’t take long before we had him wear a cape, a crimson blazer and a varsity “S” on his chest. A senior by the name of Kaden (pictured at the top helping the ladies cross the road) was the first to wear the cape and uniform. As we walked to the spot we would film he said to us with a smirk,

“I don’t know why but this feels really right.” - Kaden ‘20

He perfectly captured the spirit of the boys we were filming. His role in the video was decided by his peers because they felt that he had the best smile of the group. In fact, every role in the video was decided by the boys themselves based on who they thought would best fit the different parts. 

The end result, the Salisbury story is being told by the people who know it and live it, rather than anyone who may draw conclusions from the outside. We managed to get away with explicit and lavish praise for the school without ever appearing arrogant or making claims that one might challenge. You’d be hard pressed to challenge a statement like, “That’s the type of guy I want as my son in law”."

-The Film Guys