When we got the call from Tim Tadder to fly to Chicago to shoot a Walmart commercial, we were all in! We were so excited to pair up not only with the one and only Tim Tadder but also with a power line-up overseen by ad agency, Sachi & Sachi. This time around, we were working with some heavy-hitters you may have heard of: Procter & Gamble & The NFL. Jared Allen was our superstar alongside a surprised military family.
It all unfolded as we were dropped off curbside at Lindberg Field, San Diego International Airport on September 21st, 2014. Three of us were making the trek to Chicago with what looked to be the luggage for six! We hauled our pelican cases filled with camera gear across the airport unsure of how the worker behind the desk would take to us with so many bags to load. It’s hit or miss, either they love you or hate you. Today she loved us and checked us in with little trouble. Security was equally smooth and before we knew it we were high in the sky, off on another photo adventure.
After hours in the sky and what seemed like even longer to get a rental car and find our hotel, we finally arrived. When we walked into the Soho House, Chicago, we knew we were in for a treat. I’ll start off by telling you how gorgeous the hotel is with it’s dark, rich wood, velvet couches, and sparkling chandeliers. Looking around, everyone is a model. They hand us our key which is an actual key, with a keychain that weighs somewhere near ten pounds. It’s the kind of hotel where you leave the key with the help when you leave. Forget the key though, upon walking into our room, we were blown away! The Soho House in Chicago is the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in, and I’ve stayed a lot of places! If you ever find yourself in Chicago, stay at the Soho House!! Enough about the hotel, what about the pizza! After delicious Chicago craft beers and pizza on night one, it was time to get a good night’s sleep because the next day — we be scoutin. Morning came quick and the rain shower did not disappoint. We piled in our rented minivan and headed into Chicago’s suburbia to our shoot house. Our shoot house was on a quaint little neighborhood street that could have been anywhere in America. Since this was going to be a Holiday commercial, we needed the house to look the part. This was going to be easier said than done; the temperature outside was in the seventies with clear blue skies… The Propmasters didn’t agree, snow is typical for them, in fact the prop team (which included about 10 people) said this was their 20 something holiday commercial this year! We’d apparently called in the right people to make it snow! After a full day of decorating for Christmas and planning camera angles and shots, we felt confident that tomorrow would go just as planned. We ended the night as most San Diegans do, eating Mexican food (a fantastic idea in San Diego – and a terrible idea in Chicago) and watching our boy Jared play ball on the big screen. The Bears won that game, thank God, Jared would be a smiles in the morning!
Morning came even earlier on Tuesday than it had on Monday. Our shoot day was upon us! We arrived to the house to find snow! It looked like a magical winter wonderland..at least on our shoot house. I’m sure the rest of the neighborhood was wondering what was going on — holidays starting earlier and earlier every year; Halloween hasn’t even happened yet!! When our shoot family arrived, the boys had no idea that they were about to meet Jared Allen. In fact, they had only found out that morning that they were going to be in a national television commercial! Even crazier, they only found out the morning before that they were flying to Chicago! Their Mom and Dad sure did a great job at keeping a secret.
Our shoot day started with two teams, Kevin (since he’s the boss) got to go in the car and work alongside Jared and the mom on the driving shots while Charles Eck and myself stayed back at the house shooting the father and sons in the living room. We shot everything with 4 Canon 5D Mark3’s and prime lenses. Why 4 cameras with 3 shooters? We each had our own camera for handheld and tripod use plus a fourth camera built on the MoVI for the dynamic walking shots. We could have shot with 3 cameras, but having the extra one dedicated to the MoVI made change-overs quicker and easier, allowing for more shots throughout the day. We chose to shoot DSLR’s for their compact size and tight maneuverability.
When Jared walked in the house, it truly was a surprise for the boys. The reaction is real. They knew they were being filmed for a commercial but had no idea about our surprise guest! It was so much fun shooting the joy on these boys faces; I think the dad might have been even more excited than the kids!! Overall it was a long two days of prepping and pulling it off. All the hard work was so worth it. We were blessed to work with some of the best in the business. We have a new favorite producer that everybody should put on speed dial right now, Monica Zaffarano. Beyond our amazing cast and crew, we were honored to work with some of the biggest players in the advertising industry and couldn’t be happier with the results. As there always is with live-action, there are so many shots, so many takes, angles, and ideas. It was tough to edit a whole day with four cameras down to 30 seconds, so we made two! Special thanks to our amazing editor (and friend) Franck Deron. And big ups to our boys over at Jingle Punks for the music, you guys rule so hard! Now check out both of our directors’ cuts and let us know which is your favorite!
Even cooler than shooting this was watching it on national television! On it’s premier debut, it aired twice in one night, during Sunday night football. Pretty Epic! And to ice the cake, we even made The Holiday Season’s Most Effective Ads List!
Looking back on 2014, so many amazing opportunities crossed our paths. We are honored to have worked with so many talented and driven individuals this past year! We hope you had the happiest of holidays!! Here’s to an even bigger 2015!