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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment