Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ice Breakers Frost "This Magic Moment"

Click here to watch.

Director: Tom Grabon
Copywriter: Alex Harvey
Producer: Becky Train
DP: Richard Darge
Editor: Joe Uhlarik
Sound: Fletcher Alliston
Starring: Brian Lloyd, Kelly Dolan and Sophie the Golden Retriever
VO: David Light

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

I chose this script because I loved the twist in it.  The reveal gives the concept a bit of an edge, which I always like to have, and most of the humor leading up to it comes from a place of discomfort.  Alex's script is really funny, misleading and almost surreal until the big punchline and twist.  And it also has a dog, and dogs are consistently awesome.    

What was the casting process like?

The casting process was fun, but it was a bit strange for this concept because we were never playing the lead guy against an actual dog.  We didn't want to overwork Sophie or her owner Lauren, because they were doing us a favor by agreeing to the spot at all.  So for casting, we had human couples run through the scene, with the girl doing the nuzzling and snuggling that a dog might do.  We didn't make any of our actresses lick the actors' faces, though.  But that meant we had to take the actors at their word that they wouldn't have a problem with a dog going to town on their faces.  Brian and Kelly were actually a couple during our initial auditions, then we mixed up most of the couples for callbacks, but we realized they had worked really well together, so we reunited them for the shoot.    

How did you search for/lock a location?

I only asked three people if we could shoot in their living rooms, because my apartment is too boring and doesn't have the right look.  The first two said a polite no, and the third was Becky, my producer.  She came through huge on that and on everything else.  Her house and furniture are really nice and charming, and she didn't even charge insurance or location fees.  Thanks again, Becky and roommates.    

How did you select your DP, crew?

I've worked with a lot of the same key crew for most of my specs.  I met Rick the DP and Joe the editor while we were all at USC, and they have great senses of humor on top of their skills.  I love that they help provide a consistent feel to these spots.  Rick shot with his Red Epic, and he's constantly booked, so I'm surprised he wasn't too busy to help me out again.  More about Joe below.    

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The main challenge was finding a rhythm while filming with a happy but hungry Golden Retriever.  Sophie was great, but she was distracted at first by seeing her owner/mom, Linda.  So Linda actually offered to go off-set and read a book near our crafty and make-up areas.  And as long as we kept plenty of cream cheese on the side of Brian's face, Sophie was happy to participate.  The hardest part was getting her re-set to her starting marks, because we filmed most of her takes in series; we didn't want to lose her attention or energy with a lot of downtime.  Brian did a great unsung job of nailing his lines, putting up with messy cream cheese and dog tongue, and wrangling Sophie during takes.  We gave him a wrap gift of mouth wash, a lint roller and whiskey.   

Tell us about editing and finishing. 

Joe did a great job with the edit.  He put a good rough cut together right away, and he was really patient and willing to go through the footage with me to find some unexpected solutions.  He basically built the dog's "whoa" moment from a take that I had thought was our third or fourth best option originally.  Now, that's the moment I keep laughing at the most.  Things really started clicking when Joe laid the music out and edited the lyrics to match our gags.  Suddenly, our pace got a lot better, the spot had a lot more energy, and we were able to fit every moment from the script into an actual :30, which I really wanted to nail this time. 

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

Brian and Sophie finally did have a quasi-rehearsal the day before we shot.  But I still should have done a better job of preparing Brian for how we were going to shoot in lots of series, and I should have warned him better about how unpleasant that repeated sensation would get.   

Any other thoughts?

I just want to thank Alex again for his great script.  He and I talked a lot and collaborated closely the whole way through.  He was really open to trading ideas back and forth.  We even changed the product in his script from Ice Breakers Pacs to Frost, because Frost is a brand new product.  Alex was also open to using a different song, which I thought I might actually end up doing.  But it's a credit to his script that "This Magic Moment" worked perfectly as the music, and that's what he had built into the concept all along.Why 

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