I just finished filming a really fun commercial, “Follow the Green Bunny” this past weekend for an eclectic hat brand, Green Bunny Hats. What I especially loved about it is the level of detail we were able to get from every aspect of the shoot.
Here’s what we did:
AS THE DIRECTOR
The whole concept of this story is that we have a variety of punk (Steampunk, Rococo punk, Diesel Punk, Victorian Punk, 1920s Punk, Clown Punk, and Goth Punk). Each couple represented a different sect. And they were all invited to this gathering, not knowing what exactly this gathering was. At the beginning, everyone is distrustful of the other districts for one reason or another. Of course, as we watch them, they all are missing a valuable piece of their costume: their hats! With everyone having arrived, the Green Bunny Hatter makes her appearance, using her magic to bestow individual hats to all of them. By the end of it, everyone’s mood has changed for the better.
To show all of these changes, I gave each couple their own backstory. Who they were, why they were there, etc. What was really great was how the actors took that and ran with it, even offering up suggestions their own. That told me that they got it and really bought into the backstory and the direction I gave them.
I wanted to keep their blocking simple for 2 reasons: first, the location was tight, so that kept the shots clean. And second, because the Bunny character was quirky and a focal point, she needed to have the most movement.
So, for the Bunny, I gave her simple direction: bestow each hat like a magical hat fairy and make each bestowal unique. With a few minor tweaks as we progressed, the Bunny got it, often nailing it in 1 or 2 takes.
As for my vision for the look of this spot, it was important that we achieved a dreamy kind of feel. These hats were very unique and hyper-realistic, so we needed to communicate that we were in a different place and time than we are naturally.
AS THE CINEMATOGRAPHER
Communicating my vision in the camera work required a few things right off the bat: smooth camera work, subtle but powerful lighting choices, and of course slow motion.
For the camera work, we mounted the Scarlet-W on the DJI Ronin (Gen. 1). Every shot had a little bit of movement, whether we were following a character throughout the scene (ex: The Bunny descending the stairwell) or just moving in closer as a change happened (ex: the Goth Punk smiling a bit after he got his hat). Because of the dreamy feel we were going for, everything had to be fluid and smooth. We didn't want to draw any attention to the camera.
For the lighting, the room was pretty well lit naturally, but it was raining out, so I wanted to enhance it a bit and make it warmer and more inviting. After all, this gathering was meant to bring people closer together by wearing these hats. So, using a couple of 650w fresnels from ARRI (thank you First Unit Productions), we set our lights around the room to mimic sunlight blasting through the windows. We threw some opal in front of the light source to soften it a bit, but I wanted to play with the semi-harsh lines. What was really cool (and probably my favorite set of shots) was on the goth punk team. They were in the shadows with a little bit of a kicker kissing their faces.
Same with the dining room scene. We had these large windows to play with, so we put some light through there, creating these really cool shafts of light that really contrasted the costumes and set dressing. Because we left the light rather hard and the shadows long, it looked like sunset was peeking into our room. So cool.
To make this dreamy and hyper-realistic, we over cranked a bit to 39.98 fps (project base 23.98). It was just slow enough to feel dreamy, but fast enough to not take too long to culminate a shot. This also gives us a few options in post to ramp up and down a bit, playing with our time. The way I composed it, the Bunny will look like she's just appearing randomly with these hats and then disappearing/reappearing somewhere else. Having the extra frames in these over cranked shots will give us some freedom in post.
All in all, I'm really jazzed with how this project turned out. I had a rockstar team that helped get this where you see it here.