Sunday, April 28, 2013

Canon "Bad Picture"


Produced and Directed by Tom Grabon
Written by Dan Sorgen
1st AD: John Christensen
DP: Richard Darge
Sound: Fletcher Alliston
Editor: Joe Uhlarik
Visual FX: Chris Bohr
Colorist: Nick Novotny
Starring: Harrison Brown, Val Emanuel, Neil Ruddy, Alice Gardin, Mitchell Hernandez and Felipe Machado

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

I really liked this script because it's not predictable from the get-go.  It's unclear why these people are doing these weird things and why the guy with the camera loves the terrible results.  It reflects my vision because it subtly makes fun of normal advertising, and I like that it's got plenty of jokes packed in tightly.  

What was the casting process like?

We didn't do traditional casting sessions.  Most of the actors are performers at the UCB Theater, and I'd seen enough of their shows to know they could play these parts.  Harrison hosts a show where he runs things with the same energy he has here.  Neil and Alice are on the same improv team together.  I've known Felipe for a few years, and he photobombs people that exact same way in real life.    

How did you search for/lock a location?

My buddy Derek Mio was originally going to act in this too, and he helped me track down the location.  He knew the owners and promoters of a few different places, and he got me in touch with Scott Chen at The Rabbit Hole in Alhambra.  It's a really cool new place, and we got to shoot there before they were fully open to the public.

How did you select your DP, crew?

I've worked with Rick, Joe and Fletch on almost all of my spots.  John AD'ed my last spec and did a great job here as well.  Joe recommended Chris Bohr, who's an excellent FX guy.  I actually met Nick, who's an awesome colorist, through Felipe.    

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The shoot was pretty smooth, except that none of our extras showed up.  We were supposed to have 6 or 7, but I can't really blame them for not coming out to Alhambra for no pay on a Sunday morning.  So most of the extras are crew members.  And luckily, the woman who crosses frame in the opening shot is friends with Scott, the bar owner, and she just happened to be there meeting him for lunch.  She was a great sport (we made them a half hour late).

Tell us about editing and finishing.

This was the first spot I've done that's really needed any visual FX, even these subtle ones.  Chris helped out a ton with extra light for the red eyes, extra glare for the grill, etc.  His big Canon logo is built out of dozens of separate little photographs, and it looks great.  So we really owe him a lot.  This was also the first time that Fletch used a separate lav mic for every actor in addition to the boom.  There was a lot for me to learn during this post process, which made it last longer than normal.  I think it's worth it, though, because I'm really pleased with this spot.        

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

I only wish I had made sure that the bar could handle a smoke machine.  We rented one, but I didn't want to risk setting off the smoke or fire alarms.  We weren't able to manually turn those alarms off, so we didn't know if the sprinklers would start or if the fire department would shut us down.  We probably would have been fine, and I would have loved that added atmosphere, but I just couldn't pull the trigger on it.

Any other thoughts.

Thanks for the great script, and thanks for being patient, Dan!

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