After a brief journey to Chile to help shoot a MasterCard commercial, I learned that Chileans are warm, fun-loving people who will go out of their way to help. Nonetheless, if they tell you something will take ten minutes, I hope you’ve packed a snickers bar and, in my case, some warm clothes because you’ll probably be waiting a while.
The storyline of our 30 second spot revolved around a goofy but lovable character on a ski trip who foolishly chooses to bring a large jar of cash and coins to the mountains instead of his MasterCard. As you could imagine, that decision didn’t pan out so well, especially on the slopes.
My initial reaction to the storyboards was “that’s pretty weak,” but with fantastic casting, an excellent production team, breathtaking locations and tons of determination, my opinion did a 720.
Boy, does Chile offer some amazing vistas!
The commercial- which is to air in Russia and several other European countries- was made by a talented production team comprised of a ridiculous hodge-podge of nationalities. The client was a global ad agency whose London office manages the European MasterCard account. A high-level executive was sent from England to South America to be the clients’ creative liaison. He brought with him two producers and two creatives from Poland (my Polish last name scored me big points with this group ;) ). Our D.P. was from Greece, the director hailed from Spain, a large majority of the production team and actors were from Chile, there were a handful from Argentina, a young South African girl, an interesting cross bread Scottish/Chilean, and last but not least, their token American.
The first part of my mission was to go to NYC to test a wide range of anamorphic lenses on a super high end Arri Alexa HD camera and transport $330,000 worth of cutting edge camera tech to Santiago, Chile. Sounds easy enough, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong. Between the camera house missing some equipment, a last minute request for additional specialty filters, my first ride breaking down, my second one coming late, and torrential down pours in NYC & Miami, let’s just say missing my flight to the southern tip of South America felt like the end of the world, and believe it or not, that was just the beginning!
To keep this article at a somewhat reasonable length, I’ll skip the play-by-play and share a few fun facts:
1. In Chile, our summers are their winters and vise versa.
2. The sunsets in the Andes are so beautiful, even stray dogs stop and watch.
3. Workdays on a film set can go from 6:30 a.m – 1:30 a.m.
4. Doing most things in the snow is more difficult than it needs to be… film production is no exception.
5. There was a major communication barrier. After 20 minutes of searching the set for a woman named Katherine, I finally found her only to find that “Katherine” was a short, chubby man from “Catering”.
6. The camera crew will build some crazy contraptions to get that one amazing shot.
7. If the camera falls, something will break!
8. Thermal underwear, boots, gloves, sun glasses, and lip balm are a must under said conditions… I only had 2 of the 5!
9. When getting on a ski lift with a bunch of equipment, wait for the operator to slow it down… Yup learned that the hard way, too.
Although this mission was long, cold, and chock-full of obstacles, I met some wonderful people and got some serious life experiences.
I can’t wait to see what amazing adventure life brings me on next!
Your boy :b
Foto fun fact: We were shooting on an Arri Alexa, which is the newest craze in HD video. It’s been so successful because latitude is the closest digital has gotten to film yet. Alexa provides a tonal range of 13.5 stops to Films 14+ stops.