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Shoot – Facebook Games

Posted in Shoots

Okay, so, day one. We’re up way early to be at the LA Times building and breakfast is ready. Nobody’s awake, except for the people behind the scenes who have put together everything to make the shoot possible. Bubble wrap on the walls, rugs on the ground, a well-oiled machine of grips and costumers – everyone running smoothly with a walkie earpiece in their ear.

…I need coffee.

Our Director, Jerry O’Flaherty, is working quickly – without caffeine, somehow. We got a camera crew all with different brands of facial hair, all of them wide eyed and energized. We got a makeup crew itemizing a ridiculous amount of powders and creams – all of which look like different shades of red to me. And I’m looking at my scrambled eggs, wondering how the spinach has managed to seep its greenness into the yellowness of its surroundings, thinking I need to go back to sleep… or maybe just a nap.

Creamed, sugared coffee hits my lips, and the adrenaline kicks in. We’re here to work. We’re here to put a Businessman in knee high hunting boots, and see his collection of dinosaur heads. We’re here for- wait, what?

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We’re shooting a series of commercials for Facebook Games, each of them featuring a casual gamer with a not-so-casual play style. This one is the Dino Hunter, a Businessman with a passion for the thrill of the hunt, and a collection of the most dangerous game of all: the dinosaur.

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Anyway, we walk into the set, and there’s the Businessman, facing the wall-high windows, staring longingly out at the streets of LA, reciting the lines of his script in a whisper. If it weren’t for the lighting crew working all around him, he may have been contemplating life itself. If it weren’t for the blue suit tucked into the black leather, knee-high boots it might have been a little more dramatic.

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We pull things together. Shoot. And watch the whole mess unfold easier than it should’ve. The well-oiled machine I mentioned earlier was quick and clean, and we moved from setup to setup without a hitch. And the sun behaved perfectly, too.

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After a long day, we grabbed dinner at an Irish pub and headed back to the Airbnb just in time to catch a set or two of the Australian Open, and pass right out.

BOOM, it’s day two and we’re walking into a house covered with blankets and corner covers on the walls. There’s a baby grand piano, covered by a quilted moving blanket. Prop guys in the back are breaking up Ikea tables with a sledge hammer and good, old fashioned elbow grease. …and there’s a guy in the kitchen dressed like a Medieval Warrior, leaning on an axe that comes up to his chest.

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It was glorious.

So, we start shooting and it becomes a challenge very quickly. Not because there were technical problems or arguments or anything, but because when a grown man gently butters a piece of toast with a 4-foot battle axe, it’s hard not to laugh. And Frank’s mics can pick up anything, so even a stifled giggle can ruin the take.

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One of the last shots in this one involved a dog – played by Baxter from the Anchorman films, which made the dog the most famous person on set. The takes weren’t working, and the poor Medieval Guy had to come out of the house eating toast about twenty five times. He went through a loaf of bread. As in ATE a loaf of bread. Directly after we had lunch.

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One more day of shooting and we’re inside a modern looking home, all of the original furniture shoved into a single room and replaced with our own. The whole house was coated with pastel colors, and there was three of every item. Three chairs, three vases, three light switches on the wall – on and on, to infinity.

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The art director had way too much fun on this one, and the team turned our commercial into a strangely beautiful moving piece of art.

Our actress comes out – pastelled to the nines, herself – and we set up the shot. And we tweak the flowers in the vases. And we fix the paintings in the background. And there were some umbrellas out of place, so we moved those. And the teabags in the teacups at the front don’t have their tags hanging in the right direction, so we hung them just right. And we saw that, in the shot, you could only see two of the foxes sitting on the shelf, but we needed to see all three, so we replaced them with a different three items, because it made more sense in that spot than the foxes did anyway, so it was better that way – and we could see all three – but we had to shift the paintings in the background, which pushed one of them out of frame, which meant we only had two- WHY IS EVERYTHING NOT PERFECT?!?!?

…on and on, to infinity.

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Eventually, we shot the first scene and the day was off. Every shot of this one was beautiful and strange, and it played into this character better than we could’ve hoped. For her, three was the perfect number for everything, but we didn’t want her to be creepy or obsessive compulsive. Every one of our characters are a little strange, or creepy to some, but we got a balance here that left us happy she wasn’t a complete weirdo, just quirky.

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And after a long day, we were done with the practical part of everything. All of us exhausted, mind-addled a bit, but excited about what we put together. In the end, they turned out great. Seeing a little idea turned into something interesting and pretty and fun always makes us feel good, and I think everyone on the shoot went away satisfied, as well.

Thanks to everyone who came out and gave us their best. Hopefully, we can all put something amazing together again.

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