Monday, November 8, 2010

Banned From TV! - Hauntedweb Commercial 2010

In a previous blog I told the story of how we got hooked up with Hauntedweb of Memphis to shoot their commercial. And I teased how that commercial got banned from TV. Yup, the first commercial we ever had to play on local TV and it lasted maybe 2 days. 

Remember the "infamous face rub" moment I mentioned before? Well see, once the commercial started running, someone called the sponsor and complained that it was depicting violence against women. Now I agree that scene was unsettling. I was there when we shot it and I can tell you, it was pretty fucking creepy. So I do understand and empathize with any complaints. I even remember watching Craig edit the commercial and saying to him, "That's gonna air on TV?" Even I knew then it was a little too risqué. But, as a horror fan I can also appreciate the story/vibe we were telling with that scene. 

What I don't get is why they (whoever the "they" is that made this decision) decided to run a haunted house commercial at 9 o'clock in the MORNING during the local news program. Marketing 101 tells me that's not exactly the target audience for such a thing. My guess is that it was the most affordable air time. 

But it was a fun and interesting experience and I certainly don't regret any decision. After all, we gave the client what he wanted in this commercial, so we did our part. I hate it for him that he had to pull the commercial. However, there is a silver lining. They continued to run the commercial on the website and wound up raising $78,000 for Youth Villages! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hauntedweb Commercial 2010

You know the saying, "if you want something done, give it to a busy person"? Wow, is that ever true. I get so much more done when I'm in the thick of things, going with the flow, moving from task to task than I ever do sitting on my ass. Such is the case with this past August and September. 

Fresh off of shooting "BLOOD THERAPY," we get asked to shoot a commercial for a local haunted attraction. It's called Hauntedweb of Memphis and it benefits Youth Villages. On a side note, isn't it cool how horror people are the nicest people in the world? Most of them are family guys/gals, and enjoy donating their time to benefit others and have a little fun doing it. That's the atmosphere we walked into at Hauntedweb. 

First, a little backstory. In 2009 when I was co-producing "A Disjointed Proposal" (directed by Derek Steiner), it was my job to find an F/X person. I asked around the few film contacts I had made by that time and was referred to Duane P. Craig. After getting in touch with him we agreed to meet at the haunt one afternoon since he was already there prepping for the haunt season. This was probably early Sept 2009 if I had to guess, because we made "Proposal" in Oct. Anyway, we meet and agree that Duane is the guy for the job. While we were there, he introduced us to Patrick and the haunt crew and then we got the grand tour. Wow! The amount of talent drifting through that place at that moment was astonishing. The haunt was and is still housed in an old movie theatre. The scary scenarios change every year or two, and at that time we got to walk through an asylum, a creepy shack complete with creepy cannibal family (played by real actors), and a dark vortex of neon paint and 3D clown effects. Holy shit I was in heaven!! Craig put it best. It's like a horror fan's Chuck E. Cheese. 

Fast forward to the following May (2010) and we're downtown at the annual zombie walk. By this time we had become friends with Duane so we stopped in to say hello. He and Patrick from Hauntedweb had a makeup stand set up for attendees to come by and get a zombie makeover before the walk. We didn't hang around long. They were very busy. But after the walk was over we ran into them again. Patrick immediately came up to us and started chatting. 

Cut to July and he asks us if we'd like to shoot their next commercial for the haunt. Hell yeah! But we were deep into pre-production on "BLOOD THERAPY" and if we could fit it in we definitely wanted to. Fortunately it did work out and we finished "BLOOD THERAPY" on time. But there was one catch. 

The deadline for the Indie Memphis Film Fest had passed and the start date for the fest was fast approaching. I was gonna do whatever it took to get our short in that fest. I contacted the director and pled my case and he agreed as long as I could deliver a screener within a very short amount of time. I mean, he needed it like soon. The thing that saved us is, Craig edits as we're shooting so by the time we wrapped production, we were already close to picture lock. Now all that was left (I say "all" like it's no big deal, heh) was color correction, sound, and all the zillion other things that goes into post-production. But at least we were close to picture lock. It gave us the confidence we needed to put "Blood Therapy" on hold to shoot the commercial for Hauntedweb. Now keep in mind that the commercial also had a deadline. I don't remember the exact date, but it had to be delivered *before* the screener for "BLOOD THERAPY". Whew!

So we shot the commercial at the end of August (we shot "BLOOD THERAPY" in early August!). What a great, great time we had! We met some amazingly talented people at the haunt. Many of whom I'm proud to call friends today. Here's a quick little story about one of the moments of filming - and this moment is in the final edit. It involved the character of the girl who gets taken captive and the character of the henchman. The actress is lying on the table and Craig (director) gives the henchman actor direction to hold her down as she's squirming and then gently rub her face as if he's admiring her. Oh my God! Let me tell you! It was a genuinely creepy moment to witness and I'm thrilled to say it also came through on camera. I (and everyone else there) got chills. There was a literal gasp heard after Craig called cut from everyone exhaling. And then the room burst into applause. In another blog entry I'll tell the story about how this "infamous face rub" moment got our commercial banned from local TV!

In the end it all worked out. We shot and edited the commercial, and delivered it to the TV station on time. And we worked on "BLOOD THERAPY" at every opportunity and delivered it on time to play in Indie Memphis. Everybody got what they needed and we were of course extremely happy for the opportunities!