OVERVIEW: The goal: 16 hero shots of the fun, the vibrant, the insured.
Under the direction of the kind, brilliant, and spirited creative peeps at T3 (Austin), we set our ambitious course: Shoot 16 final hero conceptual photographs in 5 shoot-days, plus scores of tertiary images. The goal: To populate the brand new Allstate website with iconic, stylized lifestyle-ish photographs representing each of the main “insurance genres” that Allstate offers. The direction called for: Authentic, fun, and vibrant! We’d be shooting indoor and outdoor locations.
BUILDING THE TEAM: With a little help from my friends . . .
The first step in building the production team was finding a solid producer in Austin, Texas. My agent Deb Ayerst discovered that our prime candidate, Ally Godfrey, was actually available for the window of time we needed! (So if Deb is John Lennon, Ally is Paul McCartney, and I’m George Harrison, we just needed Ringo.) And bingo, Ringo was available! That would be my first assistant, Julio Duffoo. From there Ally assembled all the other key local players. Thanks, Ally!
WEATHER: Here comes a hurricane.
During our well orchestrated and planned-out week in Austin, we also had the challenge of contending with the possibility of a hurricane – which was roaring up the Gulf Coast of Mexico. I discovered that by far the best defense against a hurricane is to stay up all night, every night, for a week - worrying about this possibility. It worked! I think it had something to do with the ultimate conversion of worry into a high pressure zone from the North-East that pushed the threatening system West instead of North.
In all honesty though, I didn’t worry about much of anything. We had a mission to accomplish, we were prepared for some rain, and if there was a hurricane we’d have to push the shoot out by a day or two. Geez, one way or another, we were going to make this sucker happen!
DIRECTING STYLE: Mostly embarrassing. My usual directing style was employed: acrobatic, musical (Frank Zappa a cappella), constantly running into the set to “feel” the scene, and often conducting a chorus of REALLY fake laughter from the crew.
SHOOTING and POST PRODUCTION: The highlights (as far as I’m concerned).
Everyone’s got a different perspective on what a production’s highlights are. Some focus on the challenges of lighting a warehouse, or racing to get the 3rd back-up generator when the storm steals the electricity. And while I enjoy overcoming all the technical and environmental challenges, during post-production when we’re gathered with the crew over a beer, it’s the spirit of the shoot we’ll rehash, not the geeky f-stop stuff or snafus.
The first day we were “guests” at the lovely Emma Long Park. Having shot the motorcycle, motor home, retirement guy on the bench, and the family on the boat, I stood at the edge of the lake after the sun went down. I looked up and saw a few hundred bats in the twilight. Taking a deep breath, I said thanks to our first day. Then somehow my mind went to the retirement guy on the bench swatting the fire ants as they crawled up his ankles - and I had a hearty laugh.
Other moments I enjoyed included hearing the joy in prop stylist, Joaquin’s voice when he found us a perfectly dented car for our claims shot, listening to loud Hawaiian music while shooting the renter with her empty boxes, and fantasizing about speeding off in one of those ATV’s and returning with ice coffees for the crew. But one of my fondest memories was seeing our coffee-jacked assistant Julio standing inside the grip truck after our 15-hour day, taking a swig from a water bottle, and then smiling at me as he screwed the cap back on. This is fun, satisfying and useful – what we’re doing here.
While most of the images were going to be created in-camera, I was sure to get the best possible background plates during our perfectly sunny scouting days - should the weather make it necessary to do some compositing in post. This only became necessary for two shots: The ATV shot and the baker placing the sign outside of her business. PDI (Pacific Digital Image) did all the post production / retouching on this project. They are magic. (And for that matter the whole crew was magic!)
The Allstate Austin “A” Photography Team (not everyone is pictured):
Producer: Ally Godfrey
Production Coordinator: Andrea Lazard
Post Production: PDI (Pacific Digital Image)
Casting: Rachel Flanigan Casting
Digital Tech: Travis Scheibel
1st Assistant: Julio Duffoo
2nd Assistant: Amy R. Smith
3rd Assistant: Robert Gomez
Prop Stylist: Joaquin Morin
Prop Assistant: Mark Spacek
Car Guy: Cool Car Casting - Russell Scott
Stylist: Bonnie Markel
Stylist Assistant: Sarah Wanezek
Hair / Makeup: Lucy Santamassino
Craft Service: Max Thomas
Production Assistant: Madeleine Tritco
Animal Wrangler: Traci Murdock
Motorhome Driver: Dewey / Austin Base Camp
Set Medic: Romy Stevenson
Mitch's Agent: Deb Ayerst
Please visit my official site at http://www.mitchtobias.com to see the rest of the portfolio.