1 - Wesley Clark
Director: Lorenzo Fonda
Client: Boys and Girls Clubs of America
Agency: McCann Eriksonn San Francisco
Creative Director: Gerald Lewis
Agency executive producer: Vince Genovese
Concept and writer: Lorenzo Fonda
Production company: Paydirt Pictures
Executive producers: Jonathon Ker, Jeremy Barrett
Producer: Ari Weiner
Animation: Lorenzo Fonda, Bonsai Ninja, Ingenuity Engine VFX, Resolution Design
Music & sound design: Slogan Music
Compositing: Brewsters Parsons
Directors of Photography: Michael Pescasio, Iain Mackenzie
Editing: Union Editorial
Post production: Union Editorial
Voice over: Jose Rosete
If this is not a project that can be deemed as a labor of love, I don't know what else could be.
The Boys and Girls Clubs are places here in America where volunteers help kids do recreational activities, so they can stay away from hanging in the streets avoiding whatever bad situations that can bring, or just not being alone at home while their parents do double jobs to make a living for the whole family.
Lots of famous people working now in the arts, politics and education spent their youths in these clubs, and they couldn't be the persons they are now without them.
When the agency came to us asking for a treatment with an almost non-existant budget, the situation required some smart decisions from my part.. so I thought it could have been funny to create a 3 minutes short film for each testimonial, which if you do the math is like making six commercials for each person. Add the animation and post production and everything, and what you get is one year and a half in the making of two spots. Now, did I say smart decisions?
Of course it was a great ride, where I learned so much, all of which couldn't have happened (this time more than the others) without the generous help of all the people who worked either for free or for very, very little money.
Make sure you visit the BGCA website and make a small donation if you like. I have visited a few of these places and you can't help feeling that if there's one thing that could make this world better, that's volunteering for places like these.
And now, after all the bla bla about congratulating myself and my team, let me congratulate myself even more by showing you a little of the making-of of the spot.
It all started after the brief from McCann saying they wanted to tell the story of Wesley in the clubs, possibly using episodes from his life in and out of the clubs. I proposed an idea (which i'd rather not show here since i might reuse it somewhere else), but it was discarded. So i tried to come up with another idea. Here's what i came up with:
tumbleweeds rolling. crickets chirping.
luckily my producer Jeremy has a refined hearing and told me, why don't you play with his uniform, maybe the shape, maybe the decorations?
So i started looking from every angle at his decorations, and after a while i finally had my eureka moment. they looked like videogames stages! how could i not see it before! i quickly scribbled down some ideas:
but wait.. war is not a videogame! you'll get so much shit for comparing war to some games! don't do it.
ok do it but make sure it's tasteful. or at least try.
so i researched as much as I could about general's Clark's life and career, and came up with core events that could work with the shape of the decorations. here's the document i put together for the agency to present my idea.
awesome! brilliant! it's going to be fucking great! i showed my producers at Paydirt before showing it to the agency, and this was our conversation, more or less:
Paydirt: This looks great. It's going to cost half a million dollars.
Paydirt: Did you hear what we just said?
Me: Yes!!! How much do we have again?
Paydirt: Fifteen thousand dollars.
Me: That's what i thought. Can't we ask for some favors..? I don't know.. some friends around..?
Paydirt: Sure, people crave working for free all the time.
Me: Yes!!! That's what i thought!
So we sent the agency the idea and they loved it. Shit. now i had to MAKE it.
As my producers were starting to contact animation studios, i put together a visual reference animatic, to get an idea if and how the whole piece could flow visually.
when done, we had four studios willing to help out (this is where having producers with lots of ties comes in handy). I would take care of the first two simple scenes, my friends Bonsai Ninja from Italy would take care of the rest of the very complicated 2D scenes, Ingenuity VFX from Hollywood would do the Tekken style 3D, Resolution Design from Sydney would do the final realistic looking CG, and Brewsters Parsons from Venice would take care of the live footage pull-out at the end.
and everything would have had to be orchestrated through email. talk about outsourcing! no problem, i check email 567 times a day anyway. and i like to write, so, shall we start?
i created an animatic, trying to be as specific as possible to make the animators job easier, but also tried to keep it open for suggestions by them.
the people at Boys and Girls Clubs organized us a nice trip to Arkansas, to go meet general Clark and take a few pictures and video of him talking about the clubs, in case we decided we would use a voice over.
now that i was in the room with the man, i could see why he had become who he is.. i probably never been around someone with a stronger presence than him (he ran for 2008 US presidential elections, by the way).
back, i kept working with the studios to come up with animations i would be happy with (trust me, i'm fucking picky when it comes to animation). my job was to provide them with directions and visual references. here is some for the office scene:
for instance, here is a very early animation test for the airport and office scene.. in this case, Resolution would send me a basic setup and camera movements and i would write back telling which changes to make.
because the shot we did in Arkansas with camera pulling back from the general didn't really work, i had to come up with a new idea on how to reveal that the story was all inside Clark's decorations. i decided to use a picture of him inside a frame, on some shelf inside a house.
we used Paydirt's meeting room as the "house", and our kick ass director Iain Mackenzie shot the scene, because he is also his own dp.
after a few tries though, it was clear it was impossible to go from that close to that wide with the same lens.
so, Iain decided to just take pictures, one after the other, pulling away from the frame, and changing the lens when needed. something like a stop motion movement shot. then, in post, "someone" would stitch the pictures together and create a fluid camera movement out of them, just like it was shot in one take.
all i could do was listen and watch speechless.
Turns out that that "someone" who did stich everything together was Martyn Taylor at Brewsters Parsons. He assured me that it was going to work, as he did pretty much the same thing with the last shot of the movie Into the wild, and it was a much more trickier one. Ok Martyn, I trust you, sorry if i asked.
months and months later, we finally had a resemblance of final cut. even though it still had shots still to be textured and worked on, it was a template good enough to be sent to the music people, the wonderful guys at Slogan Music.
i prepared a musical mood reference for each scene, all music taken from videogames.
what they sent back blew my away, and instantly brought to surface the emotional core of the story. now i knew we were putting together something quite powerful.
finally, we were done with animation! We contacted the fine folks at Union Editorial who were going to create all the videogame infographics. this is what my directions for them looked like, more or less:
We posted an ad on Craigslist asking for a voice over artist to do the general's voices, Jose' Rosete responded and two days after we had in our mailboxes the voices ready to be used (he did it for free, thanks so much Jose).
Now that we had everything, Union edited the whole piece, cutting out some bits that were slowing down the pace, and basically finished the spot.
And that's all, folks! thanks for sitting with us on this ride, and come back soon for new and endless adventures in the fantastic realm of doing films whatever the f**k it takes!
- Nat Geo Big Cats Week
- Boys and Girls Clubs
- Nike - Run unleashed
- Alfa Romeo - sloth
- Boston IFF
- MTV - The almighty handstanding being
- Converse - giant leap
- Sundek - Skip the winter
- Mtv Aids Day
- Nike Shox
- Nike PKO
- Bastard - enjoy summer
- Paramount Comedy
- MTV ident - tamandua love
- What if stories intro
- Scissor Sisters - Baby Come Home
- Scissor Sisters - Only the Horses
- Metronomy - The Look
- Jamie Woon - Night Air
- For a Minor Reflection - A Moll
- Warp20 - NYC
- Bright Eyes - No one would riot for less
- Bernard Fleischmann - 00/02
- Duo 505 - "Nochwas"
- Sungria - Prelude
- the sound of heat
- ten things I have learned about the sea
- king of empty
- blu + ericailcane
- short films about life
- lord of the wars
- 2 in 2
- gobbe party promos
- bastard mural timelapse
- sketchbook one
- sketchbook two
- sketchbook three
- a new hope
- a list of stuff
- commuting goombas
- telephone image search
- a trumpet and a feather