Recently, I directed/DP’ed and edited a series of 3 commercials for Pinnacle Bank. They all have a “Titans Checking” theme and the spots run on several channels during TV broadcasts in this regional market. Here is the story of how it came together.
I was brought into this in collaboration with the fine team at Locomotion Creative . They already had a concept and script together, which revolved around Titans fans who are banking customers in quasi-sports settings. It was a fun idea and Pinnacle Bank loved the concept! On a project of this scope, there are many phases and creative people involved to execute and plan. The key to success is having a great plan that covers all the contingencies and possible obstacles, so that you are creating solutions, not getting stuck with problems. All areas of Locomotion’s capabilities were brought in on this: branding, design, illustration, scriptwriting, casting, pre-production, production and post-production. I also ended up creating this “Behind The Scenes” (BTS) video that takes viewers through the process and shows what’s involved.
At the pre-production stage, I came into the mix and we discussed logistics, budgets, locations and shoot schedule. This was a series of 3 different spots, each with 20sec. of video content. I determined that we could shoot the spots over 1.5 days in 2 locations. The first day would be a Sunday shoot in the Brentwood, TN Pinnacle branch office. It was necessary to shoot when the bank was closed and we were able to utilize many of the branch staff as extras. We needed to operate a commercial smoke machine in the bank which meant that the sprinkler system needed to be bypassed. Glad I pointed that one out. Imagine a soaked bank lobby with ruined artwork, computers and video gear. Not good! The other location was a residential kitchen and that was going to be the following morning with a noon wrap time. The kitchen shoot was fairly simple compared to the bank.
Storyboards were prepped and I proceeded to block out a shot list based on most efficient setup from scene to scene and likely lens choices to use. Next came a casting call day at Locomotion attended by Pinnacle Bank executives and the Loco creative team. I shot the casting sessions quick and dirty. We had a great bunch of talented actors to choose from and it was hard to decide among several qualified people. It came down to a particular look and type that best fit the scripting, but they were all pros who knew what they were doing.
Next, I planned out what gear I would need and what my crew needs would be. The gear I decided on was the Sony PMW-F3, with Zeiss CP.2 prime lenses, recording externally as 10bit ProRes422 to a PIX240 recorder. For this shoot I knew I could really use the wide dynamic range afforded by the S-log mode in the Sony F3. The bank lobby is all glass and balancing the contrast would be challenging. Fortunately I had a talented gaffer, Shannon Gamble, to help with lighting and grip, and on a 2nd scouting trip he and I mapped out what we would need.
The shoot days themselves went very well and stayed on schedule and according to plan. But the reason that happened was because we HAD a plan, two scouting trips, and a half day of camera testing that caught a few tech issues in workflow and equipment. Everyone was prepared, on-time and fun to work with! I know that sometimes clients think they can save time and money by cutting corners, but I can assure you that every minute and $ spent on the front end made a successful outcome in the finished pieces.
Next came editing, color grading, audio mixing, sound design and outputs: which are all phases that I handled. Voiceover was recorded outside and the 3 – :30’s, also with 3- :15 versions, were edited and posted in about a week’s time. There were just very minor changes from the client, since we matched the storyboards and scripts very closely. Yet another reason that a good plan insures success: no surprises or unknowns for clients to discover after production.