Q&A With “Thanks, Dan!” Creators

It is a rare lawyer commercial that makes me want to commit a crime, just so that I can be represented by the lawyer in question. That was exactly the response I had when I saw this spot for Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Daniel Muessig.

When I first saw the video, it had been updated a few hours previously, and had 400 views. Later that afternoon, it was well over 18,000. Clearly, I was not the only viewer who was impressed!. Curious about the team behind this viral video, I reached out to the man himself, Dan Muessig, Esq., who was kind enough to reply to my nosy questions.

Dan, your promo video had 400 views when I watched it earlier today. Now it’s over 18,000. What kind of response are you getting from people?
Response has been overwhelmingly positive thus far. Some people are mad but you’ll have that.

Your video has a lot of humor, but you’re making a serious point, which is that everyone should have the right to decent legal representation. Kidding aside, what’s your opinion of the current state of the criminal justice system?
The system is completely broken. Its a conveyor belt to prison. In my mind to be effective you have to have your client’s backs to the extent that you are willing to do anything within the law to help them.

Tell us a little bit about the technical side of the production. Did you hire a production company to help you film and edit this, or was it a “family & friends” operation?
I used a local crew named Covalent. They are great and really professional.

You seem to have another life as “Dos Noun.” Tell us a bit about your alter ego.
I was a rapper first and I always will be. I do underground kinda avant garde rap with an emphasis on freestyling and I do a lot of international touring. I think the legal and lyrical skill sets compliment one another.

Following the bread-crumbs, I then contacted the team at Covalent. Producer Jeff Hilty very graciously provided more details on the “Thanks, Dan!” production, and on their company.

This video is quickly going viral. It had 400 views when I saw it yesterday, and now it’s over 76,000. Did you expect that level of public response?

Honestly, we expected a big local response. Dan has a pretty big regional following from his days of being a battle rapper, screenwriter, and author, so we just figured that it would get solid amount of regional buzz. With that being said, this larger national response is something we had in the back of our minds, but weren’t really concerned with when we were making it. We didn’t really put any expectations on the piece other than making something that would really get Dan the exposure he needed (while getting a few laughs). Really, our primary goal at Covalent is to create content that serves our clients needs and bottom line. Dan had an idea to do something that was very honest, to the point, and that would get him clients.

The video has a low-budget aesthetic, but it’s obviously well-constructed and nicely shot. Tell us a little about the technical side of production: what equipment did you use to shoot and edit?

We shot the video with on a Canon c300, primarily with available light. We did incorporate a minor amount of lighting for certain scenes, but primarily we were shooting in available light. Editing was done in Adobe Premiere and all graphics were constructed in Adobe After Effects, and all color correction was done in Davinciā€¦.. Taking this opportunity, our most important tools were our team. We stand unified, “bonded” if you will, but our core team members are Nicholas Buchheit, Brandon Snyder, Jeff Hilty, and Chad Calcagno. We also have a kick-ass web-developer, Adrian D’Amico, who ironically enough is also a lawyer. The “Thanks Dan” project had some other contractors on the project because, in the end, it takes a village. Eliott Acevedo ran camera for all of criminal narrative, Mike Lupinacci was responsible for all of the graphics work, Anthony Jones did the musical accompaniment, and Nathaniel Robinson mixed the final audio.

Dan obviously has some strong feelings about the criminal justice system. Did working with him affect the way you perceive “the system”?

Dan is one of the most honest, intelligent, and insightful clients we have ever worked with. We think he enlightened us on the inter-workings of the system more than anything else. In the end, for us, this project wasn’t really about the system, justice, or lack there of. It was about making a really funny, honest video that would help get Dan’s face on the laptops and smartphones of the people that needed his professional counsel.

Your company – Covalent – does a wide variety of projects. Tell us about a few things you\’ve done that are totally different from “Thanks, Dan!”

Primarily, we do a variety of corporate videos including how-to’s, product launch videos, commercials, testimonials, sales and marketing tools, etc. Also, we do web design, development, and SEO services. You can check out most of that work at our website, www.wearecovalent.com. There’s a short film premiering in April called “Lemonade” that we really were glad to be able help produce. We consider ourselves highly-creative and eclectic, and hope to continue doing projects that span the production spectrum.

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