Where the WunderTRE(k) Took Us
If I’m not mistaken, this WunderTRE(k) Brandfomercial had more locations involved than any other single project we’ve done. In this blog, we’re going to talk about the locations and some of the challenges we overcame with each one. It’s going to be VERY EXCITING so you should read it all and comment at the end!
The Englishman’s Fireplace
The Fireplace location nearly ate our lunch. Jana, if you’re reading this, please keep reading! Let me rephrase, FINDING the fireplace location nearly ate our lunch. It was the center point for the entire ad and we were going to be up a creek without a paddle if we didn’t get one locked down. We were searching frantically, posting all over facebook and instagram looking for a good local Lubbock location we could pretty much take over for an entire day. Ross and I were asking pretty much everyone we knew including family, friends, real estate agents, business folks, to the point where I nearly just started knocking doors and talking to strangers. To be clear, I’m introverted so that thought makes me vomit a little. We brought Coby in to do his screen test for WunderTRE(k) and afterward I showed him a sample photo of the fireplace we wanted and he said “Oh, that’s my aunt’s house.” Now, he didn’t mean the reference photo, but he assured us that this was the motif of their living room where they had the fire place. He asked his aunt, Jana, and she happily obliged us.
Why is it such a big deal?
It may not sound like a huge deal to you, but let me give you some context. The shoot day we had planned for was on New Year Eve, and according to Coby, New Years Day is when they were going to have their BIG family Christmas at Aunt Jana’s House. So the fact that she agreed to let us pretty much rearrange her entire living room for this shoot the day before she’s supposed to have a TON of company, that was HUGE for us. We can’t ever thank her enough for that. We saw the location and it was perfect. We loaded in and shot for pretty much the entire day. Jana wasn’t there for most of it because she had a lot to take care of before guests arrive. Late in the day, we had knocked out one of our first setup: Wide shot of Coby in front of the fireplace. We had just swapped lenses to go for the close up when Jana came in from the garage. At this point (about 3:30pm), I don’t think she realized how long these things take, which is understandable!
Introducing “The Catch”
No one really knows until they spent a day or at least and hour on set. Very sweetly, she mentioned to us that she totally forgot she was going to have guests at about 7:00 that evening for dinner. In true, West Texas fashion, she was going to cook a meal for the guests (which smelled AMAZING). She told us she didn’t want to rush us but she HAD to get things going for this and the kitchen was essentially just off camera. Jana asked if she could make noise in the kitchen until we started to roll then she would take a break. Luckily these were all short takes, so she honestly accomplished more in the time we had to share the space than we did. We made the best of our time and wrapped out of the location by about 5:30 or 6:00 if I remember correctly. It was a hectic day, so don’t quote me on that. Either way, this location was PERFECT and we really owe it to Jana for letting us come into her home, kinda destroy the living room (nothing was broken, but lots was rearranged), and shoot the most essential parts of the WunderTRE(k) ad.
Have I mentioned that filmmaking is like 10% creativity and 90% problem solving? Well, if I haven’t, now you know. Every location was integral, and the track scene was no different. We called around a LOT to a lot of different places to see if we could get onto a track and field track. Not much luck, because everyone who had keys to unlock them were OUT OF TOWN FOR THE HOLIDAY. Oh, right, we shot this ad over Christmas Break because our lead talent, Coby, is a high school senior. That was going to be the last opportunity we could have him for an extended amount of time. We rushed a lot on this project because of that very fact. We scouted several different tracks that looked pretty awesome from outside the fence, but we couldn’t get inside. What’s worse is that we EVEN HAD PERMISSION TO SHOOT, but like I said, all the keys were out of town. We managed to find a practice track which was public access and didn’t require any keys to get onto. This changed from our initial plan, but honestly, you’ve seen the result and it was a much better outcome than we could have predicted.
A Little Side Note
Most projects are shot out of order, meaning that we have to utilize locations when we can get to them, so we don’t necessarily get to shoot ads chronologically like they come out in the edit. The WunderTRACK was actually our very first location on the entire shoot. It presented to be a little lackluster to us at first and disheartened us a little. The scene was shot and we managed to make the best of it, which turned out hilarious.
The Magician’s Theater – Where Your Money Disappears
We had a loose plan for the location of the Magician that makes your money disappear. Our grandfather has been a magician for the last 50 years by our account. Every Christmas Eve the family has an Annual Talent Show and Pappy (our grandpa) always topped it off with a magic show. These were pivotal moments in our childhood. Initially, we planned on using his magician’s backdrop for the magician, but wound up altering the script when we ran across a royalty free still photo of the Victorian style theatre you see in the ad.
Can We Pull This Off?
Ross and I looked at each other and asked, “Can we pull off this green screen?” The answer was yes. We threw the original idea out the window and committed to this. Who doesn’t love a Green Screen? We’ve found in recent years that non-film people find green screens as some sort of magical bandaid to things. You can ask any amateur and even a few professionals, it IS NOT our first choice, usually. We’ll get more into the lighting in the lighting blog. The location wound up being our parent’s house (which we utilize all the time and can’t thank them enough for letting us take over their home). Since this was our first shoot day, we actually spent the morning constructing the green screen and getting it lit for shooting later that day. We got it assembled and the crew began to arrive for the track scene. We shot out the track scene and came back to get the house where we dialed in our theatrical lighting for the Magician’s Theatre.
Screen With Envy
The location didn’t provide a lot of challenge inherently. We’ve shot in this living room more times than we can count. The challenge on this location was actually the magicians table. We started with the tight shot you see in the brandfomercial and in this shot we just had some hard plastic tubs to set the magician’s table on. This executed exactly what we needed. The problem came in that the wide shot, we wanted the table to be suspended in mid-air to match the height of the table in the previous shot. We went through several different ideas before we landed on strapping the table to an American Grip Dana Dolly Stand with zip ties and then cleaning the stand out in post. Besides that small hiccup, we the location was GREAT and provided exactly what we needed!
We’ve decided to break up the locations across three blogs due to the nature of all the information packed into each location. If you’d like to keep up with them as they come out, we suggest that you head over to our facebook and instagram, like and follow us, then turn on your post notifications. That way you’re alerted as soon as the content comes out! If you just want to read them all at once after they’ve released, you can sign up for our “Key Frames” Newsletter below!