Commercials are fun, short and well rewarded. I enjoy the chance to try out new ideas and play with the expensive toys. One Sony Playstation commercial I shot cost the same as my first feature film, the commercial lasted 60 seconds, the film 90 minutes.
I have shot commercials on 35mm, 16mm, Super 8, SD & HD Video, a thermal imaging camera and a 35mm stills camera.
I shot a series of 4 commercials for Vodaphone.
We filmed in an extinct volcano, then on Namibia's Skeleton Coast and finally around the Capetown area.
I have always found South African grips to be superb, I think that the military service that all men there had to do, makes them work well as a team.
On one of the commercials, we constructed a camera track 30 feet in the air, using trucks as the main supports. Then we put a crane on it.
Car spots are the Holy Grail of commercials. They are high profile, high budget and highly difficult to break into.
I was fortunate to be able to shoot 3 commercials for Lexus. Normally the 'Pack Shot' of a car is done with a huge blacked out studio with the car standing in a mirror smooth tray of water for the perfect reflection. The Lexus pack shot was set in a small suburban garage. It was quite a challenge to light in a space only slightly bigger than the car itself.
One of the more unusual shoots I worked on was a commercial for Ice Cream shot with a thermal camera.
The shoot took place in the winter and I had the studio doors left open the night before and during the shoot, so that I had a wide spread of temperature to work with. The actors who were only semi clothed suffered a little though.
I changed my job title to Heating Cameraman for this shoot.
I shot Slim Jim commercials for 3 years in a row. We would run the camera at a 25% of it's normal speed. The actor would move at quarter speed as well, when the result is played back at normal speed, you get in sync dialog with manic actors movements.
A Motion Control rig called Cyclops, repeated the same camera move with the actor in different parts of the set. In the final result we had seven versions same actor fighting with himself.