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Screen Magazine – Star Treatment

Screen Magazine – Star Treatment
April 1, 2007 brian

Star Treatment: St. Louis Production Team Makes The Most Of Its Three-Hour Shoot With Albert Pujols

Celebrities lead busy lives, especially when that celebrity is Albert Pujols, the best hitter in baseball and the face of the champion St. Louis Cardinals franchise. Even after an endorsement deal was finalized with the popular first baseman, there was precious little time to execute the campaign. The production team was given just three hours to shoot a pair of spots for the St. Louis Metro Ford Dealers Association.

“Leader” opens with shots of Pujols donning his Cardinals jersey, hat and batting gloves. A narrator compares the ballplayer’s hard work and dedication to that of Ford. After the narrator claims, over shots of various Ford vehicles, that “leadership isn’t given,” the spot cuts to a close-up of Pujols, who finishes the thought by telling viewers, “It’s earned.”

The second spot, “Garage,” opens with Pujols against a black background, holding a baseball bat. As the camera dollies out, the spot cuts between Pujols, game footage and road footage of the Ford F-150 Super Cab. The spot changes moods when Pujols’ wife turns the lights on to reveal her husband standing in the garage. After she tells him to hurry up and get to practice, the spot shows Pujols sitting in a Ford and muttering, “I thought my truck was tough.”

One requirement of the St. Louis Ford client was that a local production company be used for the shoot. Technisonic, a high-end production company, was tapped for the job and pulled out all the stops to execute within such a tight timeline. Executive Producer Ellen Legow says the production team planned for as many contingencies as possible, especially given the fact that Pujols was walking into the shoot cold.

One of the biggest challenges, says Legow, was finding a location to double as Pujols’ house in the “Garage” spot. Since “Leader” was slated to shoot at the Cardinals’ downtown Busch Stadium, the production team knew that it wouldn’t have time to travel to the suburbs to film in an appropriately large house. Fortunately, the team at Technisonic scouted locations, finally discovering a large house several minutes from the park that already served as a space for private parties.

Technisonic’s Tom Newcomb shot the spots using a Sony F900-R HDCAM Camcorder. He says time was not a huge factor on set because of the amount of pre-planning and the fact that the agency knew exactly what it wanted out of Pujols. The production team also utilized two crews and was able to concentrate on a limited number of set-ups. Each spot required only seven different shots, given the amount of car and game footage planned for each.

The time crunch continued after the shoot as a trio of Chicago companies worked to finish the spots in three days. While he admits to having less footage than normal, editor Jeff Schwartz of ki editorial+design says he never thought of this as an impediment. “As an editor you work with what you’ve got and make the best spot possible,” he says, adding that the inclusion of game footage gave him more options in the edit room.

Specifically, Schwartz says he chose game footage that would speak to Pujols’ leadership and that would be instantly recognizable to Cardinals fans. This included plenty of close-ups and quick edits, some of which lasted only 10 frames. Optimus’ Craig Leffel color-corrected the standard-issue game footage, giving it a gritty feel in contrast to the smooth footage of both Pujols and the Ford vehicles.

“GARAGE” –  “LEADER”

CLIENT: Ford, AGENCY: JWT (Detroit), EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Todd Chumley, CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Rob Kocher, ART DIRECTOR: Ryan Lee, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Kris Kulas, PRODUCER: Clint Gill, ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Bob Wilson, PRODUCTION COMPANY: Technisonic (St. Louis), DIRECTOR: Mike Sneden, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Ellen Legow, DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Tom Newcomb, LINE PRODUCER: Scott Knollenberg, EDITORIAL: ki editorial+design (Chicago), EDITOR: Jeff Schwartz, ANIMATION: Scott Norris, COLOR-CORRECTION: Optimus (Chicago), COLORIST: Craig Leffel, SOUND MIXING: BAM! Studios (Chicago), SOUND MIXER: Brian Reed