That’s a Wrap.

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Shooting is over, and I’m returning home on a re-branded and equally old turbo prop airplane. The rest of time spent in Vancouver didn’t lose it’s luster, even though technically I was working 12 hours days. But those hours are often in a weird mix of discovery and luxury. There are numerous little new details to notice in the complicated and well-organzied machine of TV production. Behind the scenes, an army of people are making things happen: directors, assistant directors, producers, assistants, gaffers, grips, PA, production company mystery people, craft service, snack tray minglers, stylists, makeup artists, DPs, motion control camera operators, set dressers, and other people of unknown function. It’s easy to see why TV budges are high.

For a creative on the agency side, this team makes the idea come to life largely without intervention. By the time I arrive, almost all of the big stuff is figured out: the walls are built, the shots are planned, the talent is almost picked. While the creative battles to keeping an idea from getting pecked to death, if it makes it through to production it’s pretty smooth sailing. Everything is so automatic, that it’s often only necessary to chime in if something is particularly out of place or going to rile the client. Beyond that, it’s just sitting back, surfing the internet, eating free food, and watching everyone else work their magic.

The relationship of this group of people transcends into real friendship much like it did for the print shoot in LA. The director is a kindred spirit in his innocent childlike curiosity to advertising and life outside. Francios Vogel, known best for Picture Book (show below)

and other commercials for HP, is in continual discovery and play with the world. During the trip, he continually looked for fodder for more short films, even building a convex mirror on a taped together ironing board and closet rod to stick out his window for filming himself from outside. It’s encouraging to see someone much older that can hang on to these qualities in face of all the ways the world tries to squelch them.

Everyone from his production company has a worldly charm, in part because they’ve seen the world. The owner is a giant German and great conversationalist. He’s a modern day Renaissance man, able to fly a plane, cook, speak 3 languages fluently, run a company, take up the bagpipes, all while being a lecturer with a PHD in acoustic engineering. The director was French, and his producer was a french transplant. After a few dinners and walks together, I feel a little sad to say goodbye to everyone. But much like with family, I cushion such feelings with knowing I’ll see them again.

A few photos from the last couple days.

Stage 1.

The fake living room corner for agency and client.

Fake door and hallway.

The sound stage from the frighteningly high catwalk.

Adjusting a light with diffusing screens in the background.

Tim Horton’s sucky muffins

Serious discussion about a pillow.

Director and actor outside.

Director and actor inside.

The complicated filming setup.

The motion control camera movements are programmed in an application running with good ol’ Microsoft DOS.

The motion control camera in action. It’s a little creepy.

Set testicles.

Alfred Hitchcock

One of the amazing Vietnamese dishes I ate. In this case, a cold chicken and cabbage salad.

Costco entrance under the highway in dowtown.

The creative team clockwise: producer, director, writer, me.

Today I made my kitchen into more of a forest, courtesy of a photo mural. Potted plants coming next.

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