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 cobbled together an impressively professional 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, finally putting together 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). Good thing too, since Kodak went belly up a few months later.
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.