What a hard weekend. All for just 30 seconds. Anybody that’s not part of this filming world would not understand how much work goes into a 30 second commercial. I most certainly forgot.
After picking up all the hired equipment with a huge van, my navigation system sent me all around Frankfurt. Navigation systems and I am great friends. I remember so clearly how it once sent me right though a parking lot. I even had to get a ticket. At least I got out without paying. Imagine that.....
On Friday I made my way to my final destination. I wanted to set up all the gear the night before to make sure I was not wasting any time during filming. Saturday morning my assistant/ cameraman/ director/ lighting/ gaffer arrived and around 8 we started setting up outside in the street. All the actors arrived shortly after that and final practice and make-up was in full swing. Just before 11h00 we started filming outside on the crane. The head actress playing the character “Loreley” did a fantastic job under very hard conditions. There were really a lot of people in the streets. Then we had to close the roads and traffic was piling up for hundreds of meters. It was also hard to work with the general public, to play along and walk natural without looking in the direction of the camera while we were bagging the shots for the 30 sec puzzle. To say it was hard, would be a complete understatement. Continuity was virtually impossible but I remembered an interview with Danny Boyle about shooting in Bombay and how he just had to go with the flow of things as they tried to shoot a film in the highly populated streets of Bombay. If he could do it with a 7 million budget then I am for sure up for the challenge.
Back to the matter at hand. The day went extremely well. I got most of the outside shots, staying fairly calm. One classic shot is worth mentioning. I had to shoot a crane shot of wet tracks across the road coming from the Lady Loreley's bare feet. We tried several different methods but none was successful. Spraying water under her foot soles, standing in water, carrying her on a chair and then printing foot by foot. At the end the only thing that worked, was rubbing cooking oil on her feet, carrying her seated on the chair and print foot by foot. It was so successful that 2 days later, when I left for home, the prints were still in perfect condition in front of the hotel entrance.
At 22h30 Saturday evening we packed the gear and called it a day. On Sunday I was up and rocking by 6h30 setting up an extremely complicated restaurant shot. The problem was that I wanted to incorporate the great view from the Rhein river. This meant lots of natural light coming through the windows. We had 5 very powerful HMI daylight balance lights to light up the room. The glass windows and mirrors added to the adventure of the game. We did the lunch time shoot at breakfast time to have the restaurant as full as possible. Lots of interesting close-up’s with dripping water and great moving dolly shots to make for another epic day of filming.
All and all I am pleased with the outcome. My assistant, Lawence Richards, did an outstanding job and is a very talented producer to work with. Nattily, in the roll as the Loreley, worked extremely hard and was absolutely sent directly from heaven for this commercial. I cannot imagine another actor doing it better. The fantastic hotel staff helped as runners and made sure we always had refreshments. The end product will probably be available online some time in October.