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).

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".