Sunday, January 24, 2010

What a crazy, awesome week

Well, my week started out pretty slow and boring and by 12:00 Monday I was wondering where I was going to hunt down my next job. The only thing that stresses me out about being a freelancer is not always knowing where that next job is going to come from. Anyway, there I am, sitting doing some admin and a few little jobs and suddenly the phone rings. And so the insanity began. It was a guy calling to ask if I could come to the Mount Nelson asap to have a meeting and take a brief from a director who is out from New York filming an ad in Cape Town. Off I rushed, not knowing what an experience I was in for.

The team turned out to be from a American based company called Identity, who had done ads for the likes of McDonalds, Oreos, Nike, iPod and Budweiser, just to name a few. I would be working with Pierluca De Carlo, the director, and, luckily for me at the time, I didn't realize what a huge name he was in the industry. I think I would have completely lost my nerve. A little later, when I did some research, I learnt that Luca has won a MTV award for best art director, directed music videos for the likes of Geri Halliwell, Julio Iglesias and John Mellencamp, done work for clients such as The New York Times, Chrysler, Cadillac, Pantene and L'Oreal and had celebrities such as Penelope Cruz, Natalie Portman, Beyonce, Eva Longoria and Diane Keaton star in his work. With all the big names I was a bit intimidated, but what a nice guy. He made me feel welcome and constantly praised me for the work I was doing.

The project I was hired to do was to design the branding for the interior of a yogurt shop that is being used in the ad for Kohl's, an American department store chain. I had a quick chat with Natalie, the wonderful production manager, and Rene, her great assistant, and then got the brief from Luca. The design needed to be something simple, that would immediately give you the feel of a yogurt shop, but that was also understated enough not to attract too much attention in the shot. I was pitching for the job against another designer and had to get first drafts to Natalie by 10pm (I got the brief at about 3pm). The deadline was pretty tight as shooting would take place on Saturday and everything had to be finished and printed before Friday.

Off I shot home to do my best. I worked like a demon and managed to get everything emailed on time. I was hoping I'd landed the job, but I would have to wait till the next morning. Tuesday Rene smsed me to say that I had nailed it and to welcome me on board. I was asked to meet everyone back at the hotel in the afternoon for a debrief and once Luca had explained what changes their client wanted made I went off to one of the suites the team was booked into and started working to get the new versions out by that evening. Everything ran pretty smoothly. The new versions went off to the client at about 9 that night and I dragged my tired self back home.

I must say, what these people do looks glamorous and extremely fun, but it's also a lot of hard work. I don't know if I could deal with the stress of coordinating a shoot like that. There are just so many people that you have to get organised and things you have to get done in such a short time. I really take my hats off to them.

Wednesday morning there was a few last minute changes to do before everything went to the printers, but things ran smoothly and it all got printed on time and installed into the location. I was so pleased because it's usually the rush jobs that can go totally wrong. Luca and the rest of the team were very pleased with the end results and I was invited to go and take some photos of the designs at the location on Saturday.

These are two renderings that we added my designs to so that the clients could see what the finished product would look like.

And these are the finished products. You can see them in the background behind all the cast, crew and equipment.

It was so much fun being on set. And if this is all the equipment and people it takes to shoot an ad I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like when filming a movie. This project was such a great experience and half the time it didn't feel real. I really hope I get to do something like this again soon.

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