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.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Fitbit "Step"


Click to watch.

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

Creative Director/Writer: Chris DeNinno (David and Goliath) 
Production Company: Toybox Films
toybox.net.au
Director: Glenn Cogan
DP: Aaron Haberfield
Producer: Greer Wilton
First AC: Harrison Welsh
Make up and Hair: Tira Jaye
Production and Costume Design: Greer Wilton
Online Editor: Andrew Sheldon
Colour Grade: Chris Grincott and David Mosqueda - White Chocolate
Sound Design: Glenn Cogan
3D animation: Glenn Cogan
Cast: Simone Smith - The Right Fit
Camera: RED Weapon
Edited in Adobe Premier
Grade: DaVinci Resolve
3D: Cinema 4D and Redshift Rendering Technology


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

For my first spec spot, I was looking for a brand or product I haven’t had the opportunity to work with before. This script was interesting to me in that it was a very simple scene that could easily have been done as a oner, and in fact, that was the writer's original thought, but I believed we could expand on that idea and take it further. Luckily Chris liked where I was coming from. It was important to create a spot that would look the best we could make it with our limited resources (ie tiny budget) and Chrisscript allowed us to do just that. 

What was the casting process like?

Casting was an interesting one both for on-camera talent and voice talent. We live and work in Australia and straight up when I read the script, it was obviously written for a North American audience. So I made the decision to follow through and create the spot for it's intended market. This meant we would have to cast our talent to look like someone who lived in North America. Luckily for us, talent agencies in Australia do have a diverse range of talent on their books and we partnered with a company called the right fit. who made it possible even on a very our small budget. All of our casting was done over Skype. For voice casting we again had fantastic results with Voicebunny.com. They are an absolute pleasure to work with and are an amazing asset for spec filmmakers. Our assistant Harrison kindly agreed to play and extra role in the spot as well.

How did you search for/lock a location?

In creating this spec tv spot we were always trying to get the biggest bang for the least money we could spend. I can say that it was Airbnb that made this location possible for us. We had a fantastic home to shoot in and really only had to enhance the set with some specific props to carry the story. 

How did you select your DP, crew?

My essential crew are my day to day work colleagues. DP Aaron Haberfield, Producer Greer Wilton and Production Assistant Harrison Welsh along with Makeup Artist Tira Jaye are my go-to team. We're all in this together and making spec work allows us to expand our creative muscles and give us the opportunity to show what we can do.

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

First up we started with a conversation with Creative Director and Writer of the spot Chris DeNinno over Skype. We talked generally about how I wanted to tackle the script. With every project, we run through the typical stages of pre preproduction with the team and we put together our pre-pro document with all facets of the production ie, Cast, Wardrobe, Props, Location etc. This was then run past Chris for his thoughts.

I am a huge fan of pre-visualization or previz. So upon deciding on the script, the very next thing I did was previz the spot. I roughed out the story, angles of each of the shots, decided on the mood… then iterate until I essentially have the spot where I want it - it becomes my blueprint to shoot to. It’s also my way of doing storyboards without hand drawing them. Working with Chris in LA, and my team in Australia, I was able to show him my clearly articulated vision as Director. The shoot went very smoothly and we finished on time with everything we needed and more.

Previz for Fitbit: https://vimeo.com/256900347

Tell us about editing and finishing.

The spot was shot in the Red Weapon's native 8K format, though we chose to finish in 4K as this spot is a spec project and will live on online. We cut in Adobe Premiere and I actually made a few creative decisions moving slightly away from the animatic and using fewer shots in the spot.

Our awesome friends Chris and David at White Chocolate (post house in Sydney) kindly did the color grading for us gratis. We completed the sound design and 3D animation in-house at Toybox Films.

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

We were extremely happy with the final product, it turned out exactly how we planned, even better possibly.
More importantly, though our key stakeholder Chris DeNinno was very happy with the results as well, and that was the ultimate goal kicked. 

Any other thoughts.

It was a lot of fun to create an international spot here in Australia that looks like it would be right at home in the US. It would be amazing to get a call from an agency in LA to come make a spot over there. I think Spec bank is a fantastic resource for new and upcoming directors and there really is nothing else like it out there. 

Thank you for an amazing opportunity to be able to work with other creative professionals on the other side of the world and help realize their visions as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Southwest Airlines "Garage"




Credits: 

Producer: Michael Leary

Director: Michael Leary

DP: Robert Mickles

Writer: Dan Sorgen

Editor/Colorist: Michael Leary

Assistant Director: Dwayne Taylor

Gaffer: Matt Morrison

Set PA: Jackie Nelms

Set PA: Sam Lipinski

Sound: Dave Willis Lorenz

Sound Designer/Sound Mixer: Dave DeLizza

Hair/Make Up: Sara Griswold

Cast: Josh Powell


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

This script reflects my comedic style which I consider over-the top and inspired by the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. As soon as I read it I wanted to shoot it. It also happens to be the second spot I directed written by Dan Sorgen. Our styles seem to mesh pretty well. 

What was the casting process like?

I worked with Josh Powell on a regional spot I directed a couple of years ago and when I read Dan's script, he was my first choice. He has the acting chops and the look for the part. I wanted someone who has a somewhat vulnerable, every day suburban look. 

How did you search for/lock a location?

I have close friends that I knew had a nice size, modern garage. They were kind enough to let us use it and they had a blast watching us shoot. I am always a big fan of single location commercial shoots. It gives you much more time to get what you want out of the day.

How did you select your DP, crew?

The DP Robert Mickles is someone I have worked with on many projects. We have developed a good working relationship over the years and he is the type of guy that just loves to work. He and the rest of the crew have been very generous with the time they have devoted to this shoot and others I have shot for my reel. Most of them have been working with me for some time and are always very professional and fun on set. Let me say that I have many favors to repay! :)

How did shooting go? Any challenges?

The shoot went very smoothly. A few weeks before the shoot I tested the ability to jump and land in the wagon so that it looked realistic as it rolled towards the saw. After many tests we were able to get it down so that on the shoot day it was ready to go. Safety was an obvious concern and with shooting the correct angle and with the right lens, we were able to get the illusion the actor was closer to the saw than he really was. 

Tell us about editing and finishing.

Editing the commercial went very smoothly. I cut and colored the spot, and my good friend and colleague Dave DeLizza did the post sound design and mixing. Building the suspense with the music and sound design was very important to make the spot work, and Dan Sorgen collaborated and gave great recommendations in this process. Dave DeLizza did a great job in bringing his ear to the project and polishing it off.

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

For this spot, there is not much if anything I would of done differently. I learned a lot and will surely carry that over to the next spot whether it be for a client or on spec.

Any other thoughts.

Thank you Dan for writing a funny spot that was very fun to shoot, and thank you to the cast and crew. I'm looking forward to the next one!