Most of us here at Sweatpants Media come from a place where it’s cold and snowy during the holiday season. We just couldn’t make it through December without seeing any winter so we brought snow to Long Beach!
Panasonic came to us with an ALMOST impossible task this October… Produce a national television commercial on their new Home Security System. Easy. Concept it, prep it, shoot it, edit it, deliver it in 30 days. NOT EASY!
We had all hands on deck and scrambled to pull everything together quickly. Working through the shot list, storyboards, and overheads made my head spin. Producers Tim and Elliott, AD Dan Hartney and I had a lot of late nights at the office during the ten days of prep. The only conciliation was that I got to eat a lot of pizza because they are some of the only places that deliver late!
Our 50 person crew took over a quiet little neighborhood in Long Beach for four days. We shot the whole thing on the Red Dragon camera with the Fuji 19-90mm lens at 6K. Shooting at that resolution was probably a bit overkill since we were delivering it to the network in HD, but we were in tight spaces and really liked the wide camera sensor.
It was our first time working with DP Jeff McCoy and his team. We always get a little nervous before working with a new crew, but these guys didn’t disappoint. Jeff nailed the look I was going for and his crew didn’t make our AD sweat to badly.
Our production design team swapped furniture, replaced artwork, and hung lights to the point that it looked like Christmas threw up all over the living room. I couldn’t believe the transformation. Standing in there, you would never know it was October in southern California.
They covered the outside in fake snow, which is made from a biodegradable paper composite. It looked real and didn’t melt!
The concept of the spot revolved around Santa triggering alarms throughout the house. He interacts with our trained dog “Dart” and has to silence an alarm that gets set off by one of his reindeer “Rudolph”. It was my first time working with trained animals and it was awesome. The dog was a real pro – He could do just about any trick on command. The reindeer on the other hand wasn’t so cooperative. He has quite the gig. He just eats and moseys around with a smug look on his face because he just got paid a ton of money to eat. He costs about $6,000 for the day and doesn’t really have to listen to anyone. Even me the Director!
We were working with prototype products that didn’t fully function yet so our crack post team had to replace all of the screens with the correct graphics. It’s always easier to shoot things the right way on set, but sometimes there are quick deadlines and it’s not possible.
Our colorist Jerimiah really brought the piece to life. It’s amazing what can be done these days with color grading. It really makes the piece feel polished.
The shoot went off without a hitch despite the abbreviated prep time and long list of logistical challenges. Nothing like a crazy whirlwind project to wrap up the year!