Short film – promo/documentary style

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The Reel

Hot off the render bar. With new commercials from earlier this year. I’m very proud of this one.

Commercials Made on Spec

I’ve been collaborating with Dustin and Kandice of 2weeks Productions since the beginning of April 2011. I’ve been cinematographer and editor of two of their reality pilots and four of their Poptent commercials. The reality pilots are still under wraps, one of which will soon start production as a show, and the commercials are all below.

Title: Choices
Tagline: Not all choices are obvious, though drinking responsibly should be.
Client: Jack Daniels
http://www.poptent.net/getplayer/35129

Title: Warp to Entertainment Freedom
Tagline: His new TV takes a young man on an amazing ride.
Client: Vizio
http://www.poptent.net/getplayer/32770

Title: Will Work for Small Frys
Tagline: Young girls do what they can to collect all of the limited edition Smallfrys from the different collections by Build-A-Bear Workshop. Next week is a car wash…..
Client: Build-a-Bear Small Frys
http://www.poptent.net/getplayer/41108

Title: What does Happy mean to you?
Tagline: A father and daughter explain what happy means to them and show how they share their happiness with the one that they love.
Client: Clinique Happy
http://www.poptent.net/getplayer/53083

Royalty – You

Back in November a friend of mine introduced me to an amazing new artist. Started shooting a week later and this is the music video I created for him. His album will be released sometime in May.

Jonathan Edwards – We Sell Dirt!

This commercial is a collaboration with Eric Gibson, which we made for a friend of ours, Jonathan Edwards. Specifically his company, which sells… dirt! Jonathan is an awesome guy, and I had a ton of fun editing his performance. We just finished mastering this tonight. Its going out soon on Shreveport TV sometime soon.

Reset Training

Reset was a fitness and nutrition program. I produced, directed and edited the DVD, and worked a bit on promotion as well.

Running a Business: The Truth of the Matter

Orion Beaufort directing RESET

Getting Beaufort Productions off the ground has been an awesome opportunity for personal and professional development, but it hasn’t been a smooth ride, by any means.

I discovered that running a business is a lot more challenging than I had thought it would be (a common discovery, I’m sure!). People talk a lot about how having your own business is great because you enjoy more freedom, you get to choose your own hours, and you can make more money. That’s all true, but what I have found is that I am under a lot more stress than as an employee, and it is difficult to work with the income fluctuations that are natural in any business.

I was hoping for more creativity, more engaging projects, doing things I enjoyed doing, and it has turned out to be more interesting than my jobs, but not a whole lot more interesting.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely, if nothing else than for the discoveries I made about myself. I found out that I work really well in a team environment. I strongly prefer to work with people, rather than alone as a silo. I see my clients as collaborators, and that is ultimately my working style. I propose something to them and say “What do you think? Does this send the right message for you?” More often than not they really enjoy talking with someone who is obviously an expert in the video advertising world and being able to make use of my experience in getting their project how they want it.

I enjoy working with clients who are very clear in what they want. I have found that all the small business owners I have worked with are very professional and respectful, which is fantastic. We combine their thoughts with my feedback, collaborating back and forth until it turns into a beautiful, great idea.

I really enjoy wowing them. There were two different companies that I created a logo for while I was working on their commercial, just because I saw that they had didn’t have a logo that would work in the context so I created something and sent it to them and they both responded along the lines of “Wow, this is great! Send it to us bigger so we can use it in our other materials!” That was exciting for me – I like throwing in those little extras that make a big difference to the client.

Assistant Director, Helen Beaufort, on the set of RESET

Assistant Director, Helen Beaufort, on the set of RESET

I have learned that I am a very good director. I’m still trying to be less James Cameron, or at least, less demanding with my perfectionism when it comes to people I work with. Working with clients, of course, really helped me learn patience in getting things right. They give me instructions like “make it bigger” or ” more ‘pop'”, which don’t really make sense to me but I have to kind of pull out of them what they really want to do, which is interesting and sometimes fun.

I really get to demonstrate to myself that I am a good manager. Prior to Beaufort Productions I hadn’t had much management experience so I really got into working with people, making sure they had what they needed and that they were doing a good job. I made some really great friends that way too. I got to work with one young man who, when I first met him, had only worked on a couple of projects and wasn’t very skilled or professional just because he was so inexperienced. He was working with me on Saints Wrap Up and on commercials and I was able to direct and coach him on shots. We had a lot of fun – he got to feel more confident in his abilities and I also got to feel more comfortable giving him assignments. By the time I finished my projects with Lyon Productions he was shooting his own commercials and editing them skillfully. So it was a very fulfilling experience for me and I discovered that I particularly enjoy the mentoring side of management.

Creating TV Commercials

A lot of the commercials in Saints Wrap Up were for local Helena, Montana businesses. We didn’t have a lot of time to put into making them, although we tended to put in more time than was budgeted just because the budget was so small. It usually called for 4 hours from start to finish – plan it, shoot it, edit it, write it to DVD.

For example, I planned two different commercials for Pallister Plumbing. I listed out the themes, wrote the script, edited the script, Pallister would edit it, and then I shot the footage. It basically consisted of shots of Pallister and his wife talking on a couch, a bunch of product shots and a professional voiceover talking about how great the products were. I’d put all that together, whip up some graphics to make it look pretty, edit it in response to Pallister’s feedback and then we were done.

One of my favorite commercials was for the Brad Schmidt Agency, selling life insurance. The reason it was my favorite was that it was very personable and very professional at the same time. A lot of the commercials we did were rather seat-of-our-pants, throw some graphics in there, and hope for the best, but the Brad Schmidt Agency ad was well choreographed and turned out beautiful, in my opinion.

Marty, my contractor, had me show up at Mount Helena with some cameras and equipment, and I met Brad for the first time. Brad discussed what he wanted and Marty made a plan. We filmed Brad talking about how important life insurance is, and got some great footage of him walking around the mountain with his son. Now, Mount Helena is a beautiful location, quite frankly. It has a great view of the town, which has some awesome architecture in it, and it’s covered in grass which some winding trails. All in all, a pretty neat spot. I got to do a bunch of pans, circles, and make use of my handheld skills, which was a lot of fun.

I seized an opportunity to work on his logo during the editing phase as well, which made the project even more interesting for me, and I was pleased with final result.

The Saints Wrap-Up Experience

A still of the Saints-Wrap Up Show

Host Bruce Parker and Coach Van Deese discuss the intricacies of the Saint's football play strategy.

Every Sunday from September 2008 through March 2009 I was in charge of shooting and editing a TV show called Saints Wrap Up. The Saints is the name given to the sports teams at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. The football team is actually very good in their league and they’ve won quite a few seasons. They went to the National Championship the year that I worked on that show (though they didn’t win). The show featured interviews with the coaches and highlights from the week’s games.

Each show was made from start to finish in an 8 hour window. I get a lot of people asking me what it was like to do that, so here’s a rundown of my typical weekly experience:

I had two production assistants helping me make sure we had everything, carrying things, keeping track of the mics, etc. which was very helpful. We’d generally already have all the equipment set out from the day before.

So we would get to the office at about 10:30 am every Sunday. We’d grab the equipment and drive over to the location with a freshly edited show plan – basically a listing of all the commercials that we wanted to include and how much time we had for each segment. Hopefully we had all the segments timed out by then – sometimes we wouldn’t know what the segments were going to be until after we would get back from shooting the show but normally we would have a good idea of what we had to get for each piece.

Saints Wrap-Up Show 2009 Logo

The new logo for 2009

We would reach the shooting location at 11:00 am and basically talk with the host and set up the cameras and the lighting. We had just enough time to set up so if we had forgotten batteries or tape or something we would have to pause the show, which would of course cut into our edit time, which did on occasion lead to some crazy last minute stuff.

At around 11:30 the talent would arrive – the coaches and players. We had at least two coaches to interview, plus a player or two, sometimes more, and they had 3-5 minute segments each. The host had his interviews planned out and we had a two-camera shoot so we would basically just keep the cameras running, keep quiet, and make sure the cameras didn’t do anything weird like run out of battery or flip to the side. Occasionally we had a camera not working so we had to do a one-camera shoot. We’d just be zooming in and out a bit or stick with the wide angle.

Saints Wrap-UP Show Highlights Reel

Mixing HD and SD made the highlights reel extra awesome.

So the shoot was pretty easy and we got free food at the end – always a plus! If we had a ‘highlights’ reel from the previous night’s games we would record the host giving voiceovers for that. One of the assistants shot the highlights reel and edited it on Saturday night so that it was ready to be incorporated on Sunday, although sometimes I had to finish it for him.

At this point it would be between 12:30 and 1:30 and we’d drive back to the office, capture all the tapes onto the hard drive which would take us to about 2:30 or 3:00. We’d edit the footage from the two cameras, making sure there weren’t any audio issues – sometimes we’d have to re-sync the audio or eliminate background noise. Then we’d add in all the graphics, which were pre-made, although we’d have to edit the titles, make sure all the names were spelled correctly, re-order the commercials, that kind of thing.

Saints Wrap-Up Show Touchdown

The Saints make another winning play.

By this point it would be about 6:30 or 7:00 and we had to do a pretty fast render, get it onto DVD and drive it over to the NBC station for almost immediate airing. Thankfully it was Sunday evening so we didn’t have to run into anyone on the road!

I gained a lot of experience with directing, planning and production. Doing the show forced me to become fast and efficient at my editing. Fortunately the edits were very obvious. I got to play around with L-cuts, which is where the image changes before or after the audio, and other video editing techniques. I had to make sure it was as perfect as I could get it before I took it to the station, because once it was there, it went on air and that was that.

We did of course encounter a host of problems that had to be solved in the moment during production. Batteries would die and so we’d only have one camera to work with. Sometimes mics were fuzzy and so we could only use one. There were times when we didn’t realize there was a mic issue until we got to the editing station where we’d have to clean up the audio, which gave us another hour of work to do. Occasionally production assistants couldn’t be there, which made it a fun challenge for me, watching two cameras and the talent at the same time, plus monitoring the audio, making notes on the tapes, etc.

Saints Wrap-Up Show Basketball

The Basketball team wasn't as good, but they were fun to watch.

Sometimes the shoot would run long which would eat into our edit session. Once someone forgot the plate for the tripod so we just had to balance the camera on it and hold it there for the duration! Now and then an interviewee would go long so we had to jig the segments around or remove commercials to make enough time. Rendering often brought up a wonderful plethora of problems, making for quite a few nail-biting finish lines.

I was definitely able to handle everything that came up. I didn’t always have the luxury of time to figure out the cause of a problem so I just had to run with it and keep everything rolling, getting it as good as I could. There was no time for perfectionism. Occasionally a show would air with a few blips in the audio or a repeated commercial, and I would feel a bit deflated about it, but most of the time I was happy with the result. And hey, there was always a next week.

Boxwoods Ad

This spot was for a specialty furniture store in Helena. We used crane footage of their store and new graphics for their annual sale.