On the 19th of April I received an invitation to take part in a con call with BBH Shanghai for an up coming Minute Maid Commercial. After a quick round of discussions with both key creatives Kelly Pon and Production Producer Geok Lem, I headed for Hong Kong!
Minute Maid is China’s biggest selling Orange Juice and is one of Coca Cola’s line of products. Their current campaign had featured Eason Chan and this TVC was going to continue that tradition. Eason is extremely well known all over the world and has a large following in Asia and many Western Countries including Australia, England etc. He grew up in the UK so not only was he easy to work with but he had a larrikin sense of humour as well!
With very little preproduction time, we scoured Hong Kong for locations, eventually arriving at a spot near Clear Water Bay. A couple of days later we began production, filming the TVC with the REDOne camera. My Cinematographer was a guy I had worked with before – Atong had participated on one of my Canon TVC’s with Daniel Wu a couple of years before. This time he was in charge of all things photographic while I concentrated on Directing.
The shoot schedule was spread over two days with all of Eason’s involvement concentrated on one day. Additionally, we had a second cast member. Her name was Ella Chen – A Taiwanese pop star from a band called S.H.E! Luckily Ella was available both days so we could overlap Eason and Ella on screen. But there were a few shots we had to use doubles!
CD Kelly Pon and Writer Jay Qian were great to work with, as were the rest of the BBH team! BBH TV Producer Bernice Wong kept things on track and coordinated a very tricky production and post production process. My Producer Geok Lem, was also coordinating a large Hong Kong crew, Australian Director, South African Post house, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Chinese and the list goes on! Our Client, Craig is American but had lived in Japan so it was fair to say that this was a multinational production!
Key to the process was Post House Black Ginger from Cape Town South Africa. VFX Producer and part owner of Black Ginger, Marc Bloch, flew to join us in Hong Kong for the shoot. He was terrific to work with and Kelly, myself and Marc would talk endlessly about the job, photography and other cool stuff! Definitely had fun with those guys!
The first day of the shoot went well but we did have rain and sun in the same day. That made life tricky for the grade. Eason and Ella were fun to work with and I had great time wrangling their performances and eyeline’s towards mythical “pulp” that would be added by the South African effects team later! Keeping people interested and focused is always a battle in a technical environment such as this but like troupers, they pulled through with the goods! The Hong Kong crew worked tirelessly to provide all the necessary art direction, set dressings and construction. The location looked amazing after they removed rubbish, high grass, trees, and planted a white picket fence, bushes and fresh green grass along the roadside. They had to build a bus shelter to help remove an ugly council waist disposal area! This was all done overnight due to the quickness of the production! When it started to rain, the Hong Kong team ordered a tanker to conduct “wet downs” for the remaining part of the shoot so that we could maintain continuity. While that slowed production down a bit, I think that the wet downs really helped the look of the Commercial.
The second day of the shoot was with Ella only. She was truly fantastic to work with. Very helpful, super nice! We shot all the wide shots of her, the car approaching and all her closeups on that day. Occasionally we had to resort to using a body double for Eason but I tried to do that sparingly. The day ended up being sunny with a bright blue sky, which was a bit unfortunate for continuity. However, we ended the shoot very positively and headed into town for celebrations.
Flying to Shanghai, China, we continued the Post Production there. Firstly was Offline at the Production House. My editor, Kathrin Schmoll ( known as Schmolly to her friends), was flown in from Germany by Kjell Kunde, EP of Tribe! She was great & we cut several options for the 30sec & a 15sec variants. I can say that Schmolly is truly a great editor and anyone lucky enough to work with her will discover this.
2 days later, we presented the Offline edits to Client on the 28th at BBH Shanghai. That went very well. The life of a freelancer is sometimes complex! I also had to cope with a Skype con call with Jakarta & Singapore for my Nippon Paint TVC “Vinilex” at the same time!! That went for 2 hours but ended with a very good result also! So I was on a high!
On the 29th, I got up early & walked around the Bund in Shanghai City! Then on to post at the Post Production Office (PO) where Colourist Kit (from Hong Kong) graded the DPX’s using Baselight. After the grade, we went to a Night Market & the Hyatt where I shot some night vistas of Shanghai! I had some time to play tourist for a few days before heading home to Australia briefly. The next stage to this saga was a long flight to Cape Town South Africa. I’ll leave that for another Blog entry soon!