This is a short catalog of our roughly 20 hour Quest for Crunch commercial from beginning to end so if any one ever asks you to do a Doritos Commercial in the desert you tell them no. Under no uncertain terms will you drive 3 hours out into the desert; no you will not try to do this with 15 people, a mini excavator, only a $4,000 budget two weeks before the submission date. What? You mean I can win a chance to work with Zack Snyder? It pays out a million dollars that I get to split with my CEO? Well...when you say it like that...here is how we tried it all and didn't make it to anyways.
15 Person Cargo Van from Alamo (LAX). I did not know this before but apparently there aren't many 15 person cargo vans available for rent so if you need one you're going to have to drop by a major airport hub. They run about $100 a day depending on what day you need it that is if you can get it at all. We had to settle for a 12 person cargo van and an Accord.
Call Time. We had our entire crew meet up in Westminster at 4AM to start our 3 hours drive up to Landers. Most of us looked like Curtis (pictured below) but we had our 3 department heads in the Accord working on finalizing the shot list and cleaning up the schedule for our long shoot.
On Site. We got on site around 7AM after an unexpected detour and Kurtis got on the Mini Excavator and we switched the controls back to the normal CASE configuration and started to dig the hole they were going to dig me out of and drop me back into.
First Shot. After about 30 minutes of paperwork with the on site contacts we were underway. First shot, a wide of Sonny throwing out all the buried treasure. David divided up the shots into shots that could be made with the same lighting and camera position so we were able to cycle through shots efficiently (ea. we had a wide shot of Sonny throwing treasures out, a wide of me being pulled up by the mini excavator and a wide of the mini ex slowly making it's way towards the hole)
One of the things we learned from filming in the desert is that the camera you are shooting on will get battered hard if you don't protect it. Some of our later shots came in the afternoon after we dug a hole so the wind was billowing through the hole into the RED's camera sensor. It took us a few minutes each time to clean the camera after a lens change so if you can avoid filming in the desert in the after noon I would.
Lunch: About 9 hours into our shoot we had our second meal provided to us by Whitehorse Ranch. Mac n Cheese, Grilled Chicken, Beans, and Pie.
Back to work.When the sun is at it's highest point it and starts to set it likes to make these harsh shadows across peoples faces. In order to counteract that we have an 8x8 muslin that helps us diffuse the light. The muslin acts like a shade that evenly distributes the light across the hole. One fo the issues you will run into with a muslin is it cuts down the available light so you're going to want a lens that can compensate for having less light. It's a little small as far as muslin's go but it's a good thing it was small because when the wind picked up not even our 40 lb bags could hold it down.
Wrap. We took our last shot at around 5 PM because we needed a shot of the sun falling behind the mountains. Luckily, because of daylight savings time we were able to squeeze out another hour of light. You won't see it in the commercial we submitted because we took it out but here is a picture I took on my 6D (above). After this shot we realized that one of our actors Kurtis had lost his keys out in the desert. So we all lined up and searched his car and the dark dark desert diligently only to later realize 2 hours into the search that it was in his lunch box.
Home. It took us about 3 hours to get back from Landers and another 2 hours for me to get the car back to LAX. Unfortunately I got back a little late but the worker at Alamo let me slide with after I bribed him with some mac n cheese and chicken.
We didn't have Betty White, but...well we can't all have Betty White.