Director: Lorenzo Fonda
Client: San Diego Zoo
Agency: MC Saatchi LA
Creative director: James Bray
Agency producer: Dennis Disalvo
Copywriter: Maria Smith
Art director: Ron Tapia
Production company: Paydirt Pictures
Executive producers: Jonathon Ker, Jeremy Barrett, Dilly Gent
Producer: Skot Bright
Director of photography: Justin Gurnari
Production designer: Jade Altman
1st AD: James Heth
Stylist: Leila Baboi
Puppet maker: Lee Romaire
Casting: Prime Casting
Editing: Anthony Cerniello @ Bonch
Vfx & compositing: Bill Pollock @ Bonch
At the beginning of 2013 the San Diego Zoo (world’s second best zoo, by the way- the first one is the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, in case you wondered) acquired around 20 koalas, which they were soon planning to insert into their own custom made habitat at the new Australian Outback exhibition. Since most of the people visiting the zoo come from southern California, MC Saatchi agency came up with the Koalafornia campaign, where little cute Koalas would “invade” California and do human things like there was nothing weird about it.
I worked closely with the creatives, starting from their scripts and adding some fun details here and there, while keeping in mind the limitations of having to work with a puppet and its respective puppeteers. We had a back up plan to go shoot real koalas at the zoo against green screen, in case the puppet didn’t look real enough; but when we saw the first comped footage we gladly realized we didn’t need that.
Overall, this was one of the most entertaining projects I’ve been part of. The campaign even won an award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for “Campaign Budget more than $175,000”.
This is how the puppeteers would move the koala. They would subsequently be painted out from the shot with the computer.
Me hard at work. photo by Leila Baboi.