Shelved

Every so often, a filmmaker will work really hard on a video that is never released. So much $ spent, so much time invested and it can seem like a huge waste. The reasons can be anything: Client doesn't love the video, the Director shelves a passion project - unhappy with the work, client switches ad agencies or CEO kills the entire marketing campaign just prior to launch. Regardless, this can be a frustrating nightmare for all involved.

Frightmares - Fear Is Fun (2011) - Link to previously unreleased spot below.

Frightmares - Fear Is Fun (2011) - Link to previously unreleased spot below.

This is NOT a post to complain about an inevitable part of PROFESSIONAL filmmaking. This IS a post to discuss our creative process and our thoughts & reaction when this happened to us on a spot we were very proud of way back in 2011 called "Fear Is Fun".

As filmmakers we try our hardest to control as many variables as we can, but this is almost impossible: budget limitations, unexpected weather, last minute client requests -- we become very good at reacting to these wild card factors without negativity. But this can be very hard when a project get's shelved.

Look at any part of professional filmmaking:  Unless we financed the project, we are working FOR someone else servicing their goals. We do not have legal control of the property, script or say over the final cut. Often, we do not control the editorial or post production and almost never have any say in the placement and/or implementation.

As long as the client pays all the filmmakers a reasonable rate and unless the filmmaker's usage rights are addressed in the contract, the client deciding to shelve something should not elicit our public scorn or contempt as filmmakers. If you are worried, we strongly suggest adding in a line in your contract and/or deal memo covering how you and other filmmakers can use the footage and finished videos.

We are hired to come up with and/or execute an idea. The company, brand or client who writes the checks have many smart people making tough decisions around roll-out and implementation. And when something is shelved many professionals in those organizations are experiencing the same frustrations as the filmmakers. Marketing Directors, Brand Managers, the Writers at the agency who were super excited too. Everyone is doing the best they can with a tough situation and some will often be concerned about losing an account, relationship or even their job.

Shane Nelson, Bo Hakala & Rich Kronfeld filming "Red Carpet" Spot

Shane Nelson, Bo Hakala & Rich Kronfeld filming "Red Carpet" Spot

Although it's disappointing to have a piece of work you we are proud of just sitting idle on a hard drive, it's very important to remember that properly navigating this situation comes with the territory.  Our reaction as filmmakers interfacing both in person and on social media after a video gets shelved will define us as professionals. 

1. Do not pout or post anything negative to social media.

2. If it's not part of your agreement, or you don't own the rights, ask written permission to use the video on website or social media.

3. When explaining the tough situation to collaberators, remind them that it's frustrating for EVERYONE and they need to stay positive as an extesion of the production.

This happened to us recently. We produced a FANTASTIC commercial Directed by Dan Huiting featuring great agency writing, amazing special FX makeup by Oscar winner Crist Ballas, stylish cinematography by TJ Schwingle & the edits were pretty damn good too. The spots elicited laugher and many compliments from Agency, Client & those in our filmmaking network who we asked for notes on the rough cuts. However, we were informed that the spot would likely never traffic due to unforeseen circumstances out of everyone's control. 

We'd like to post the spot referenced above, simply to showcase the amazing work of so many great filmmakers and creatives and to give more insight, but that's not possible. I'd like to think we handled this situation in a way that we can be proud of but the whole process reminded me of another great commercial that was never released that WE CAN post highlighting the same scenario.

The year was 2011 and one of my favorite clients (Buck Hill) had just unveiled a new seasonal business endeavor meant to bolster their seasonal recreational offerings. Each fall a series of creepy haunted attractions called Frightmares would be set up at the base of the ski area. We had been hired to create an ultra low budget spot in year one (2010) and it was very well received allowing for a bigger budget in year 2.  

We set to work on ways to achieve the clients goals for year 2 pitching 6 unique concepts that would communicate the offerings and elicit the desired response from viewers on TV and social media platforms. 

The marketing lead loved several of the concepts, especially the "Red Carpet" & "Fear Is Fun" concepts but were only able to move ahead with the "Hector" spot which more closely matched the tried and true "see and say" ad format the marketing team had used in year one. 

Our pitch for this updated commercial matched that exact ask -- a feature benefit spot featuring the main character Hector Cromartie defiantly describing all the fun things to do and see over the course of the evening. The main idea to communicate was that Frightmares offers full night of fun, food and entertainment. We were happy to do this but typically these "see and say" spots do not elicit an emotional reaction that is linked to viewers taking action, but are good for keeping brands top of mind and simply making sure people know the core offering or value proposition of a new entity or business. i.e. Nike sells quality shoes. Our version would add in some fun humorous writing & visual flourishes and package it with dynamic design conscious motion graphics. 

We also pitched several spots that had WAY more production value and higher end concepts but were designed to elicit an emotional response. 

The Red Carpet spot also included much of this bullet point marketing info but in a less salesy way using an organic POV news video concept, complete with fun unexpected train-wreck ending. 

The final spot was a stylish high end slow motion spot expertly crafted by ultra talented writer Jon Nowak showing the value proposition that you could stay all night experiencing scare after scare and the fantastic tagline encapsulating this perfectly "Fear Is Fun."

The concept pitches were appreciated but unfortunately were cost prohibitive. A few days after the pitch session, we got a call saying that since the meeting, they client couldn't stop thinking about how great the concepts could be for business and after a breif negotiation decided to pull the trigger on all 3. 

We set to work with our legendary cinematographer friend Bo Hakala and the amazing producer Brian Stemmler planning out all the details of the shoot. A few weeks later the spots were shot and edited.

Reviewing the spots with the marketing team, they decided to traffic The see and say "Hector" spot and "Red Carpet" spot years 2 & 3 and save the "Fear is Fun" spot for a future campaign. 

The spots did well on TV and social media and later we were informed that the Red Carpet spot was used as a great example of advertising as art in one of the classes at world renowned art school MCAD.

The the following year, the business was sold to company in Texas and we were informed there was obviously no need for the "Fear is Fun" spot to air. We contacted the new owners hoping to sell them the ad but was unable to make a deal and this great little ad has sat dormant on a hard drive for 6 years.

We were certainly disappointed that the spot would never air, but intrinsically knew our role in supporting our clients decision. Because of our arrangement with the client, we could use the spot and footage in reels and pitch sessions or whatever and it's a perfect example the client needing to do what was best for their business.

So anyway, just in time for Halloween here is the previously unreleased "Fear Is Fun" commercial. 

Written By Jon Nowak / Produced by Brian Stemmler / Directed by Shane Nelson / Cinematography Bo Hakala / AC Nathan Armstrong / Gaffer Dave Underhill / Grip Matt Muegge  Hair & Makeup & Costumes by Desiree Forget & Frightmares / Sound by Conduit Sound  

The New Pornographers - High Ticket Attractions Music Video

By Shane Nelson

The process of making a music video is always a crazy ride... but as you may guess from the image below, this video was particularly insane. 

It all started when my long-time friend Dan Huiting reached out in mid December with a unique opportunity to possibly destroy a school as part of a music video. Dan's friend choreographer John Mark was involved with the Hopkins School Of Performing Arts and they had just purchased a new school and were planning a big renovation. Seemed like an awesome opportunity and I happily attached to the speculative project saying "..Even if we don't end up making a music video we should just go smash some stuff!".  Dan agreed.

(Story continued below the video)

Dan mentioned on another shoot we were doing that The New Pornographers were interested in his treatment and the wheels were in motion. A few weeks later, I got a sudden burst of texts from Dan saying that the shoot (which I thought was about 2 weeks out) had to be moved up because the school had changed the demolition day. The band was ready to pull the trigger but I couldn't respond right away because I was recording my Junkshow Cinema Podcast, but at about midnight, I texted back saying unfortunately I was already booked on an edit that Monday & likely Tuesday, but we quickly tried to figure out how Dan could still pull it off in the next 48 hours. I reached out to a ton of other producers and no one was available. About 2pm the next day I did my conference call for my other project and found out an early edit we had just submitted was approved... (which almost never happens). I quickly called Dan back and jumped back on the crazy train to Yorkville Sr. High School.

We had a ton of stuff to figure out and went to work on the master checklist of all the tasks and delegated everything. Thanks to our awesome collaberators, less than 24 hours later we were shooting. Everything was going along pretty smooth, but suddenly on the 1st night Dan started feeling sick. Several days of non-stop work and sleepless nights had taken it's toll and I ended up taking over the directing role, so so he could get some much needed rest. Dan had developed a detailed shot-list and we all went to work picking off shots and smashing up the science room. We were pretty far behind on the schedule so we decided to break off into 3 units so we could get catch up. The talent John Mark had cast were really fantastic and patient while we did take after take.

The next day Dan returned refreshed and we kept shooting in 3 different units. We knew we had to get caught up on our shooting schedule before the fire sequences with Brian Denny's stunt and fire team. We had created a process of "safe zones" so no one would get hurt or hit with any debris but still had some actors and crew slip and were fortunate no one got hurt. Later, during the sink smash our amazing Wardrobe Stylist Jessica Zerby (who was also cast to play one of the "Smoking Girls", was hit with a chunk of the sink while smashing it. My heart leapt into my mouth... but our awesome cinematographer TJ Schwingle quickly made sure she was ok, and thankfully she was! When things like this happen, I always feel really bad. I have had people get hurt while filming for our action sports movies and we always want to make it as safe as possible, but there are always risks when dealing with sports, stunts and of course fire. I felt like I was holding my breath though this entire shoot. The last 2 scenes with all the fire went off without a hitch thanks to the actors, John Mark and our safety and fire teams led by Harry Reynolds! I let out a huge sigh of relief when all the fires were finally out. All that was left to do now was clean up the 700 gallons of debris and silage we left in our wake. We know the number because we filled up an entire 660 Gallon Bagster.

Super proud of how this turned out, especially under the unique circumstances. Thanks to Dan for forging ahead in the face of adversity and pulling the trigger on such a short turn time. Thanks to the band for taking a chance on a once in a lifetime opportunity and thanks to all the amazing crew and talent listed in the youtube credits. We have a fun Behind The Scenes video coming out with more on this soon.  Super happy I was able to re-attach and make something so epic with my friends!

-Shane Nelson 

Update: Watch the Behind the scenes video!

Sound Unseen Film Festival

Sound Unseen combines two of our favorite things in one seriously cool package. 

Films are being shown November 11-15th at various locations. Check out their website for more information.

http://www.soundunseen.com/

We will be checking out the US premiere of a documentary about the RIOT GRRRL movement on November 15th at the Bryant Lake Bowl. See you there!


Mondo - Not your everyday prints

        I live with a graphic designer and so I get to see all sorts of interesting and cool prints. Many of the illustrations that he was fascinated with came from Mondotees.com.  The inspiration behind their illustrations usually arise from film or television shows. Some of my favorites came from their Batman 75th Anniversary Exhibition they had a little over a month ago.

        Their latest print was a homage to the christmas classic  'Home Alone'.   Check out these great pieces of art. See if you can find your favorite film. If you like them as much as I do and would like to own one stay on top of it. You'll need to make sure to keep a close eye on the site and possibly follow Mondo on twitter for updates on when new prints come available, as they sell faster than anything.  Either way, Mondo has a great archive to sift through.

http://mondotees.com/

-Nicholas LD Korokidas,  

Omni-Fusion Media Production

'Interstellar'- The battle between Science and Narrative.

 

     We just recently got to watch 'Interstellar' in theaters. I personally enjoyed the film very much and was quite impressed with those involved. Being a writer and a rather scientifically minded person myself, it got me thinking about the balancing act that is Science Fiction narrative.

      There has always been an interplay between Science and Narrative. This is especially exemplified in the medium of cinema. With Christopher Nolan's latest film 'Interstellar' we have a new subject to analyze this relationship.  I will try not to go into too much depth on Nolan's script as to not spoil anything. Instead I will pose several thoughts that you can chew on after the credits roll.

        The scripting of 'Interstellar' began with the desire of several scientists hoping to create a story that is as scientifically accurate that it can be.   From draft to draft the piece took form. Yet, was it sacrificing its' scientific footing for the sake of narrative? Yes and no. The more narratively minded the group became the more taxing it became to keep it within the realm of scientific/theoretical 'reality'.  


     This article from The New York Times goes into further detail on the process

'Interstellar': The Cinema of Physics

   The further we delve into the theoretical side of science and science fiction the more we bend the suspension of disbelief.  This may be due to the fact that the cutting edge of theoretical cosmic science is harder for the average to movie goer to follow without the full lead up. Without a full scientific lecture (that I wouldn't mind) beforehand it is rather hard to reach the sweet/fun ideas that Nolan plays with, quite liberally, within the generous 3 hour movie timeframe.  It isn't surprising he would have to skip a few steps for the sake of time and boredom of his audience. This may, sadly, cause more entertainment than sense.

     The question then becomes; is there a sweet spot between Science Fiction and Science Realism in Cinema?  Does it matter?   Scientific knowledge influences our ideas in Science Fiction and our viewing of Science Fiction media definitely influences our perceived knowledge of Science.  It may as well be that the two cannot be fully mixed or fully separated.

  Do you think that Interstellar found that balance or tipped the scale too far one way or another? 

Though I can get wrapped up in discussion an talk of theory beyond the film; I still think that the film stands among the best of the year and is definitely worth a watch. The visuals are impressive and the settings are immersive. Like several of Nolan's other films it definitely will make you think. Which, in my opinion, is never a bad thing.


-Nicholas Lee Demetrius Korokidas

Omni-Fusion Media Production