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AAA Behind the Scenes: Episode One “The Drag Strip”

In January of 2011, I was asked by “The Gentlemen,” Brett Snider and Billy Federighi, a very creative and humorous, directing at Bandito Brothers, to shoot a series of AAA commercials. The spots were hilarious and we all felt would be the perfect canvas for the Canon 5D platform. We would need to shoot 4 commercials in 3 days with one spot encompassing 4 company moves in a day: Fontana Raceway, Pomona Lake, a Residential House, and a Park.

Smash cut to the power of the 5D camera. We had a 12 camera package which was the right cocktail to be able to leap frog from location to location as well as being able to leave a 6 camera package so that Elite Team member Mike Svitak could do his second unit racing action magic. My other team members consisted of Dave Knudson, Marc Margulies, Derek Edwards, Chris Moseley, Andrew Laboy and Jose De Los Angeles. Doug Leigh rocked out as our A camera operator on the BTS and Tim Holtermann came in to lend a hand on day three. Vashi Nedomansky was brought in to edit this baby on Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS5 Suite.

Episode One: Day One at the Drag Strip documents a racer getting ready to take off at the starting line. His pit crew lowers the car’s hood as the pit boss comes swooping in to tell the driver he is good to go. All of a sudden, a female insurance agent from AAA rips his headset off and informs the driver that AAA has his back on everything that he owns and drives. The Christmas tree lights go GREEN and he takes off, through the smoke. I push my 5D into a two shot as the bizarre team celebrates victory. END OF SPOT.

Now we move on to shoot the second commercial, which is a PSA (public service announcement) about responsible teenage driving for AAA, at the end of the drag strip during sunset. We shot this with 3 cameras. 2 were in front of John delivering his dialogue on 80 and 180mm Leica lenses, while the third camera was on a side rake profile shot with a 100mm macro. This spot was shot in one hour and then wrapped. This looked so cool with the setting sun behind John and our soft ambience coming from the 2-6K HMI pars blowing through the 8 x 8 Full Grid.

Stay tuned for Episode Two: We go inside the Nascar race and watch Kurt Bush doing some ridiculous things while driving at 180mph. Did someone say Alaskan King Crab?

Equipment used on this BTS:

Leica R Mount Glass: 24,28,35,50,80,100macro,180mm

Canon L Series Primes: 300, 500, 800mm

Zeiss ZE Wide glass 18mm, 21mm for Nascar mounts

Canon 5D, and 7D cameras

Cineroid EVF Red Rock Shoulder Mount and Man Cam Rigs

HP 24” Dream Color 2480 zx Monitors

DP-6 Small HD on-board monitors

Anton Bauer Dionic 90’s

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Suite

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