Saturday, May 9, 2015

NFL Pinterest commercial shoot with Hall of Fame Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus and Kristin Cavallari

You may have heard about the NFL Draft, which happened a week ago.  The draft is one of the NFL’s major calendar events, and for the first time since 1964, it was held in Chicago.  Previously, it was held in New York’s Radio City Music Hall.  The NFL was launching it’s Pinterest account in conjunction with this year’s draft, and called upon Hall of Fame player Dick Butkus, who was an intimidating force as alinebacker for the Chicago Bears in the 60’s and early 70’s, as well as reality television star and fashion icon Kristin Cavallari.  Cavallari is married to current Chicago Bears quarterback JayCutler. 

The NFL Pinterest team needed still photographs of Butkus and Cavallari during their commercial shoot, as well as specific posed set-ups that were meant to plug the new site, as well as the tablet that they were using.  I received a shot list a week before the shoot, and discussed the logistics of the shoot with the production team via conference call later that week.  Everything was mapped out with storyboards, so I was able to get a sense of what each shot would look like.  They also mentioned that I should be shooting with sound blimps, which is a standard practice when shooting production stills on any film set (one of these days, I need to do a review of sound blimps).  If you’re unfamiliar with what a sound blimp is, it’s basically an enclosure for your camera, which is heavily padded with foam in order to silence the sound of the shutter.  I’ve shot with several different blimps (aquatech and Jacobson), and I think that they are quite cumbersome, especially if your hands aren’t large.  Anyway, I borrowed two sound blimps from my friends at  Image Group LA, and was good to go!

On the day of the shoot, the call time was 7 am, so I made my way over to a private home in which would serve as the set.  At the time of my arrival, they were dressing the set with Chicago Bears gear, and I made sure to photograph every item as they set it out.  Since this was a private home, the garage was being used as the wardrobe area, as well as the crew’s craft services area.  The owner’s office would be used as Butkus’s green room, and the living room was used as what they call “video village” in the film industry, where the producers generally sit and watch the action unfold, while offering feedback remotely via production assistants walkie-talkies.

The resident dog was interested in what was happening at his home.

The living room was converted into "video village."

I’ve been on a few sets shooting stills for various commercial shoots, and this one was on a tight schedule (shooting finished in only 3 hours), and everybody stayed on schedule.  It was an extremely efficient shoot, and really laid back.  Butkus arrived around 8 and studied his lines in the green room, while Cavallari had arrived at 6 am to get her hair and makeup done.  

Butkus eventually makes his way out of the green room and films an interview with NFL’s pinterest team, then goes over the script with the director.  Once everybody has their lines down, they begin shooting.  

Many different camera angles are shot of the same scene, each with different variations.  The shots are arranged one at a time, and when the director is happy with each variation, he instructs the crew to move on to the next shot, and they shoot the same scene from a different angle.  At the end of the day, I shot some individual photos of Kristin using the tablet, as well as a few general portraits for publicity and distribution.  If you haven't seen the commercial, you can see it here.  

Check out E! Online's story about the shoot here, as well as one from Enstars.

Also, don’t forget to check out the NFL on Pinterest, as well as Kristin's Pins, and Butkus' Board!

A makeup artist gives Dick Butkus a few touch-ups between takes.

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