One of the most talked-about commercials from this year’s’ Superbowl didn’t even play nationally. It was a 2-minute epic advertising a personal injury lawyer from Savannah, GA. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:
Since I’m an alumnus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, I took a personal interest in this Savannah action, and reached out to Eric Darling, president of eThree Media, the production company that brought Jamie Casino’s singular vision to life. Here’s what Eric told me.
“Casino Law” didn’t air nationally during the Superbowl, but it’s been watched online more than most of the ads that did. How did you feel when you realized that your work was truly going viral?
I was on a totally unrelated shoot with the same DP who shot the commercial with me when we found out we got covered by Deadspin. I knew right away that was the point we were headed for viral activity. I think we were both kind of like, “no way!”
Was there an extensive pre-production process, or was it more of a guerilla-style shoot? How big was the crew?
The pre-production process was extremely quick, due to Jamie only having decided to produce the spot right before Christmas. He stressed to me how quickly he wanted it to be shot so that he could move into post-production at his offices as soon as possible. We wrapped everything on the shoot by the 8th of January.
The crew was not large. We had about 17 people involved, besides Jamie’s own hair/makeup artist, and his wife, who ran all the craft services. We were on a pretty tight budget, and a very tight timetable. So, some of the more non-critical formalities of production were pushed aside.
What camera and support equipment did you rely on to capture such cinematic images? Was the fire real or CG?
Jamie bought a Red Epic, specifically to shoot the commercial, but I think he has plans to use it for other productions in the future. We rented some lenses, since he didn’t have time to purchase a set yet. Our crew was familiar with the rig, and the camera department helped Jamie get all the assorted parts together for the shoot. Aside from the RED RAW dump straight to RAID 1 arrays in the RV (also provided by Jamie), our DIT, Matt Dixon, hooked up Jamie’s RED Rocket to do on-location transcodes into ProRes for quick review by Jamie and the crew.
Doug Suttle, our owner/operator of the Jimmy Jib Triangle was a huge asset for quickly getting all the footage we needed. We shot WAY more stuff that what Jamie ended up using. Otherwise, we used a standard doorway dolly on metal track with dolly wheels for many of the other moving shots. The fire and rain are both real. Bob Shelley’s crew brought their bag of tricks down from Fayetteville, GA. VFX Supervisor/Editor Stephen Withers utilized Nuke and After Effects to enhance what was shot in camera. The lightning in the night fire/rain sequence is produced by some punchy LED fixtures that fired in programmable patterns. Our gaffer, Scott Galatolie rigged those for us.
You’ve reached a huge audience by helping a client deliver a very personal message. What advice would you offer other filmmakers and commercial directors?
If your client is insisting on something, you should listen very carefully. They might just be right!