Monday, January 23, 2012

Stride Gum "Global Warming"

Director: Justin Foia

Writer: Hunter Fine

Why this script/concept? How does it reflect your vision as a commercial director? How was working with the writer?

I was attracted to spot based on the opportunity to direct more visual effects based material.  I find myself increasingly going in that direction as doing VFX (and motion graphics) is what I do for a living.  I already think in those terms of how things can be done in post, so I want to focus more on that kind of spot.  VFX driven storytelling and/or comedy is a pretty popular genre, so I hope to find more work there.  The script was elegant and simple and I thought it could lend itself to a more cinematic visual style -- something more hyper-real in terms of the arctic environment as well as the "thermostat" prop to be specific.  I told the writer that if it was okay I was going to push the production value higher because that was the real substance of the story.  Hunter Fine, the writer,  was great.  Super easy to talk to and work with.  I'm on the West Coast, but I got a chance to meet him in NYC this October and we spoke about the spot face to face before I started drawing boards.  This was a new and very cool experience for me, as doing spec work has meant largely collaborating with the writer on the phone or online.  In this case, an in person meeting allowed me to pitch how the production design was going to work.  We bounced various references around and I think we landed on the same page pretty quickly.

What was the casting process like?

I originally cast another actor for my lead, but due to scheduling it wasn't going to work.  I reached out to an actor who played a supporting role in a short film I directed this past year.  I knew he could nail it, so that part was easy.  I also ran it past Hunter so we were both happy with the choice.  My news caster role was recommended by another actor/director friend of mine and she was terrific.  I think that if you can cast people you've worked with it helps, but mostly it's good to have great actors no matter what.  That's more than 50% of the spot in my opinion.

How did you search for/lock a location?

The location was actually my brother's house.  But I chose it because of the character and not just convenience.  I was prepared to go elsewhere if the DP told me it wouldn't work.  On a budget those choices are easy, but I believe that location is very important.  Go the extra mile to get the right place.  In this case, it just had the look I wanted and a great window set up for lighting.  We were pushing warm tones, and the walls and blinds just meshed really well.  Also, set dressing it was key.  As to the "snow scenes" that was good old backyard green screen shooting.  We opted for an outdoor setup for natural light.  I have shot similar things on a sound stage with chimera lighting, and frankly, this worked out better for realism.

How did you select your DP, crew?

This was my first time working with the DP who came recommended by a director friend.  I saw their short film they did and was sold.  We met up a bunch of times to discuss the tone and look and felt we spoke the same language.  He was awesome.  The production designer came on via the DP and she was amazing.  We all did a tech scout to see the location then moved into pre-production.   She built this beautiful prop and set dressed everything.  I wanted a "LOST" type of technology that controlled the Earth's temperature, so she went in a retro direction with the build.   It was great.  The crew was really small but that helped to move fast.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

Shooting was easy except that our smoke machine broke, so we couldn't get the haze I wanted.  We opted to smoke about five cigars in a closed room until it was hazy enough.  True story.  I felt like we should have been playing cards.  The outdoor stuff was challenging because of light -- whereas we wanted real light, it failed to be overcast, so the DP and his AC had to do a lot to block out the raw sunlight.  Other than that, we were on schedule the whole time.

Tell us about editing and finishing.

I cut the spot and did the post work.  I had some consulting help on editing, and Hunter and I went through several cuts before we settled on the final one.   The story changed slightly in the structure of the spot, but this version felt the most solid.  I had done several matte paintings and plates for the post, but since I had done a spot similar to this before, I was ready for it.  The post on this spot could have it's own breakdown for VFX so I will just leave it at this. 

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

I would have gotten a little more coverage here and there for acting options, but I see that as a lesson for any spot going forward.  Just shoot it so you don't need it later.

No comments:

Post a Comment