By: Adam Moorman, Director
I’ve been making videos for just over 10 years and as you can imagine, I’ve seen lots of challenges. Those challenges are, in a way, the reason I make videos. You can’t beat the feeling of accomplishment after wrapping a shoot – it’s a truly satisfying moment – and all the challenges are the means to that end. Plus, with every challenge, I’ve learned something – and taken those lessons learned into my next shoot.
As a young video dude, I felt it was important to dabble in as many types of production possible and I made it a point to try to understand the business aspect and workflow of each specific field of production. My thought was if I put in the reps, my career would slowly flourish.
During those early years and during every challenge, I’d wonder if I’d ever get to see my name in the credits, work with a big budget or have full creative freedom. I’d think about this while loading all of my gear into a third floor office during a snowstorm at 5 a.m. by myself because I was barely making enough to pay for the gas I put into my car to drive three hours to get to the location.
Fast-forward ten years – I just directed my first national commercial spot. 23 year old Adam would never have imagined driving around a track at 70mph in a minivan, back and sliding doors open with a camera/camera team strapped in tightly shooting the NASCAR 6 inches off our bumper. If we didn’t hit the bank at 50 mph, the van would’ve tipped over. It was so loud and so fun!
We received a call on a Wednesday from our partner, JMI, letting us know that we’d be making a :30 spot for Hisense Television, with the plan to shoot it the following Sunday and Monday, a mere four days later. Once we collectively stopped panicking while jumping for joy, we got to work. The shoot was in Charlotte, so we had to book and schedule local crew, gear and lodging. I had to get a storyboard approved within two days and we needed to make sure we could communicate all of this across three different time zones in three different continents. I didn’t stop working on pre-production until I checked into my hotel hours before the shoot. The pre-production work on this spot alone made the challenges of the past ten years seem like a piece of cake – but in the best way possible.
This script had callouts for pyro, confetti canons, aerial photography and chase car scenes, which are all awesome on their own – but combined are equally exciting and tough to coordinate. The fact that we had a total of six hours to shoot everything, including studio time with the TV for beauty shots, was the most frightening production challenge I’ve faced. I don’t think I saw a kitchen or bathroom the entire time. We had two three-hour periods split between two nights. The script called for a nighttime exterior; sunset was at 8:00 p.m. and the track had an 11:00 p.m. noise curfew.
We started at Hammerhead Studios to shoot the beauty shots of the 4K Hisense TV. This was a perfect location to break the ice with the crew and get to know everyone. We wrapped and headed to a rainy Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCARs have slick tires, so if any moisture is on the track, the car is going to spin out of control so we couldn’t shoot that night. he NASCAR team told me there wouldn’t be any driving that night. This was a significant challenge because it cut our already-not-enough shooting time in half.
I didn’t have time to dwell; I just got to work. I re-created my shot list and we banged out every insert shot, establishing shot and burnout shot possible. I had to convince the car crew to let us do the burnout stuff. (Tip of the trade – if you want to create smoke from tires burning out, pour bleach under the back tires and let it rip!)
The second night was a complete scramble. We timed out and marked two shots where we launched 500 feet of fireworks as the car zipped by. We also had to rig the camera to the car for some coverage of the driver. Finally, we had to organize and rehearse the final confetti shot as well as shoot the chase car stuff. I won’t drag you through that process, more for my sake than yours, because while it was fun and exciting, I never want to do it again.
My takeaway from this project? The challenges I faced were only conquered because of the reps I’ve put in over the years. I’d like to think that the 5:00 a.m. shoots I did alone were the catalyst behind the success of this project. I’m still getting up at 5:00 a.m. to shoot videos that aren’t national spots or located on a NASCAR track – not only because I get to make something cool, but because I will learn something that might bail me out of a snafu in the future.
Ultimately, this looks like a commercial because of a fantastic crew and fantastic team at GBP, who have put in similar reps in their careers. 23-year-old Adam would be proud of the work we have accomplished and the work we will continue to do.