Damien Drake


[ 00:00:19 ] When I approach commercial work I have to look at it a lot differently than say like a documentary. There’s a lot more at stake right the brand the brand has a certain look a certain color they want a certain feel they want to vote a certain emotion out of what you’re doing. Whereas at doc it’s like a singular subject right. And you have a little bit more leeway with how you shoot a doc kind of thing especially if you’re like a DP 6 IDB indirect so as a DP on a dock you can kind stylize it a bit more and come up with certain ideas but really in a commercial There’s a lot of checks right. You have to go through all the creatives their bosses then you get to go to the account people in the brand. So everyone has to be on the same page. So a lot of communication has to happen. There’s a lot more I would say is a lot more planning doing commercials and also just thinking it through a lot more. Right. Like what if you’re doing a soda can. What’s behind the soda can what colors is the other brand colors. Is that the new soda cans that soda can match. Do they want to flirt with them or do they want the balls. So there’s like so many things you’re not just shooting a soda can it’s like why should the soda cans. And it might seem like it’s just like a product shop but as everyone knows who does commercials sometimes the product shot is like half the day. So there’s a lot more planning. Everything from the creative approach to the look the feel the coloring the actors the wardrobe you know. Are you going to get the right music and get the music cleared. Is that painting clear. Did that artist sign off on that. You know so there’s there’s there’s a lot more to think about when you’re doing commercials when it comes to commercials like every shot matters right. So what are you doing. Doxey you might you know pick up a shot of a pigeon and it might work it might not. It’s like whatever you just kind of get as much in the can as possible when you do commercials usually don’t have that kind of time. Right. So everything’s kind of scheduled with you’re kind of down to the minute. So as far as every shot you know as far as every shot having to get bought off. It’s kind of like you’re focusing a lot more on a frame than you would say shooting a commercial or like a TV show or something like that. Because even though that shot might only be on for two seconds it says a lot about the brand. So if I’m doing like a beer commercial it’s about a beer tasting room. You know that room has to feel like it’s part of that brand right. Because say like a you know a Stella might be a lot different than their natural light. Right. So it’s like really thinking like it’s not just a wide shot it’s like what are the tones. Is it warm. Does it have a lot of years behind the brand. So it’s like really thinking about that you know. And then once you get the ascetic and you do with all the people then you bring in a lighting and you get the lighting down are we doing this moody Is it a bright sunny day.

[ 00:03:01 ] Are we trying to make it dramatic. Are we trying to make people cry or trying to make people laugh and that’s all different kind of life. And then once you get that down then the camera moves come in and or the movie’s going to match the lighting. If I’m doing a dolly shot what changes in the background if I end on that shot is the editor going to take the shot half way through. And now I end with the parking meter rather than the stop sign. Even though in the beginning everyone’s checking off a sign. So it’s like following the shot all the way through and I always think about the edit in commercials where they’re going to cut this. So I was to a lot of the action before the action after and give the editor options.

[ 00:03:33 ] I was like It’s like someone like an editor as just a continuation of the director or the DP really. That’s what it is. They’re taking what you did your baby and like infinity and and so you know getting back to the original answer.

[ 00:03:44 ] Every frame in a commercial matters. So you’re spending a lot more time making sure that everything from the art to the lighting the actor the wardrobe camera moves camera focal length height all of that stuff comes into play.

[ 00:04:04 ] Well working with an it when I work with my editors. OK. Every job is different. Right. So if I’m doing something that’s been storyboarded to death and it’s kind of like it is what it is and they’re just pressing buttons and they might just do a little nuances here and there. They might not come in that early unless we have someone in mind that is like you know creating beast that they want that specific person on the agency side. I’ll have ideas for editors are going to want for certain things. So something like you know something with storyboarded the editor might come in later. And even though it’s been storyboarded I don’t want the I’d rather the editor doesn’t see the boards I want to give the footage and give them a day to do whatever they think it could be because sometimes I’ll come up with something so much more genius and you weren’t thinking it because all you’re thinking about is the hair on the arm on the shop and they’re like it’s about the elbow man and you’re like oh shit. And it’s not real. You know it’s like I love giving that and then all coming back oh you’ve got it totally wrong. Or like wow think that. Or am I just take a little sliver of it but something I just did a thing for the Nets that I directed DPN that’s going to play on their Jumbotron before every game. And it’s very fast paced and it’s very quick. There’s like layers upon layers of footage and stuffs being caught. So I need an editor that knew how to deal with the speed of the car knew how to tell the story of the Campisi without having to see it like in motion because they were like doing all the work and doing all the rendering. So someone who could like see that. So I needed someone who’s like you know rock star right. Then I’ll do something that’s really much more emotional and I’ll need an editor that can really yank on the tears and really let it hang and not be afraid to let a shot just sit there for a minute. So you can see the emotion of the subject right. So every editors kind of different you know get those kids that come out and they want to cut on the little that the camera moved oh I used that as a curtain and they’re focused just on that you know then you get the guys you don’t care what it looks like they’re all story. And so I try to find somewhere in between with most of my stuff. But every job has a different answer just like you get a different director for every kind of job. You know you want to give a guitar.

[ 00:06:17 ] To like Eric Clapton and talent you tell him the chords or GDC but you’re not going to tell him how to play those chords right here or the chords play them in any order you want but you have only these chords. He’ll play something that is going to be so much more beyond what you are able to like tell him.

[ 00:06:33 ] Right because he’s going to play with it. He’s going to play the G first and he’s going to fingerpick the D and then he’s going to see my plate Scott. You know what I mean. So that’s you want the editors there and creative. And then I’ll come in and just push the buttons. So I want to give them leeway for sure. As far as prep goes I mean yeah. Budget I mean budgets are a big part of it. Also the creatives like how crazy are they in our day like so. You know. For better lack of words like frame fucking me on everything that they have to do every single board every single shot.

[ 00:07:04 ] That’s cool. I’m down with that. But then that’s shoots going to go a certain way.

[ 00:07:07 ] I like to prep work I know exactly what I’m shooting what time of day is the lighting the lenses the camera my guys right wardrobe or all that kind of stuff but then I like inboards sure but I like to get in there and I usually change it all.

[ 00:07:22 ] I’ll see something that’s so much better. But I usually get everything that everyone wanted and then let her decide in the end. But I overshoe It’s just like kind of what I do just because I like options.

[ 00:07:34 ] I want to get the audience in Charlotte tennis ball shit like it was a dog food commercial bubble. But the tennis ball rolling by itself would have a great and you know so I’ll take my time. Just people that why machine that has nothing to do with it. I’m like well it could. Maybe the editors see something different than you know. So getting back to prep. Yeah I prepped everything but budget budget time frame when we have to deliver where we’re shooting who we’re shooting all that stuff comes into play.

[ 00:07:58 ] I mean every job is different but prepping. Sure that’s.

[ 00:08:03 ] A huge part.

[ 00:08:11 ] I can work really fast. So bang it’s stuff out. I still deliver which is an I level. They want it delivered. So I kind of like that stuff sometimes it’s like. It just to be honest. But you know. In this area you know like OK.

[ 00:08:27 ] I saw it all change right like when I started there was no five these you know it was like the D.V. X came out five years into my career. But they were like 24. It looks like a film like shooting on cards. People are like What are you talking about. You know first card for the HP except for gags on it. And then they had like some storage store drive or whatever that was image store. And you know even the footage was on it and you know it’s come a long way. But now anyone can go out and buy a five day put it on a slide or get a guy who has a couple of lights. Shoot something like wow that looks great. Now I am looking for people. When you see their handheld stuff let me see the handheld where they have to react and make a decision in no time. And that’s how I start to judge who I use. You know because anyone can put these days can do that. Well the market saturated. Right. So there’s a lot more people doing what we do. There’s a lot more avenues for it. I mean I shot the first stuff when cell phone footage started happening. I was working for my GI as a freelancer director DP at the time and we did the first videos that were on cell phones. And I did nothing like 20 and we did like Sprint we did like A-Kon Rehana Umbrello and that’s not that’s when that was happening.

[ 00:09:34 ] Stuff like that Sundance 50 cent that you amaze would whatever look all this content. People are like what’s content what is that. You know now Pontin’s king right. So it’s kind of like I seen it all happening and I’ve been in there doing it because when I a brushing up we were one stop shop.

[ 00:09:51 ] We were that and no one wanted to be called that at that time. It was like that was like they’re not there kids right. And now it’s like that’s what everyone wants and it’s like we were ahead of the curve.

[ 00:10:00 ] It’s really funny to see it now come together. I mean it is really funny to be honest with you because people were not looking for a one stop shop and say sure but you know it’s a 360 approach for everything now. Right. So you have the VR component you have the digital component on your cell phones the mobile component you have the stuff that lives. Right. And then you have the stuff that’s on TV. Then you have the stuff that might be maybe on a big screen. So for something really to hit home in the commercial world and they really want to make a stamp on it they’ll usually hit all those things. And so you know for me I’m cool to do any of that. Honestly I’d rather have the big spot put some of the social stuff I’ve done it this morning and it’s been just as cool. It’s paid just as well and it’s been a little bit more easier to do. I’m sick if people breathing on your neck. They go digital. I’m like oh OK. And you come back with something like wow that should be the spot. OK.

[ 00:10:51 ] You know maybe it helps when everyone’s not there you know with that. But you know the market’s actually a lot more saturated now there’s a lot more space for it. You know with Netflix Amazon Prime Hulu Internet phone computer I mean I think the average person is even watched most the TV on TV anymore. So there’s a lot more vehicles for everything which means there’s a lot more people wanting to pay for content. Which means there’s a lot more people that are willing to do it. So.

[ 00:11:20 ] How do I feel about it all. Yeah I want the Super Bowl commercial sure but am I happy getting the $100000 Internet thing. And it’s going to be just as cool. I’m going to get something out of it. Yes. I mean it’s cool. I don’t. I don’t judge what I do on where it’s going to live.

[ 00:11:36 ] I judge what I do on how I’m going to do it what am I going to get out of it what does that people do if we’re going to get out of it. It’s going to build relationships. We’ll get them a real life to get paid. I mean you know all this stuff. You know one thing for me is like I love what I do. So like if I’m a doc in Africa or I’m shooting a spot for the NFL it’s like it’s all good every day is different and meeting new people new experiences and you know I like to give it my best every time. So really whether it’s a small job or a big job it doesn’t matter for me. And obviously the money’s better on the bigger job.

[ 00:12:16 ] When I first started there wasn’t that the idea. Right. And then you know the car the camera started coming out where you’re shooting on cards right. So then you’d have someone who would just like dump footage right drag and drop. And that was like what people don’t even call a media manager first right. And then it started to grow and then all of a sudden you’re getting bigger files bigger cameras that big or you start shooting on cards and this red camera comes along the Panasonic’s. So it started to change and evolve and then as it even progressed more then people started bringing like the wheels out on set. And and really diving into the metadata and diving into like that we’re shooting information. Like what you’re seeing isn’t really what you’re getting as much a once in Ozen information. And once that started to click I think people start to realize that while maybe we should have someone who was not just a kid dragging and dropping files. So for me the I.T. role has really evolved over the years and it’s come to the forefront that we’re shooting digital right. And I like to have my D.A. on board for many reasons. One they’re watching my back right. Something’s not right they’re going to come up and whisper in my ear and tell me to if I’m doing something that’s like an HDR X on a red or some sort of high speed speed ramping on comp being on putting digital stuff in and or maybe I’m shooting at a little dark but at a 200 ISO so I can have the colors a lot more richer when I bring them up I have a lot more room on the top. I have my DMC on set to show me exactly what I’m trying to do so I can show the agency right in and make it feel a lot more at ease. Know what they’re getting. And it also just helps speed up the process when we get into post and for color correct. So like I said I looked down and said what I was thinking some ideas and then by the time the color correct gets it they’re already on their way. And now we’re fine tuning and we’re really getting creative and really playing with stuff rather than like. All right let’s get a look.

[ 00:14:11 ] It’s like no we already kind of had that vision. You know you didn’t. Think you wouldn’t have someone on set. Loading your film camera. If they didn’t know what they were doing right. Like you need a pro who is the first. Seems like dials in. Right. Doing it with his eyes closed the whole time. And the whole thing. So why wouldn’t you have someone who’s dialed into the metadata and information technology doing the digital stuff. And it seems like it’s a no brainer. And a lot of times you know you hear people that do really need to get there. It’s like we’re shooting Red aka And like I’m cropping in images now I want that done on set so that they don’t get to the edit and I’m living with these watch that’s good right. Everyone shoots AK 6K for Cain anti-phishing tenants pay rent and then I know I’m cropping it I just don’t know how much I really want to cropping it because of the movement and then it gets to and I see the final and I’m like what did that was and. Like oh it looks great. I’m like yeah it looks great but it was supposed to be in here because the next shot’s wider. So it’s kind of like using the DHC for my benefit. For the agencies. They can see but also they bring the creative flow to the team. They’re like hey why don’t you try this. What about if we told it like this. What if we pushed the ISO here and put a little green in and I get to try all that stuff while I’m doing it. The deal is great also for testing. If I want to test if there’s flicker here if I were a test what that movement looks like if I want to keep something in. I’m going to see what my map looks like. You know I can do that. I could pound a shot off for five seconds. Boom get it to him it’s up and rockin and I’m doing it like in three minutes. You know a lot of people say that DOHC onset might slow it down if the DP is like working with them and talking with them. I mean I strongly disagree. I mean the same thing is me going over to the agency and talking about what I’m doing now I just get the shot. Like the reason why this is six stops dark is because I’m doing HDR X. So we can meld it. So the inside and outs match. So the outside it’s not blown out because I don’t have a 10K on this person’s face you know like they don’t understand that sometimes they hear the lingo and they like to throw in the lingo. But I mean this is what we do every day. And the D.A. that’s what he does every day. So if he’s telling me like my is a little off you know I’m going to listen to him because that’s what he does he’s staring at that thing all day. You know so I think it’s the D.A. is a vital role on set. It’s a continuation of the whole thing just like if there is a cause for it I like that my editor Onsen.

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