Friday, May 4, 2018

Fitbit "Step"


Click to watch.

Credits (director, writer, DP, producer, etc.)

Creative Director/Writer: Chris DeNinno (David and Goliath) 
Production Company: Toybox Films
toybox.net.au
Director: Glenn Cogan
DP: Aaron Haberfield
Producer: Greer Wilton
First AC: Harrison Welsh
Make up and Hair: Tira Jaye
Production and Costume Design: Greer Wilton
Online Editor: Andrew Sheldon
Colour Grade: Chris Grincott and David Mosqueda - White Chocolate
Sound Design: Glenn Cogan
3D animation: Glenn Cogan
Cast: Simone Smith - The Right Fit
Camera: RED Weapon
Edited in Adobe Premier
Grade: DaVinci Resolve
3D: Cinema 4D and Redshift Rendering Technology


Why this script/concept? How does it reflect your vision as a commercial director?

For my first spec spot, I was looking for a brand or product I haven’t had the opportunity to work with before. This script was interesting to me in that it was a very simple scene that could easily have been done as a oner, and in fact, that was the writer's original thought, but I believed we could expand on that idea and take it further. Luckily Chris liked where I was coming from. It was important to create a spot that would look the best we could make it with our limited resources (ie tiny budget) and Chrisscript allowed us to do just that. 

What was the casting process like?

Casting was an interesting one both for on-camera talent and voice talent. We live and work in Australia and straight up when I read the script, it was obviously written for a North American audience. So I made the decision to follow through and create the spot for it's intended market. This meant we would have to cast our talent to look like someone who lived in North America. Luckily for us, talent agencies in Australia do have a diverse range of talent on their books and we partnered with a company called the right fit. who made it possible even on a very our small budget. All of our casting was done over Skype. For voice casting we again had fantastic results with Voicebunny.com. They are an absolute pleasure to work with and are an amazing asset for spec filmmakers. Our assistant Harrison kindly agreed to play and extra role in the spot as well.

How did you search for/lock a location?

In creating this spec tv spot we were always trying to get the biggest bang for the least money we could spend. I can say that it was Airbnb that made this location possible for us. We had a fantastic home to shoot in and really only had to enhance the set with some specific props to carry the story. 

How did you select your DP, crew?

My essential crew are my day to day work colleagues. DP Aaron Haberfield, Producer Greer Wilton and Production Assistant Harrison Welsh along with Makeup Artist Tira Jaye are my go-to team. We're all in this together and making spec work allows us to expand our creative muscles and give us the opportunity to show what we can do.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

First up we started with a conversation with Creative Director and Writer of the spot Chris DeNinno over Skype. We talked generally about how I wanted to tackle the script. With every project, we run through the typical stages of pre preproduction with the team and we put together our pre-pro document with all facets of the production ie, Cast, Wardrobe, Props, Location etc. This was then run past Chris for his thoughts.

I am a huge fan of pre-visualization or previz. So upon deciding on the script, the very next thing I did was previz the spot. I roughed out the story, angles of each of the shots, decided on the mood… then iterate until I essentially have the spot where I want it - it becomes my blueprint to shoot to. It’s also my way of doing storyboards without hand drawing them. Working with Chris in LA, and my team in Australia, I was able to show him my clearly articulated vision as Director. The shoot went very smoothly and we finished on time with everything we needed and more.

Previz for Fitbit: https://vimeo.com/256900347

Tell us about editing and finishing.

The spot was shot in the Red Weapon's native 8K format, though we chose to finish in 4K as this spot is a spec project and will live on online. We cut in Adobe Premiere and I actually made a few creative decisions moving slightly away from the animatic and using fewer shots in the spot.

Our awesome friends Chris and David at White Chocolate (post house in Sydney) kindly did the color grading for us gratis. We completed the sound design and 3D animation in-house at Toybox Films.

In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?

We were extremely happy with the final product, it turned out exactly how we planned, even better possibly.
More importantly, though our key stakeholder Chris DeNinno was very happy with the results as well, and that was the ultimate goal kicked. 

Any other thoughts.

It was a lot of fun to create an international spot here in Australia that looks like it would be right at home in the US. It would be amazing to get a call from an agency in LA to come make a spot over there. I think Spec bank is a fantastic resource for new and upcoming directors and there really is nothing else like it out there. 

Thank you for an amazing opportunity to be able to work with other creative professionals on the other side of the world and help realize their visions as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Southwest Airlines "Garage"




Credits: 

Producer: Michael Leary

Director: Michael Leary

DP: Robert Mickles

Writer: Dan Sorgen

Editor/Colorist: Michael Leary

Assistant Director: Dwayne Taylor

Gaffer: Matt Morrison

Set PA: Jackie Nelms

Set PA: Sam Lipinski

Sound: Dave Willis Lorenz

Sound Designer/Sound Mixer: Dave DeLizza

Hair/Make Up: Sara Griswold

Cast: Josh Powell


Why this script/concept? How does it reflect your vision as a commercial director?

This script reflects my comedic style which I consider over-the top and inspired by the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. As soon as I read it I wanted to shoot it. It also happens to be the second spot I directed written by Dan Sorgen. Our styles seem to mesh pretty well. 

What was the casting process like?

I worked with Josh Powell on a regional spot I directed a couple of years ago and when I read Dan's script, he was my first choice. He has the acting chops and the look for the part. I wanted someone who has a somewhat vulnerable, every day suburban look. 

How did you search for/lock a location?

I have close friends that I knew had a nice size, modern garage. They were kind enough to let us use it and they had a blast watching us shoot. I am always a big fan of single location commercial shoots. It gives you much more time to get what you want out of the day.

How did you select your DP, crew?

The DP Robert Mickles is someone I have worked with on many projects. We have developed a good working relationship over the years and he is the type of guy that just loves to work. He and the rest of the crew have been very generous with the time they have devoted to this shoot and others I have shot for my reel. Most of them have been working with me for some time and are always very professional and fun on set. Let me say that I have many favors to repay! :)

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The shoot went very smoothly. A few weeks before the shoot I tested the ability to jump and land in the wagon so that it looked realistic as it rolled towards the saw. After many tests we were able to get it down so that on the shoot day it was ready to go. Safety was an obvious concern and with shooting the correct angle and with the right lens, we were able to get the illusion the actor was closer to the saw than he really was. 

Tell us about editing and finishing.

Editing the commercial went very smoothly. I cut and colored the spot, and my good friend and colleague Dave DeLizza did the post sound design and mixing. Building the suspense with the music and sound design was very important to make the spot work, and Dan Sorgen collaborated and gave great recommendations in this process. Dave DeLizza did a great job in bringing his ear to the project and polishing it off.

In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?

For this spot, there is not much if anything I would of done differently. I learned a lot and will surely carry that over to the next spot whether it be for a client or on spec.

Any other thoughts.

Thank you Dan for writing a funny spot that was very fun to shoot, and thank you to the cast and crew. I'm looking forward to the next one!



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Los Angeles Trade Tech "The Artist"



Click here to watch.


Credits:  

Director: Chris Campbell 
Writer: Jedd Levine 
DP: Mike Reyes 
Producer: Ian Feiner & Rob Roth 
Starring: Michael Taber, Jake Jacobson, Chris Martin, Ying Sayun

Why this script/concept? How does it reflect your vision as a commercial director?

This script stood out to me because, in a way, it was exactly what I was looking for and I could immediately see how it would play out visually.  Also, I audibly laughed while reading the spot and that's very rare for me (often it's just a huff and a chuckle.)  I attribute that to the absurdity of the spot, and I just respond the best to commercials in that realm.  


What was the casting process like?

The casting process was luckily very easy in the way that we were searching for looks rather than dramatic delivery or anything like that.  So I wanted unique and quirky looking (vs drop dead handsome or beautiful) characters that really looked the part so that they'd just inhabit this timeless bullpen we shot in.  Luckily again, everyone clicked in with the treatment and script and got exactly what I was going for.  Made for a very easy and fun day.


How did you search for/lock a location?

The location I had actually shot on before (or on some of their other sets) down in Anaheim at Silverdream Factory.  So because I knew the staging of that location and knew that I could afford it, that actually really helped me pick this script and be confident that I could pull it off.

How did you select your DP, crew?

The crew and the DP are all friends of mine and we've been doing music videos or styles that were not always taking us in the direction that best suited us.  So the core crew I really approached with a question of "Let's do something that really excites us again."  For myself that was the most important thing that had me motivated through directing it, doing the production design, picking up equipment, etc etc.  But additionally, I was certainly asking them to really help me out and (because we've been friends for some time) they obliged for little or no money at all.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

Shooting went great actually.  Though our one mini crisis turned out not to be in the end.  Our main actor had to run to a callback – mid shoot – and then got stuck in traffic on the way back.  So we shot out his wide coverage and anything involving whole arms or face then let him go.  Then I had the makeup gal cover up my tattooed arm and I did all the close ups of the paint brush against the canvas.  That ended up being extremely streamlined because the DP and I would set up the shot and just roll without having to literally micro direct brush strokes.

Tell us about editing and finishing.


Editing and finishing were where the shoestring budget ended haha.  I edited the whole piece, which is one of my favorite parts, and then my DP and I colored the spot.  And coloring is the bane of my existence.  I don't know how colorists do it.  But overall, post went well since I shoot for the edit on set.

In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?

I think I would have not used the haze machine in hindsight, haha.  Old habits.

Any other thoughts?

Final thoughts: I'm very happy with it.  I got to spend the time to make something I was genuinely excited about without having to rush at all.  In the past, I've crammed two different 30s spots into one day and they really did both suffer in one way or another.  I'm very happy to be able to share this one with as many people as I can.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ball Park Franks "Big Spoon"



Click here to watch it now.



Credits (director, writer, DP, producer, etc.)

Producer/Director-Tom Holmes
Writer: Forrest Boleyn
DP: Brandan Friel
Editor: Cal Laird

Why this script/concept? How does it reflect your vision as a commercial director?

I love comedy, the more absurd the better. I was really impressed the way the writer set up the scene and punch line, all in 30 seconds.

What was the casting process like?

The casting process went remarkably smooth. I had previous experience with the Actors Access website so I went back to it for this project. I believe the quality of responses you receive is predicated on the quality of the script. So it didn’t surprise me when I started to get a lot of really good actors responding. Because there are no lines in the script, there was no official ‘audition’. It ended up being a short meet and greet.

How did you search for/lock a location?

I’m new to Los Angeles, so I decided to network at some of the City Chamber’s events to meet new people. I met the marketing director of one of the Marriot’s. After coming up empty handed searching other location sites, I asked him if it would be possible to shoot the spot in one of his rooms. He agreed and offered a generously discounted rate for the room. Moral of the story, get out and network!

How did you select your DP, crew?

I posted something on Mandy and Craigslist for an editor. Cal responded, and after a good initial conversation, he asked if I was looking for a DP and camera crew. He had some friends he could suggest. After looking at their reel, I talked with Brendan and I was set with an editor and camera crew within a few days. So luck was on my side again.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

I have been on some rough shoots and was fully expecting this could be another. I earmarked about 8-10 hours to shoot. When we got to the hotel they had changed the room, so we had an initial scurry to get everyone to the correct room. And once we got into the room, it was much smaller than it looked in photos. Even with a small crew and cast it was very tight. On top of that, the windows were blacked out so there was not a lot of fresh air moving through the room. But once we got into the room, things started to run smoothly. It ended up being a 6-hour shoot.

Tell us about editing and finishing.


The editor and myself thought we could get it done in two weeks. It ended up taking around two months. Throw in day job, additional sound cues and feedback from other crew, it added up. I didn’t mind. We were all on the same page of ‘lets get it right.’

In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?

Overall, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the shoot. As I mentioned earlier, it went remarkably smooth from start to finish. But in hindsight, I would have put more emphasis on costume design. Checking the location before the shoot would have given me an idea of possible problems, etc. And after each shoot, I take some time and go through each phase to see what needs to be improved for the next shoot. It always comes down to, preparation.

Any other thoughts?


This was my first project with Spec Bank and couldn’t be more pleased with its resources, scripts and community. What a great place to be if you’re trying to build your reel and develop relationships within this industry.