Jun 18, 2013
Sometimes you just need a quickie project to stay sharp. That’s what this was. A few weeks ago, my bud and long time Internet boyfriend Matt Jeppsen announced:
“Hey, I’m coming to town and I’ll have these new Schneider Xenon lenses with me. Want to shoot something?”
I said, “Sure!”
And then proceeded to pitch an idea that involved 20 actors, a closed street, choreography, a 20-ft panda bear puppet, and an f14 flyover.
Jeppsen replied, “How about something we can shoot in half a day? We’re on vacation after all.”
I assume this response was due to his hatred of pandas (true, ask him), but I felt he had a point. I took the elaborate concept, boiled it down to the essential idea, and came up with this. PhoneGuy vs sidewalk.
I must admit there have been times I’ve wanted to slap the phone out of someone’s hand while they meandered across my path on the sidewalk. Dude, just, duuuude, put it down for like, thirty seconds while you walk from the gym to your car. I bemoan these slow-walking iDolts and their enslavement to The Cloud, and then, without the faintest whiff of irony, I’m on my phone tweeting about it. So yeah, this guy is me. Consider this spot a note-to-self. Apparently, this is an actual public safety issue and distracted-pedestrian injuries are on the rise. Smart phones, dumb people.
The great thing about slapstick is that even when you know it’s coming, it’s still kinda funny. When you see someone hurt themselves those little mirror neurons in your brain fire and scream, “OMG, THAT COULD HAVE BEEN YOU! TICKLE TICKLE!” Slapstick seemed like an easy way to make this point and fit within our requirement of being done shooting by lunch.
We shot everything on steadicam. Well, a janky old Glidecam V8 actually. Camera movement was important for the “pole reveal” moment and was obvious for the other walking shots. For the pole I got some 1″ pipe insulator from Ace Hardware and spray painted it silver. This made it easier possible for our actor (Adam) to give the pole a good whack with his face. In his spare time, Adam drops massive waterfalls in his kayak so walking into a pole foamie was a no brainer for him (or maybe that’s the other way around, haha).
We were shooting geurilla style and didn’t have resources to support the army that comes along with massive HMI lighting. So a few days before the shoot, I wandered around the city looking for places where the sun bounced off glass high-rises and made pools of light along the sidewalk. Found one. Bingo. 18k of beautiful, diffused-but-sharp key light. I’m seriously obsessed with this kind of city light now. It happens all throughout the day here in downtown Portland. Only challenge is you have to shoot your scene before sun moves on and drags your light with it. And it moves pretty fast in the summer.
For the filmmaker, the moral of this story is: shoot MORE of the stuff you want to get hired for. I want to shoot more commercials like this and now instead of telling an agency what I can do, I can SHOW them. Show, don’t tell. The end. Thanks for watching/reading.
(Also thanks to Isaac Koval, and Liam Gillies for helping out, Adam Chechire Edwards for face smashing, Matt Jeppsen the DP, and Andy Askren and Kallie Baker for their brainstorming. )