Last year, on Halloween, I boarded the DSW commercial that is airing right now (early March, 2013):
This commercial was a lot of fun to work on, and also very different, because I was up close and personal with the production, and in this case, it was a real treat. I received the scripts via email and a meeting was scheduled at the London the following morning. The London is a fancy hotel in Hollywood and I’d wanted to check it out anyway since I heard Gordon Ramsey runs it. So I was excited.
Although not asked to, I did a bunch of rough drawings just so I would have something to show them. I remember the last commercial I did with the DSW folks, I had to meet them totally unprepared at Chateau Marmont (another fancy Hollywood hotel), and that was so stressful, because I had to do rough drawings, in pen, in one of those goofy huge comfy chairs while eating a fancy lunch and ten people looking over my shoulder. Nightmare. This time would be different.
The commercial would both be shot at Fox House, which is a famous house that I had never heard of until then, which also happens to be down the street from my parent’s house in Chatsworth, where I grew up. I did some research, and it has this cool 60’s vibe, and is the former home of Frank Sinatra. Very cool! The plot is: a cool couple arrives at a birthday party and everyone dances. That not a lot of storytelling but it was easy to grasp the visuals- so I got to work.
Next day I met with them at the London. The producers were all familiar to me and I remember them from the last commercials we did. I presented the rough boards… and everyone was pretty happy. I was expecting a slaughter and instead I basically hung around and got complimented. I made a couple of rough changes and then was invited to lunch at the rooftop restaurant. That’s about all the work I did that day 🙂
Next day I met them all at Fox House. I followed the directions and arrived at a house I had always been aware of, since I grew up so close to it, but never knew anything about and never suspected I would visit someday. The house is stunning. The pictures don’t do it justice.
And everyone loved my boards. No changes needed yet. Was invited to lunch again, but politely declined and instead surprised my Dad at home, and took him to lunch instead.
Then headed back to the London, base of operations for the production. Their meeting space had expanded will all kinds of wardrobe selections and actors were being cast next to production assistants scrambling to put together the pre-pro book, which is a binder for each member of the crew, which contains my storyboards paired with the script, among other things.
I set up my station, made about an hour’s worth of rough changes, and that was it. Even though all of my drawings were very rough, they were happy with everything and were done with preproduction. They were shooting the next day.
Job well done. Pat myself on the back. And on the way home, I saw one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.