Behind the Scenes of "With Love, Madison"

Introducing “With Love, Madison,” a breathtaking new take on our buzz-worthy capital city. From the soaring open above the Capitol — a literal 284-foot view of the city — to the first-person perspective of adventure after adventure, you’ve never seen lake-city-lake life like this. Whether this brand video is introducing you for the first time or made-in-Madison memories carved their way into your soul long ago, this visual love letter from Madison will have you planning a visit every time you press play. 

Meet Sam Li

Destination Madison’s brand video was created as a collaboration between Destination Madison and Sam Li, the Madison-based cinematographer known for his majestic, sweeping shots, energetic editing style and passion for the destination. 

"Working with Destination Madison on a project of this scale has been a dream come true,” says Sam. “This video is a true display of the Madison I’ve come to love, a city that deserves the national limelight.”

Sam has created videos in collaboration with destinations and brands including Visit Milwaukee, Visit San Antonio, Tricky Foods and Bubbl'r. His photography prints are a locally loved Madison keepsake that allows you to bring the beauty of the capital city into your home.

How Did the Video Come to Life?

We spent a full year capturing and editing this piece with one big goal: helping the viewer feel Madison in their soul. To really help them understand what makes Madison different, we wanted to focus on never-seen-before points of view and scenery that supported our lake-city-lake point of difference. 

To do this, we collaborated with more than 30 of our partner organizations who welcomed our crew into their space and allowed us to capture authentic Madison experiences.

We also enlisted the help of real Madisonians to be our video stars. Our call for talent volunteers resulted in an astounding 330 people who offered to be the faces of the stories you see on the screen. (And btw, we're always looking for more volunteers to sign up for future photo and video shoots.)

How Can I Experience What I See in the Video?

We set out to showcase what makes Madison special. That meant soaring across our lake-city-lake landscape for the best scenic views, digging deep into our fresh and innovative culinary culture, finding inspiration from our community's sustainable traditions and showcasing the arts and culture that exists around every corner of our city.

The video starts and ends at the Wisconsin State Capitol, the architectural marvel that is the focal point of the city. You're then transported along the iconic State Street pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare in downtown Madison that connects the Capitol to the UW-Madison campus. UW alums will recognize the views from Bascom Hill and scenes from Memorial Union Terrace, home to the iconic sunburst chairs and immaculate summertime vibes. And it wouldn't be a Madison video without the greatest tradition in college sports at Camp Randall Stadium.

All the beautiful scenes of waterfront fun were shot on Madison's five lakes. Two of which, lakes Mendota and Monona, create the isthmus that's the inspiration for our lake-city-lake landscape. We're one of just two cities in the country on an isthmus, which means you can go from jumping into lakes to diving into our downtown in minutes. True to what you see in the video, our lakes are a year-round playground from wakeboarding on Lake Mendota in the summer to ice skating on Lake Monona in the winter and everything in between.

As our ice skaters and paddlers adventured across Lake Monona, you might have noticed our stunning skyline punctuated by not just the Capitol but also the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace, where we hold dozens of conventions and events each year in addition to public activities like rooftop yoga and concerts.

And let's take a moment to talk about the food. It's easy to make dishes look good when the ingredients are fresh and the chefs are world-class. We're home to not just any farmers' market. The Dane County Farmers' Market is the largest producer-only market in the country and is the source for so much of the fantastic food you can find in the capital city.

It's impossible to showcase everything Madison has to offer in just 90 seconds. There are far more restaurants, events, attractions, things to do and places to stay yet to explore now that you've got the feeling in your soul.

Direct Your Thank Yous To

It took an incredibly talented crew to make our Madison love letter come to life. This crew was led by Destination Madison's Senior Creative Strategist Jen Kuhn and includes:

Sam Li's crew: 

  • Director: Sam Li 
  • Cinematographers: Jack Whaley, Sam Li, Cody LaPlant 
  • Producer: Jonathan Eckelberg 
  • Gaffer: Grant Caldwell 
  • FPV Drone: Logan Lien 
  • 2nd Unit FPV Drone: Joe Clark 
  • PAs: Chris Malchow, Casey Nelson, Karl Somerville 
  • Color: Jake Pierrelee, Sam Li 
  • Editor: Sam Li 
  • Post-Sound: Sam Li, Tanner Monagle 
  • Animation - Dustin Bankord

Destination Madison's Brand Assets crew: 

The video would not have been possible without additional support from the Destination Madison Board of Directors and our partners.