Thursday, July 5, 2007

Collaboration part 2

One of the first big breaks I had as a TV commercial director was shooting a Windex commercial. It came about very fast- another director was supposed to do it, but I got the call on a Saturday morning and we shot the following Thursday. Casting was Monday and Tuesday, we built a set Tuesday and Wednesday and shot Thursday while the paint was still wet. We transferred film on Friday and it was cut and finished the following Tuesday.

It’s a spot many of you have seen. A man and a woman are cleaning windows, she is using Windex and the man is using “the other leading brand.” Her window gets so clean, the plant growing between them bends over to the cleaner window. Hilarity ensues and viewers race to the store to buy more Windex.

As a filmmaker and a film watcher I really like to believe what I see with my own eyes. I don’t really care for Special FX and in these days of green screen and computers it is very easy to create a new reality. So, when it came time to make the plant move, I wanted to make a real plant, really move. I didn’t want some sort of rigged animatronic plant. I had no idea how to do this (see the posts above about my lack of technical skills) but the beauty of working on a film set is that if you hire the right people, someone will be able to figure it out.

Enter Jeff Renfro, an otherwise unremarkable grip, gaffer, and handyman. After lots of discussion with the ad agency, the producer, Jim and anyone else with two cents, Jeff suggested the simplest of all solutions- fishing line. We strung two pieces of line to the plants, sat off camera and on cue gave it a tug and like magic the plant moved to the clean window. After about three takes Jeff added a change. He pulled the taller branch over first, waited a beat and then pulled the lower part towards him. When they added the music, it was just the right extra beat and chuckle the spot needed.

I would like to say it was great direction that made this happen, but the truth is it was, as always, a collaborative venture. We had worked with Jeff enough to know what he could do, and he was comfortable enough to come up with the simple solution while everyone around him was over thinking the problem. While just doing his job, he made me look good.

Thanks Jeff.



Theresa111 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Theresa111 said...

Hello Peter,

I am not sure if I have seen your commercial but it sounds like a good one.

It is so pleasant to read about what you do. Never would I consider filmmaking as a career for myself and it is so cool that we get to see the behind the scenes action. Believe me it is very interesting.

Oh. I wanted to let you know I put up one of my oil on canvas (photo of) paintings on my site. Should you care to take a peek.

Take care and until next time…Roll Em!