What do you do when you have three days notice to pull off a location car shoot? Well, after sheer panic and some frantic scheduling, the adrenalin kicks in and there's no more time to waste. The call came in from the folks at TBWA and the self proclaimed, ultra laid back team of Dan Bache and Matt Williamson. Seemed like a bit of a misnomer considering the lightning pace of this project. This particular shot was highlighting Nissan's sponsorship of SickKids hospital in Toronto. The concept involved a young patient holding her hand out the window of a moving car, playing with the wind on her way home from the hospital. A simple visual that pretty much anyone who's been in a car can identify with.
First and foremost, we made the decision to shoot on location. Sounds like a no brainer, but often times cars will be shot in studio, then dropped into a location background in post. By shooting everything on location, right away we have a more realistic feel to the shot, showing subtle environmental reflections throughout the body panels of the car.
I had pitched the agency on shooting into the sun, to create a warm and positive feeling. As luck would have it, with our shoot only days away, the forecast was looking terrible. With two of our three pre-production days spent location scouting, lo and behold on the day before the shoot there were blue skies. We jumped at the opportunity to head out and shoot a few sunny backgrounds. Consider it an insurance policy in case the weather didn't cooperate on the shoot day.
In order to make the car appear moving, we needed to have a background that shows motion blur. While it's possible to blur a shot in post, there's no substitute for the real thing. So we hop in the car with yours truly hanging out the trunk shooting long, blurred shots of an empty road. Nothing like an exhilarating shot out the back of a car to add some excitement to the madness of our three day pre-production.
Sure enough, when we show up on our shoot day, the rain is pouring down. Given we were on a very tight budget, we had a small crew, and very little provisions to deal with rain. While it was great to have the sunny backgrounds to fall back on, we had one major hurdle to deal with: rain drops on the car. A tarp over the car was out of the question due to reflections and colour casts. We decided to fly a large sheet of clear plastic to protect the vehicle from the rain, while still giving us a realistic sky reflection in the car. Well, not only is a large sheet of plastic good for blocking rain, it's even better at picking up wind and almost blowing over our entire set. It was all hands on deck from that point forward.
There we were, in the pouring rain, with a battery light acting as our sun, trying to make it look like a beautiful sunny day. It was an endless task wiping down stray raindrops from the car. Dan sent a snapshot of our soggy production to Creative Director Allen Oke. It's all part of the act, I reassured Dan.
After getting our shot with the talent, there appeared to be a break in the clouds. Could it be? If we removed the plastic rain cover, there was no time to reset it, not to mention we had no more dry towels left to wipe up any more rain. A few moments of quick contemplation, and we decided to strike the plastic. With the crew moving in hyper speed, we banged off all the frames we needed, giving us some clean body shots to build our final image. The gamble paid off.
With just one day to work on post, we needed to move fast. After some serious screen time, a session of revisions with Dan at the pub, and one very late night, we had our final image. All in all, not too shabby for having shot in the pouring rain.
Thanks to Dan Bache and Matt Williamson for another great project. And to the hardworking, soaking wet crew of Aaron Hoskins, Nick Wong and Daniel Garcia, we couldn't have pulled it off without you guys.