P&G "Everyday Effect"

I really enjoyed making this one.

It started a number of months ago when my new friends over at the Grey Group came to me with a very thoughtful, anthemic P&G script. As (Creative Director) Denise O'Bleness explained, the idea was to focus not on any one household product but on the overall impact these "everyday" items have on the quality of people's lives. They called it the "Everyday Effect" and wanted it to be beautiful, lyrical and real.

Some stock footage had already been sourced but when Denise began referencing Malick's Tree of Life, I started salivating at the thought of creating equally lush, naturally beautiful images. Sorry, Terrance, we cribbed you!

Supported by Denise's formidable agency producers, Todd Scheifele and Nina Roussarie, a plan began to coalesce. Together with my trusted line-producer, Jason Haymond, we assembled our team and honed in on our NJ based locations.

I was pleased to bring onboard the incredibly talented cinematographer, Andrij Parekh, who I'd been meaning to collaborate with ever since he shot my buddy John Krokidas' short film, Slo-Mo, about a hundred years ago. Working with true anamorphic primes at 48fps on an Alexa, I was not disappointed.

The images were made even more beautiful with the help of our production designer, Tyndall Arrasmith, who went above and beyond to create the right look, going so far as to build a fake nursery to get those dormers "just so".

After three days of shooting, we wrapped in the beautiful, if politically misguided, Woman's National Republican Club where ethereal floor-to-ceiling windows silhouetted a touching scene of ballet mentorship.

The shoot was invigorating, the piece turned out beautifully and I'm grateful for my new friends. I'm a fortunate man.

NFL Hall of Famers

When the good folks over at Digitas asked me to tell the stories of 20 NFL Hall Of Famers for GMC, I was honored but didn't have the heart to tell them I wasn't a football guy and didn't know any of their illustrious names.

Turns out, it didn't matter.  All 20 Hall Of Famers were generous and friendly with their time, totally unfazed by their sports legend status.  They each told unaffected and personal stories of overcoming obstacles in their lives and I was moved time and time again.

My favorite story came from Steve Tasker - special teams hero for the Buffalo Bills.  Steve is well-beloved by many a football fan and, after hearing his eloquent, witty and riveting story, I began to understand why.

I worked on this series of films (slated to air as part of GMC's "Never Say Never" campaign during the NFL season) with the expert editor, Gerald Zecker, the freakishly talented illustrator, Chris Mauch and the inventive and patient animator, Adrian Letechipia.  Post-producer Bridgette Spalding kept our little ship afloat as Anna Prebula and Marc Gottesman from Digitas kept us focused on the bigger picture.

By the end of our journey, I was transformed from an indifferent football philistine into a gridiron guru.  Alright, maybe not.  But at least I now know how to catch a long bomb (in the end zone).

live out loud

Living in NYC likely shelters me from the continuing difficulties LGBT people face in wider society: discrimination, ostracism, misunderstanding.  Especially for teenagers.

Which is why I was happy to participate in this series of PSA's for Live Out Loud.  "The Homecoming Project" picks up where their previous effort, "It Gets Better," leaves off, encouraging established members of the community to reach out and mentor LGBT teens.

Working again with the good folks at Deutsch (fearlessly led by Richard Kolopeaua and ably produced by Cheryl Masaitis), we cast real people whose coming out stories exemplified the courage and range of experiences of this community.

With cinematography phenom Alex Disenhof, art director Stockton Hall, and producer Dana Discordia, we shot quickly over one day in the Rudolph Steiner school on the UES, teasing out these four moving, personal stories.

The campaign was edited by Patrick Burns Jr. and colored at The Mill.

Fall In Love...

This poetic melodrama has an unlikely origin story.  It all started a year ago when I was approached by Robert Arnold, a young cinematographer in his last year of AFI.

"I like your work," he said, " and I need to build my reel.  If I pull together the production, will you direct a spec spot for me to shoot?  Do you have a script or any ideas?"

"Well, sure," I said, "plenty.  How do you feel about opera?"

Robert wanted to shoot an auto spot but, knowing we'd never have the resources to shoot slick sheet-metal shots, I decided we'd best just tell a good story - with the car at the center.  I'd had an image in my head for a while of a couple arguing and furiously racing away in their car, all set to frantic opera music.

"Wouldn't it be funny," I thought to myself, "if we think he's missing his girl but really, he just misses the car she took from him?"  Once committing to a more European style commercial, I hashed out the full story and we got to work.

Robert was as good as his word and, with the help of two young producers (Patrick Christl and Kathryn Henderson), they pulled together an impressive production in the suburbs of Chicago with just a buck and a dream.

Meanwhile, knowing how dependent on music this film would be, I researched operatic scores with director Courtney Selan to create this mashup of Verdi, Puccini and Tchaikovsky.

A few years back, my Scope spot won the Young Director Award at Cannes which came with a prize of 3000' of 35mm Kodak film.  All that film had been burning a hole in my pocket ever since so I leapt at the change to shoot this no-budget spec on the best visual medium ever created (sorry digital).

After two days in the sun and rain, exposing the very last bit of daylight onto our very last roll of film and trying everyone's patience and generosity in the process, we walked away with some beautiful footage.  But would it cut…?

Working nights and weekends with the patient and practiced editors, Vriana Bohling and Megan Brennan, we pieced together a fast-paced edit retaining the story's odd, emotional core without any of the fat.  Expertly colored at Optimus in Chicago, the spot was polished off with a sound design by T. Terressa Tate and music mix by Jim Morgan.

Mizuno Mezamashii

It wasn't until my second call with Mckinney's superstar creative team, Will Dean and Robyn Gunn, that I realized this was a special project.

"What?" I said, thinking I'd heard them wrong.  "Did you just say you want this film to be 'dark and arty'?"  What commercial agency talks like that?

"Yep," they confirmed, "this is all about a feeling."

A month prior, the very talented DP, Thomas Scott Stanton and I designed a special running camera rig with Gary from Doggicam Systems.  Attached to the runner's body, the rig extends the lens down and behind the runner's feet resulting in dynamic, kinetic images of legs pumping through rapidly changing environments with the runner remaining frame-registered in the center.

McKinney saw this unique footage and loved it.  Their goal for Mizuno's first running commercial was to communicate the feeling of the "perfect run" - that euphoric, transcendent high when your legs feel they could run forever and your mind is in a deep state of calm focus.  They called this feeling "Mezamashi" and wanted to represent it in an innovative way.

"Dark and arty," I said, "I can do that."

So our humble team got to work, pulling together a crew to travel to Atlanta where we would capture this "dark and arty" film.  Starting with the eccentric and capable producer Janice Biggs and the up-and-coming cinematography star, Alex Disenhof, we rounded out our motley crew in the ATL with veteran AD, Kimberly Daniels (who I was thrilled to reunite with having successfully worked with her 4 years ago on my ASAS project).

Given the meditative, almost zen-like nature of the final piece, the overall composition had to live mostly in our minds while we shot, making clear collaboration critical.  Fortunately, Will and Robyn (ably facilitated by Naomi Newman and Brian Fox, the most enthusiastic agency producing team I've ever met) became real creative partners and true friends over the course of the project.

Though the days were grueling (including a midnight-oil table-top shoot in my hotel room at 4am), the footage made it all worthwhile.

Once home, I teamed with often opinionated and often right editor Eric Wais and was given the unprecedented luxury of time and trust to assemble our cut.  Combining our running footage with some candid interviews with Mizuno execs (who love to run), we also cut together a couple mini-docs to help explain the concept of "Mezamashii".