Monday, May 30, 2022

Ted Baker "At Your Worst" and Pringles "3 Second Rule"





Click to watch Pringles 


Click to watch Ted Baker 

Credits

Ted Baker:

Writer - Brian Engleman
Cast: Kenna Roubicek, Talitha Hanks, Naomi Winders
Director: Kade Atwood
1st AD: Garet Allen
DP: Sam Sargeant
Production Designer: Cassie Powell
Script Supervisor: Lucie Riddell
Gaffer: Robert Chuck
Key Grip: Josh Miller
Best Boy: Steve Butler
Grip: Zhiyang Tsai
1st AC: Ryan Nordgran
Audio Mixer: Ike Flitcraft
Colorist: Keyhan Bayegan

Pringles:

Writer: Dan Sorgen
Cast: Arvin Mitchell, Megan Rico
Director: Kade Atwood
DP: Josh Miller
Gaffer: Zhiyang Tsai
Key Grip: Vincent Pelina
Production Designer: Megan Rico

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

I like to find comedy in unexpected places. A lot of spots today go for the obvious or safe option. These scripts stood out to me because they’re not a “typical” ad. Who would think to make a Pringles spot in an operating room or a fashion brand at a funeral? For me, those are the types of ads I remember because they do the unexpected. 

What was the casting process like?

Most of the cast I already work with on a sketch comedy show, Studio C. Kenna and Talitha were recommended by the other cast members. Casting is such a crucial piece and I was lucky to have access to an extremely talented pool of comedians. They brought so much life to the roles and a lot of what you see was improvised. 

How did you search for/lock a location?

Google maps! I wasn’t too picky on what they needed to look like because we did a lot of set dec. Rigging the 40 feet of sheers in the background of the funeral spot occupied the entire crew for almost an hour. It ate up a lot of our schedule but looking at the shot, it was totally worth it. It’s amazing how a little set dec can transform an otherwise empty space. 

How did you select your DP, crew?

These are people I’ve been working with for a very long time. Sam gave me my first ever role on a film set back in college and now he’s my go to DP. I’m picky when it comes to finding collaborators. My crew isn’t just talented at their job. They’re my close friends who I can spend all day with… because I am in fact spending all day with them! Their positive attitudes mean everything to the production, it’s the foundation of a successful spot. 

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The Funeral was one of three spots we shot in two days. It was difficult to keep track of everything at times. But our prep work was very thorough and I’m happy to say we made our days! 

Pringles was a standalone shoot, making it much easier to coordinate. My main concern was the schedule. We had the actors for a very short time frame without a minute to spare. A couple problems came up along the way but we were able to make up time later and finish on schedule! 

Tell us about editing and finishing.

Editing took a while. Not because of the cuts but because of the tag. The Funeral spot was originally an ad for shoes. On set we found out the bottom part of the coffin didn’t open, killing the original branding. I thought the spot was ruined because it didn’t tie into a specific product. Luckily that’s when we learned about X4Y and realized the general branding increased the amount of companies the spot could be purchased by.

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

In the Funeral, there’s a cut from a medium wide to a medium. We couldn’t adjust the angle as much as I would hav liked so it feels like a jump cut. The solution was to have an extra cross frame to cover the cut. But we only had one extra and she was part of the beginning, to help us get into the scene. In post we cut that beginning segment and I should have changed her blocking on set.

Any other thoughts.

It’s great that Spec Bank has created a place for directors and copywriters to create work that would otherwise remain on a page. It’s equally exciting to see the emergence of X4Y and be able to produce spec work with a greater chance of selling it. 

There remains a huge barrier of entry to the commercial production industry. I’ve been fortunate enough to have jobs that allow me the time and financial stability to create spec work. I imagine for every director like myself there are many others that don’t have that privilege. The ability to direct is not correlated to the amount of money you have in your bank account. I hope to see agencies and production companies begin to form programs that allow unestablished, underprivileged director’s the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. 



Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Coors "Kiddie Pool"

 


Click to watch.


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

Director: Seth Rotkin
Writer: Dan Sorgen
DP: Jacob Hellinga
Main Cast: Jeff Daniels

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

I was looking for a simple, funny concept. Setup and punchline. Something that could play out in 15 seconds. When I came across this script on Spec Bank, I knew it'd be perfect. My directing style is to infuse humor into little moments, and this script gave me that opportunity without being an outright comedy spot. In my initial research I figured out that adults can't fit fully submerged in most kiddie pools - either I'd need a comically large pool, or have to cheat the underwater shots using a full pool. That creative challenge intrigued me.

What was the casting process like?

We cast through Actors Access and asked selected talent to put themselves on tape. We were open to a wide range of types, and let the casting process lead us to the perfect actor for the role.

How did you search for/lock a location?

I needed a space that instantly read "backyard party" and luckily a family friend had the perfect corner of their backyard.

How did you select your DP, crew?

DP extraordinaire Jacob Hellinga and I work together on everything. With covid still a factor, I wanted to keep crew to a minimum. I substituted a thorough pre-production process for more hands on set. We found the perfect time of day to make lighting simple, tested out props and set design ahead of time, did a half day of photographing different possible framings, and ran lots of tests with the underwater camera. I decided against on set sound, instead recording everyone's ADR before they wrapped. So in the end, it was a crew of two.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

Shooting was mostly a breeze. The biggest challenge was the weather - it dipped down to the low 60's, and everyone was either in a swimsuit or summery clothing. We tried to do everything possible to make the cast comfortable: hot drinks, warm food, blankets and towels, and a heated holding area. Jeff and the background performers were incredible troopers. All the prep work we put in made things run as smoothly as possible, and I think that makes everyone on set feel like they're in good hands.

Tell us about editing and finishing.

Most of my post production effort went towards compositing the final shot to make it look like Jeff was blasting out of the tiny kiddie pool. I was so excited to get into it that I started post by compositing the entire 20 second take when in the end we only needed the last 8 seconds. The lesson for myself here is that it's always smart to get a rough picture lock before going into the visual effects nitty-gritty. At the same time, I was motivated to make the visual effects work and learned in the process, so I don't consider it time wasted.

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

We had to come back a second day to reshoot the Coors Light can underwater - by far the simplest shot. I planned the more complex shots and figured we'd easily grab the hero shot at some point. It's a good reminder to plan out every shot all the way through. Even if you end up changing things during production, you have to have a strong initial plan. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Expedia.com "Cheryl"




Director – Frick N Frack (Joe Laporte & David Liehn)
Executive Producer – Frasier Glenn @ Ebon Sheep Productions
Producer – Matt Kovacs
Writer- Dan Sorgen
DP – Evan Butka
1st AC – Neil Hausey
Gaffer – Gonzalo Digenio
Key Grip – Orlando Ordonez
Production Designer – Johnny Sposato
Art Swing – Holden Pattie
Wardrobe Stylist – Mark Katigbak
Hair and Makeup – Zdra Jaye
Editor – Erik Vogt-Nilson
Colorist – Elliot Powell
Sound Designer – Kevin Dippold
Script Supervisor – Natalie Brady
1AD John Alzate
2AD Hank Hartnell
PA - Jesse Brotnov
PA – Colette Ussery


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

As a directing team, we were looking for a comedic spot to add to our reel. Something simple but funny that we could shoot on a limited budget. We read through all the comedy spots on Spec Bank and narrowed it down to a few finalists.  In the end, the Expedia spot we chose seemed to be most in line with our style and sense of humor.  The script was catchy and we knew we could make it visually come to life. We also wanted to make a spot for a big brand with cache like Expedia. 

We hope to cement our niche as comedy directors and believe this spot will showcase our talents.  

What was the casting process like?

We casted and shot this spot in the middle of the Co-vid19 Pandemic, so a lot of the normal processes of casting and prep went out the window. The only roles we specifically casted for were our lead actress and our Voice Over actor. We found both of those talent on LA Casting and performed the whole process online.  Digital submissions, remote auditions, photo submissions for wardrobe, etc.

We had a pretty specific idea for what we thought we wanted our main actress, Cheryl, to look like (Frumpy, middle aged, midwestern type). We received a lot of submissions of all types.  It was clear very quickly that the actress we cast was the best fit for us. She had the best script reads and the personality we were looking for in our lead character. She wasn’t exactly what we had in mind for the character (she was actually much younger than we had originally envisioned).  But we quickly changed our mind once we saw her audition tape and it ended up working out great for our spot.

For our remaining supporting characters and background, we cast actors we have worked with before who we knew would complement our lead actress and fill out our office location.
How did you search for/lock a location?

Once again, due to CoVid, we did most of our location scouting remotely.  We only went to view a couple of the most promising locations in person for a walk-thru tech scout. We needed a very specific location for this project, and it turned out to be harder to find than we thought. We were looking for a 90’s style office location with a cubicle farm look. (Our main reference was “Office Space”). Due to the pandemic, a lot of locations were not available.  

We also found out from our location contacts that a lot of those older style offices had been updated and converted to more modern spaces. So, the availability of such spaces was definitely limited. Eventually we found the perfect location in a real estate office that was closed for the pandemic.  Employees were working from home and the office was available to rent for filming. It had the exact cubicles we were looking for and all the office supplies (set dressing) we needed.  We were able to save a lot of money in our Art Dept budget, as well as set-up time because the space was already dressed.

How did you select your DP, crew?

We work with a couple of different DPs for most of our projects based on the look we are going for.  We chose Evan Butka for this because he moves fast but always utilizes good lighting. We wanted a flat, drab look for this spot, so his setup was actually fairly minimal on this shoot. Most of our department keys were crew we had worked with on previous projects. (DP, Editor, Makeup, Sound).  We were able to work with a new wardrobe stylist on this project who we had been wanting to collaborate with and were very happy with the results.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The shoot was actually very smooth. We finished ahead of schedule and even came in under budget. As a directing team, we spend a lot of time in prep making sure we are on the same page and have as much planned out as possible.  That way on the day, we can divide and conquer.  Often one of us will be working with the talent, while the other is setting up the next shot with the DP.  We like to think of ourselves as a 2 headed monster. We can cover more ground that way and it proves to be very efficient on set.

Tell us about editing and finishing.

We used an editor and a sound designer that we had worked with before on a previous project. Our sound designer was actually our on-set sound recorder/mixer which was helpful since he was already familiar with the material.  He incorporated some foley sounds of his own to complement what he recorded on set.  Our VO actor recorded dialogue in his home studio and then sent it to our sound designer who adjusted levels and added it to the mix.

Our editor was able to turn around a 1st cut very quickly which was helpful because we shot 2 alternate endings.  After watching both options, we were able to decide which direction to go in and then started refining the cut. We did a couple more passes and tweaked along the way, but the edit stayed fairly true to our original script and storyboards. We also worked with a colorist to help us define the overall mood and feel of the story.

Once all the post work was finished, our editor put everything together into a final cut.

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

I think we are both very pleased with the way the spot came out (especially on a limited budget). I think we successfully brought the script to life and are happy with the performance we got from our actors. I don’t think we would have done much differently.  We found a great script to work with, planned well in prep, and executed on our shoot day.

We hope you enjoy our commercial for Expedia.com. 
 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

CA Lottery "Mega Dream"

 



Credits 

Live Action:

Director: Maciek Sokalski
Writer: Dan Sorgen
Director of Photography: Taylor Harris @taylorharrisbgf
Live Action Producers: Lisa & Laura Bunbury @bunburysisters
Art Director: Tim Gray
Assistant Art Director: Lindsay Woodcox
Gaffer: Mark Christian @chark_mristian
Key Grip: Tyler Startzell @tstarfilms
Makeup: Alexis Oakley @alexisoakley

Post Production:

VFX Supervisor: Maciek Sokalski
Tracking: Mike Bettinardi
Edit/VFX: Paid Time Off @get_pto
FX: Joao Rosa @joaorosa1986
Color: Gabe Sanchez @gabe_jl_sanchez
Sound Mix: Austin Roth @austin_pow3rz

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

I think this script was a really fun take on the conversation we've all had in our heads. It usually goes something like "If I won 500 million dollars I would get a ...", but what I liked about this guy especially was that it captured the big kid inside all of us at the same time. It was just a great concept with a fun tagline and I happen to be handy with visual effects, so felt I could do it in a high-end way that satisfied my vision. I'm really proud of the way it turned out too.

What was the casting process like?

I was lucky to have a great producing team that was able to streamline casting for me while I helped iron out all the tech challenges. Our hero in the tub was exactly the look I was going for as far as demeanor goes. Luckily he is was somebody I knew and is a successful stand-up comedian, so putting him shirtless on set for a few hours seemed to pale in comparison to being on stage. The girl with the bubble was somebody close to me that I knew had time to get the bubble right as it was very integral to the shot being successfully executed. 

How did you search for/lock a location?

The location really came down to the price for us. I needed a 3 wall green screen stage and when looking for those, they have a lot of additional costs associated with them. My producing team was able to find Greenery Studios which really worked with us and felt reasonable for the prelight and actual day of the shoot. 

How did you select your DP, crew?

I chose my DP because he had extensive experience with gimbals and walking with them in a clever manner to reduce motion on the Y-axis. He was mostly working on car commercials at the time and welcomed the challenge I presented. The question I had was, how can we get this to feel like a Steadicam shot but on a lower budget? He rose to the challenge and we got some great takes. The rest of the crew were seasoned guys that he worked with and nailed the lighting reference I gave them. I was lucky to have them. 

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The biggest challenge was that the move was specifically timed around the choreographed action of the talent in specific sections. The problem was that there was no way to really rehearse until everyone was on set the day of. I was able to quickly breakdown beats into digestible portions and we just built upon each one. We rolled on rehearsals and once we got a good take, I played it back for the talent to tweak certain things in performances to get the most out of everyone. 

The second biggest challenge was getting the bubble to not pop and stay in the frame. So I needed the DP to not keep our hero in the tub framed up, but shoot through the bubble and track it as it was moving at the right pace. On the day we only had time for about 8 takes after rehearsals and only 3 of which were usable. Of those, there was only one real winner with another take being a 2nd option should something pop up on the editorial side. 

Tell us about editing and finishing.

Since this was all one move and shot at 6k with a 4k center acquisition, I had the intention of pushing in and out. The first step was to figure out what the final framing and timing would be. Then, having the framing figured out gave us opportunities to ignore some aspects of the frame in VFX as it would be off-screen. That is where time and energy were saved. The spot was very visual effects heavy and integrating the live-action and CG plate was probably the most consuming of it all.  

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

I think with any project you just don't know, what you don't know. I can't say I'd do anything differently but staying positive and being able to pivot was always the key to making this or any project work out.

Friday, January 17, 2020

VW "Drive Empowered"



Click to watch. 

Credits

Director: Daniel Kontur
Writer: Dan Sorgen
DOP: Zoltan Devenyi
Producer: Kinga Harnasi
Music: Luke Richards
Sound: Mauricio d'Orey

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

Breaking into the automotive sector is always very tough. Having a spec spot in this field could prove to be very crucial later on. The script has a very universal theme - we all have insecurities and all wish to climb the career ladder but we always have inner voices pulling us back. Showing a character break out of that and defeating his "inner demons” was something I felt would be nice to show. It has a positive feel to it. 

What was the casting process like?

Hilariously simple. There aren’t too many English speaking actors based in Budapest. My producer Kinga was having drinks in town 3 weeks prior to our shooting date and met the two actors in the smoking area of a pub. They both fitted the profile and age. She invited them to meet me and things just fell into place.

How did you search for/lock a location?

We knew we needed a private road to shoot the car scenes. There’s no way the police would have tolerated such a shoot on public roads. We used our local connections of location managers and they suggested a few locations we checked out. Luckily, one of them suited perfectly with a road surrounded by autumn trees. 

How did you select your DP, crew?

Zoltan was recommended to me by local producers who have worked with him previously. It’s always a little nerve wrecking doing a job with someone you haven’t worked before - but we hit it off pretty much straight away. We also collaborated with OMG Visuals who are car shoot specialists - they choreographed the two cars and camera movement in a way I’ve never thought was possible. 

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The car shoot was tricky. Also totally weather dependent - we actually had to move the shoot day by 10 days due to heavy rains. Rigging the camera to the car is also time consuming so we had to schedule it very carefully in order to get the most important shots first. Also having shot at the end of November we only had about until 3-4PM until it got dark. It was pretty stressful to say the least. 

Tell us about editing and finishing.

We edited about 15 versions, tried all sorts of lengths and eventually settled on the 45 seconds. Thankfully I was able to pull a few favours from old colleagues in London. Luke scored an original track for the film in his London studio and Mauricio designed the soundscape and mixed it all together. The grade was also done by a friend of our DOP. 

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

I would have gotten a little more out of the actors. There were no rehearsals whatsoever. 
The office scene could have become stronger if I had played a little more with it. At one point, I had the idea to include a secretary next to the boss, could have been an interesting addition potentially. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Coors "Buy Beer"


Watch here. 


Credits:

Daughter - Kelly Mulvihill
Emo Boyfriend - William Henningsen
Narrator - Dean Temple
Father - Michael Ralff

Directed by Constant Van Hoeven
Written by Max Page
Producer & Cinematographer - Andrew Porter
Make up: Lisa Wood
Gaffer / Grip - Ryan Moynihan
1st AC - Guy Paul Delisfort

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

I'm a cinematographer, so I approached things differently. I really wanted to shoot something funny and clean looking with lighting coming from the windows. I searched for something that wouldn't take too long to shoot and wasn't complicated. My friend who was a director agreed to direct this script and we shot it at his house.

What was the casting process like?

I put an ad on backpage.com and found the daughter character. The other actors I found through social media and other online websites. It was fairly simple.

How did you search for/lock a location?

I picked this script based on a location we already had. My director friend just bought a new house and new it would be perfect.

How did you select your DP, crew?

The gaffer and director were friends of mine, who have work together in the past. The makeup artist and 1st AC I found online after I posted something on facebook.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The shoot went very well. We planned out all the shots and talked about everything beforehand. I had a lighting diagram. The only challenge was finding a makeup artist. The original makeup artist bailed the day before and we really needed one. Luckily I found someone very quickly. 

Tell us about editing and finishing.

I edited a few cuts and showed them to the director and he gave me some feedback. We added some elevator music, it went pretty quickly. I shot the beer can after the shoot in my apartment.

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

Not really, maybe next time shoot something that would incorporate a different lighting scenario. Would love to shoot something at a bar or something like that. It was fun!

Any other thoughts.

If you need a DP, call me! I'm located in NYC. 


My website: http://andrewbdporter.com/

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Point 3 "Will You"




Credits

Producer - Christopher Kelley
Director - Christopher Kelley
Cinematographer - Michael Girandola
Starring - Michael Duradola
Hair & Make Up - Jacqueline Valega
Editor - Christopher Kelley
Voiceover - Bryan Keith Burton
Sound Design & Mix - Tom Morris
Colorist - Josh Bohoskey
PA - Marc Gonzalez

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

I really wanted to do a spot that lent the opportunity to use expressive film techniques to tell a great story. I'm looking to build a reel that features those two skills and I'm pretty happy with how the first effort came together.

As for the script, the VO made me want to get up and run a marathon so it was a lot of fun to take that energy and put it into this spot so hopefully someone else feels it too.

What was the casting process like?

I put up an ad on BackStage and poured through headshots until I found the person who was the one. Once I found him, we met at a gym and played HORSE and just talked for a bit. I've found that taking that extra time really helps out a lot and opens up lines of communication that help on set and show in the edit.

How did you search for/lock a location?

I knew we needed to have a few locations to keep up the energy and interest in a 60 second edit. I'm based in Brooklyn and after deciding on the brand I thought would be interested in this spec, it seemed that all the locations I'd need were right around my apartment. Once I had some options, my DP and I scouted to find which would be best for camera and the time of day that we were shooting. As for locking them, the only money I really had to spend was the gym. To me, it was worth it knowing we would be getting the lighting the way we wanted it in the morning. Everything else I was able to get for free or with the support of some friends.

How did you select your DP, crew?

I'm really close with my DP. We've been working on sets together since freshman year of college and are both looking to break into similar areas of the industry. We talked about the script and what we wanted to do and he did an incredible job. The rest of the crew was people we knew who were generous enough to help.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

We shot over a 2-day period on the weekend. It was a small crew on set so moving our equipment around was a bit labor intensive, but otherwise we really didn't have any issues that threatened what we wanted to accomplish which I'm very grateful for.

Tell us about editing and finishing.

I come from a heavy post background so I felt really comfortable in the edit. I love diving into the footage and seeing what works and what doesn't. Every piece has it's challenges but it's always fun to cut something based on your interpretation and see how it lands. Luckily, the brand Point 3 Basketball felt strongly enough to run in on their channels, so that definitely felt validating.

When it was time for finishing, we showed the spots to some people who we were hoping would be interested and luckily they agreed. Josh is an amazing colorist so for him to say yes felt like a huge win. Tom who did the sound design and mix was someone I found based on an entry he made to an industry competition. I thought the spot he placed for lined up with what our spot was doing and he also agreed, then totally knocked it out. It was great working with both of them.

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

I'm not sure if I would have done much differently in terms of producing this, but taking a project from start to finish definitely helps shine a light on your own tendencies as a director. For anything I do moving forward, I think having a great understanding of the relationship between the script, images, and viewer is something I'll constantly be thinking about and looking to explore with on future projects.