Friday, January 31, 2014

Dodge Dart "High Speed"


Director: Matt Devino
Producer: Francoise Saint-Pierre
Production Co: Snackhaus
Mr. Fisher: Alain Azoulay
Guy: Erik Duchesne
Girl: Wendie Weldon
Executive Producer: Emile Hanton
Copywriter: Alan McCoy
DP: Darrin P Nim
1st AC: Kevin Hughes
Sound Design: Steve Devino
1st AD: Neil Arnote
Makeup Artist: Marley Gonzales
VO: Erik Duchesne
PA: Jake Torossian, Jeffrey Sicile, Simone Silva

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

I chose the "High Speed" script for a few reasons. It grabbed my attention immediately, and it was a great concept that included a kind of quirky comedy that I'm drawn to. My favorite kinds of commercials use comedy in a way that makes you think "what the heck is going on here" and then you laugh about it, like the Old Spice spots or the recent Skittles spots. I also liked that it was a car commercial, and for some reason I've done a lot of work with cars and other vehicles in my directing career already so I had experience with that. That last thing that I liked was that it was simple yet compelling, just one location and a few driving shots, so I felt achievable on a tiny budget.

What was the casting process like?

The casting process was great, we used Cazt in Los Angeles and had a fairly big turn out. It's a really cool service where they give you casting space for free and film each audition which is automatically uploaded to their server for you to watch later. All you have to do in return is give written feedback on each actor's audition. In the end I had to make some hard choices between some really good actors, but I think my cast for this spot was great and they all played really well off of each other.

How did you search for/lock a location?

Getting a location for this spot was fairly easy. There's only the one conference room location, so we used the office building that my Dad works in and were able to get it for free. Living in LA there's a few obvious choices for locations when shooting vehicles, and the canyons that run between the PCH and the Valley are what we went with. The winding roads and beautiful back drops really helped add a dynamic feel to the car footage.

How did you select your DP, crew?

My crew mostly consisted of friends I've met over the years working in the film industry in LA, everyone donated their time on this and I couldn't thank them enough. My DP, Darrin P. Nim is a friend who I've known for a while but never had the chance to work with before. I'd always really liked his work, especially a recent music video he DP'd for Alkaline Trio featuring Milla Jovovich. My producer Frankie Saint-Pierre was actually interning with the production company Snackhaus that I do a lot of work with. She'd been interested in producing so I brought her on as a learning experience for her and she did a great job. My Dad did the sound recording and post sound work, he works in the music industry full time, but it's fun to work with him on projects like this. Everyone else from my 1st AD to AC's were friends of mine or other people on the crew, and we got a few PA's and Hair & Makeup off of craigslist.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

Shooting went pretty well overall. The office stuff was just about running the scene enough times to get some funny reactions from everyone that worked together. The piece of paper hitting the Mr. Fisher character in the face was a complete accident, but he didn't break character and it worked out great in the final spot. The biggest challenges revolved around the car itself. My DP originally rigged Kino bulbs along the sides of the ceiling of the car for the dialogue shots, but because we were forced to mount the camera on the hood of the car we saw the bulbs in the frame. We ended up having to lose those and go with a much smaller Kino in the center of the ceiling near the dome lights. This only provided light for our actress Wendie, so when we did the car to car stuff we had to drive around running the scene over and over until we got a good take with the right amount of natural light on our two male actors in the front seats. The other challenge was getting the beauty shots of the car, normally you'd want a russian arm for that sort of thing but that was way out of my budget. We settled for shooting out of the back hatch of an SUV with the camera on a tripod. It sounds like it shouldn't work but we were able to get quite a lot of good shots, way more than what made it into the spot.

Tell us about editing and finishing.

Editing was interesting on this one. I was an editor full time for quite a few years before moving into directing, so I still like to edit my own projects. We shot the spot on the Canon 5D Mark III using the Magic Lantern hack so we could shoot Raw video. The picture quality is amazing, it's similar to a RED camera for a fraction of the cost. Where you pay for that is in post. Right now there isn't any editing software that supports the files it creates natively, so getting every shot processed and into an editable quicktime format adds a ton of work. There's a great article that explains the whole process here - Once I got a handle on the workflow it was editing as normal. 

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

I can't really say I would have done anything differently on this spot. If we had a budget for some bigger and better equipment I would have done things differently, but that wasn't the case. We used what we had and made something I'm really happy with. With the right crew of talented people and some creativity you can make something good without a huge budget, you've just got to have the motivation to do it.

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