Friday, June 13, 2014

Powerball "Machine"


Director: Ryan Patrick
Producer: Brynne Copping
DP: Jeff Bierman
Copywriter: Carlos Wigle
Lead Scientist: Dink O'Neal
Millionaire: Logan Pietz
Scientists: Poonam Basu, Alfred Rubin Thompson, Gerold Wunstel, Justin Joseph
Gaffer: Brice Bradley
Production Designer: Elizabeth Burbach
Editor: Chris Amos @ Final Cut LA
Colorist: Tyler Roth @ Company3 Chicago
Sound Mix: Alex Reeves @ Point of Blue LA
VFX: Tanner Merrill
Why this script/concept? How does it reflect your vision as a commercial director?
I love quirky storytelling, especially narratives where you can get in there and design the environment. A lot of spots and music videos land in the desaturated, fly-on-the-wall realm these days, but I get excited about creating little, unique story worlds. Directors like Dougal Wilson, Patrick Daughters and Andreas Nilsson do the kind of work I look up to. So hopefully I can get to their level one day.
What was the casting process like?
We spent just one day casting all the roles. Dink (the lead scientist) and Logan (the millionaire) both were immediate standouts for me. From there, it was finding actors to fill the supporting roles. A lot of it was trying to make it a bit unconventional. Take Alfred, the scientist who pulls the power switch. He's an amazing actor who's been on a ton of TV shows. But he's always cast as the security guard or tough guy. But he totally works here as a scientist, a role I don't think he's ever played. I love thinking of him as the union scientist who's fed up with his switch pulling gig.
How did you search for/lock a location?
In my treatment, I was originally looking for a Cape Cod-esque house. When when I started searching, I just couldn't find anything that fit into the location budget. So I got with a location scout and he showed me some options that had a more modern look. When I saw the one we ended up shooting at, it really felt like it had a balance between a laboratory and a home, which I think fits with the concept. From there, I worked with the production designer to not only bring it lab equipment that felt as clean as the space but also wanted to make sure we added touches of home to the environment – pillows, blankets, etc. Just to make it feel slightly less sterile.
How did you select your DP and crew?
Jeff Bierman shot the spot. I first heard his name after he shot a short my friend was doing with Shane Carruth. When I saw the footage from that, it looked great, so I made a note of his name and just kept his work in the back of my head. When we were prepping the spot at a production company's offices, I bumped into him by accident while he too was prepping another job. And from there, he jumped onboard.
Brynne Copping, the producer, has been a friend of him for a few years now. We used to work at a production company together but have always kept in touch. She produced one of my music videos in the past and it was just a natural fit for something like this. She now produces for Humble.
And lastly, I have to give a hand to Elizabeth Burbach, the production designer. I could not have done this without her and she worked her ass off to make this look amazing. I met her through another production designer that I did a job with last year. And since the Lotto shoot, we did another music video for Atlantic Records which will be out soon.
How did shooting go? Any challenges?
Shooting went fantastic and we didn't hit any bumps in the road. The challenge is all in the preparation.Once we got to set, I knew it was time to have some fun and experiment. Because I was a little nervous about getting timing right, I ended up shooting a version with and without the whip pans. But thankfully, the whip pans worked out great.
Tell us about editing and finishing?
My editor came to set and tapped into the monitor so he could record a live feed and do an on-set edit. By the time we were finished shooting, we had a rough cut going. This helped a ton with timing and making sure we were hitting that 30 second sweet spot. For the ending line, we shot a ton of different options. Instead of Bieber, I grabbed everything from Waterworld to Beanie Babies to just an embarrassing situation. We showed it to a handful of people and it was soon clear that the Biebs was the most universally recognized.
After that, we composited in some effects onto our computer screens and sent it off to Chicago for a color pass at Company3.
In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?
I think I would have pushed myself to get more options from the actors. When you have a full day to shoot a 30 second spot, there's no reason not to try a billion different ways to deliver a line. While we definitely had a handful, I would have pushed myself (and the actors) a bit more. I feel like great comedy is often about playing the opposite. If you're playing a lumberjack, try it soft and sweet.  Make that question a statement. And so on. The spot came out great – but I find myself wondering where it could have gone if we played around more. But that's probably what I'll always be wondering.
Any other thoughts?

Just excited to make more!