Thursday, March 11, 2021

CA Lottery "Mega Dream"



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.

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