Elite AgentSelling and Marketing Property

If these walls could talk: How videography can tell luxury homes’ stories

They say home is where the heart is, and that's exactly what Goldeneye Media tries to capture in its unique real estate marketing films – heart. Founder Tracey Atkins shares the key ingredients to letting a home's personality shine through.

For two decades, Tracey Atkins has been bringing the stories of some of the world’s most opulent and well-known homes to life.

With an innate ability to capture the aura, the history and the essence of a property, Tracey and her Goldeneye Media team have created marketing films unlike any others.

Breathtaking videography and still images combine with carefully crafted scripts, captivating design and inspiring music to light a flame in the hearts of high-end buyers.

Among the notable properties Tracey and Goldeneye Media have filmed is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s estate, Red Gate Farm, in Martha’s Vineyard, and in Australia the Fairfax estates Elaine and Fairwater, which sold for $71 million and about $100 million.

“I think the one we will always pinch ourselves about is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate in Martha’s Vineyard, which we filmed last year,” Tracey says.

“We spent five days filming the property – it was 400 acres with a mile of Atlantic Ocean beachfront and the home was incredibly beautiful, stylish, and filled with the belongings of Jackie and JFK.”

The style of film Goldeneye Media produces is unique in the real estate world, preferring to do away with listing a home’s nuts and bolts features and instead giving life to what the walls of the home would say could they talk.

“People understand that a house is going to have a stove and a toilet,” Tracey says.

“What I want our films to do is make people want to be there and to say ‘I’m
going to go and have a look at that property’.”

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate is the perfect example, with the film featuring imagery of crashing waves and the abundant wildlife, along with shots of her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, penning in a diary her mother’s favourite features of the property.

In their time at Red Gate Farm, the Goldeneye Media team carefully gathered the elements for the film, building a relationship with Caroline and convincing her to read the words she had inked about her mother and the estate.

“If I’d asked her at the start it would have been a solid ‘no’,” Tracey says.

“But because we were there for several days, there became an element of trust.

“She could see that we were doing this well and by the end of things when I asked her if she would let us film her writing as if she were reading from a diary, she agreed to do it.”

A former television broadcast journalist, Tracey started Goldeneye Media in 2010 after coming across a hole in the market while doing some public relations for a luxury development in Brighton.

“This was in the early days when video was just starting, and I thought ‘I can’t believe people aren’t videoing these houses a bit like the news, because there’s always a story’,” Tracey recalls.

“What I never did get then, and I continue not to get, is that video is so under-utilised and people persist with pictures and music.

“Imagine if we put the news on mute on the television and you just stared at pictures all day and had a bit of music running.

“When someone is talking to you about what you’re seeing, it puts everything into context.”

Tracey gathered together some cameraman friends from Channel 9 to work on a freelance basis, and Goldeneye Media was born.

In the early days, while they were still establishing their reputation, a handful of forward-thinking real estate agents used Goldeneye Media in Melbourne’s high-end suburbs such as Toorak and Brighton.

As time went on, properties sold and satisfied owners and agents started to talk, work increased.

Tracey says the film that changed it all was when they shot the iconic Fairfax estate Elaine in Sydney, in 2015 for Ken Jacobs of Christie’s International Real Estate.

“Christie’s loved it so much they had me talk at their next global conference in Barcelona,” Tracey says.

“When I stepped down off the stage, a long queue formed in front of me of agents from around the world all wanting to secure our services and that’s when we went global – quite suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Within two weeks we were in the Napa Valley filming a $100 million estate there for Christie’s and it just took off from there.”

You could be forgiven for thinking the Goldeneye Media team is a cast of thousands, but it’s just Tracey and her general manager Zoe Keogh.

They use expert freelancers based in the US and there’s talk of expanding to the UK.

Tracey says the secret to creating their showstopping films is that they don’t follow a formula and no two videos are the same.

“We really look for stories,” she says.

“So we say we are emotional, not transactional, with what we create.”

Admittedly there are days where Tracey suffers ‘writer’s block’, but immersing herself in the property and spending time there is usually enough to light the path forward.

The films can contain video, photos, drone footage, voiceover and music. Tracey says deciding what to use is about having a deeper level understanding of how to best showcase a property.

“It’s about being able to look at a property and say ‘this is what this one needs’,” Tracey says.

“It’s also about knowing what a property doesn’t need.

“Everyone thinks drones are the next best thing in real estate, but I’ll often say ‘we’re not putting a drone over this one because it’s not going to do it any favours’.”

One of the most fascinating properties Tracey has worked on was The Creamery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The property comprised an old stone dairy that had been discovered abandoned in Montana.

It was dismantled, every stone was numbered, and it was flown to Jackson Hole and reassembled.

“The result was breathtaking – sitting at the bottom of the Grand Tetons and flanked by two stunning rivers,” Tracey recalls.

At the other end of the scale, the standard properties Goldeneye Media shoots start at about $5 million.

Feedback from agents tells her the films help to capture discretionary buyers, which are those who may not be actively looking for a new home but decide they want one once they see the film.

Yet, Tracey says she most fears and therefore celebrates what the property owners’ think.

“So much has been poured into these houses, and I feel like there’s a massive responsibility,” she says.

“I measure our success based on whether they feel it was a great representation of their home.

“Then the greatest gift is if it sells and sells well.”

But the general public doesn’t get to see all of Goldeneye Media’s films, with many sent only to qualified buyers.

Mike Cannon-Brookes, who bought the Fairfax estate Fairwater, was the only one to see the film created for that property.

Tracey says Mike didn’t want the film shared while he was deciding on whether to buy the property and once the sale was made, it formed part of the sales agreement that video wouldn’t be released.

“The core of our business is built on trust,” Tracey says.

Over the past two decades, Tracey has noticed an increasing trend for owners wanting to move away from traditional print advertising.

The old, standard four weeks of print advertising in major newspapers are being switched in favour of online campaigns, and increasingly vendors are taking more control over marketing.

“More and more you’ve got vendors that are savvy and aware,” Tracey says.

“Once upon a time the owners of very expensive houses were not in the tech industry, and now they are.

“So vendors are saying they want a digital campaign and they don’t want to spend a lot on print.

“I think there’s a lot of growth to come for video and photography that can be taken outside the real estate agent model because I think we’ve got a lot of vendors that are taking control of the way that their houses are being presented.”

Vendors are now also approaching Goldeneye Media directly, rather than going via their real estate agent.

“More and more owners are coming to us and asking us to tell the story of their house.

“They’re saying ‘we haven’t even decided which agent we’re going to use yet, but we love what you do and we’d like you to capture this for us’.”

Tracey says the way agents deliver and potential buyers receive the films Goldeneye Media creates is also changing with technology.

Goldeneye Media now formats its content so it can be shared on a range of personal devices and via varying platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat.

Tracey says it means agents can share the film with potential buyers anywhere in the world and in a format that’s personal and instant.

“Sometimes we also create what we call ‘teasers’ for agents to be able to share with a particular person and they’ll say ‘if you want to see the whole thing, let me know and I’ll send it to you in an email’,” she says.

“We find that in the elite market, because people are busy, they’re not getting their emails, reading them and clicking on house videos all day.

“But if they get a message from an agent they have a relationship with saying ‘I’ve just picked this one out because I want you to see it,’ you’re guaranteed they’re going to click on it and look at it.”

Tracey’s marketing advice for agents looking to change the way they do things is to tell a story first and sell second.

“Let the story be told first because people are drawn to that, they lean in,” she says.

“When you speak softly to people, they lean in because they want to hear what you’re saying.”

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