On January 22nd, we began the production of the Canon “Grass Ski” Television Commercial, at the foothills of Mt Hutt, New Zealand. While I did blogabout the trip I couldn’t go into any details at the time. Shooting Gallery Asia had flown us all to New Zealand the day before. A quick location survey, a meeting with the property owner, farmer Ben and we were off! Situated at the foothills of Mt Hutt, the landscape surrounding us was unbelievable beautiful. The last traces of snow/ice were still present in the shadowy areas of the mountains. In the foreground, we had selected a green paddock to serve as the site for our “Grass Tobogganing” location. Local Kiwi Cinematographer and part time line producer, Rolland Carati organised the location in conjunction with Freddie Kee. The farmer had also made available an ATV (4×4 bike) and a farmhand named Collin. Collin was absolutely fantastic assistance and pretty much acted as the Grip on the shoot. I think he really enjoyed himself during the course of the shoot, driving the ATV and a 4×4 Ute for us.
Traveling from Singapore was Freddie Kee, Leollyne Teng, Sham – Stills, Raman – props, Eiren the focus puller and the Client/Agency team. I had been in Singapore the day before also for the final preproduction but had flown home to Melbourne for the day before landing in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was a lot of flying! The Cast were all from New Zealand and consisted of Japanese Immigrants to New Zealand. They were great I have to say. The beginning of the shoot day was not good for weather. The sky was completely blanketed in high level cloud. It looked dire and while I tried to remain optimistic about our chances, it didn’t look good. The Cast entertained themselves and we waited! During this time, we tested the Toboggan’s and the ATV Camera rig. Suddenly by midday, the Sun revealed itself.
Shooting began in ernest. Using Shooting Galleries Arri III, we shot all the components needed for post involving the Toboggan race in profile first. This meant that the poor crew, Raman and Freddie had to run up and down the mountainside many times assisting the Toboggan’s with towropes! After several takes, Rolland and Collin took over as Freddie and Raman collapsed in exhaustion. Where possible, we changed to the ATV, using it to pull the toboggan’s down the hill in a controlled manner. The rig that Raman had built on the back was fantastic and allowed me to achieve a very low angle shot from the front of the Tobogganer’s.
After a big day that ended with us all roasting in 32 degrees C in the Sun, we filmed the final shots. These were originally scheduled as Morning silhouette shots but through fate became stunning end of day shots looking out over the valley. The scene really looks magical. Overnighting in Methven, a ski tourist town about 20 minutes away from the farm, the crew, shattered and exhausted from running up and down the hills all day, enjoyed a quite dinner. The next day the Singaporean crew flew back home for Chinese New Year. I chose to stay on for a couple more days. A few days later, I flew from Melbourne Australia back to Singapore, where we began the offline. VHQ handled the post in Singapore and my Offline editor, Caryne put together a lovely edit that was fun to watch. Abishek Nair was VHQ’s post supervisor and handled the 3D and Online process beautifully. It’s to his credit for staying on top of all our demands and keeping the show on track because the TVC looks great! The Online editor Ian managed to remove wires and rigs, multiple cows, subtract Cows, while putting in clouds in the background etc. The Audio work was conducted at AMX Singapore and Engineer Mun Wai placed sound effects and music to help amplify the “Fun” aspect of the TVC. After a final presentation to the Agency and Client, it was time to say goodbye. They love it. The TVC is naive and fun. Hope you enjoy it also. Cheers