ANOTHER KICKASS COMMERCIAL SHOOT AND SOME HOLIDAY WORK TO BOOT.
After our successful September shoot with our amazing Pepperidge Farm clients, the crew and I were back in the saddle again for round 2. This time around, I was asked to direct as well which I absolutely love. I always jump at the chance to work on integrated campaigns (because they’re so fun!) so I was pretty stoked about flexing my directing muscles. We planned out a two-day shoot for early November: one for stills and one for motion. My producer, Brandessa Hale, booked the same Toronto crew from our last shoot and also pulled some great cinematographers for me to review. I selected Dave Woodside, a veteran DoP who’s well-versed in lighting and shooting food. My team was assembled and ready to go.
Pre-production was fairly similar to our initial shoot for Pepperidge Farm except for an added Kitchen Day. Since we were working with a very ambitious schedule, we needed to maximize every minute on set; that meant nailing down our food styling before hand. Food/Props Stylist, Nicole Billark, and I discussed the look for each shot before walking the agency creatives (over Zoom) through the final setups.
Shoot Day: Stills
The second round of PF creative was booked at The Spaces-Geary House, another great space in The Junction neighbourhood of Toronto. Day 1 went very smoothly. We’d all worked together before—crew, creatives and client. Only difference was the number of participants on the live stream grew from 14 to 20. Since we were replicating the same look and feel from the previous shoot, our lighting setup didn’t take much time and even with minor tweaks to compensate for angle changes, we were ahead of schedule the entire day and wrapped an hour early. That gave us plenty of time to organize props and hang visual references for the next day. Win win.
Shoot Day: Motion
We knew going in to Day 2 that we were facing an uphill challenge: 11 motion tabletop shots in a 10-hour day is intense, even for the most organized of productions.
Though we knew early on that OT was in our future, we had the full support of our agency and client to knock out some beautiful work (which we did!) despite the extended schedule. At the end of both days, we had very happy clients. There’s always time to reflect after productions have wrapped, on what could’ve been done better or how things could’ve been tighter (hindsight is 20/20 and all that, amirite?). Every shoot is an opportunity to grow. I can say with sincerity that I’m so thrilled to have worked with my crews, the agency and our clients. Can’t ask for much more than that.
When y’know, y’know. Nicole Billark—my food stylist for both Pepperidge Farm jobs—and I had such a great vibe on set, we naturally decided to collaborate on some creative work before year’s end. Neither of us had holiday-specific work for our books, so what better way to get into the spirit of things than shoot our own little winter wonderland?
Nicole did an amazing job pulling fabrics, tableware and other decorative pieces for our tablescape. We both agreed on doing our feast a bit differently: instead of opting for a grand bird for a lavish dinner, we instead read the quarantine room and kept things small and cozy. Nicole put together a quaint set—complete with glass Xmas trees—we hoped would inspire people to celebrate the holidays differently this year. We also decided to go vegetarian for the entire meal. The main dish was grilled cauliflower steaks with figs, tahini, nuts, citrus and pomegranate. Hello delicious!
Getting Back to My Roots
I have to say…I wasn’t expecting to find my groove in Toronto so quickly. I was surprised, really, given what’s happening right now with the pandemic and how productions were shut down for months in 2020. To arrive back in Toronto after 28 years and be able to do what I love in the city that knew me first, is a blessing. I fully see that and am truly grateful for it. 2021 may feel like a continuation of 2020, but I’m hoping for light, positivity and change for all of us.