One of the things I find missing in work today is TRUST. Trust in using people that will get the job done no matter what. People give up too easily now, usually whining.
Austin, Lou, and Animal were people I could trust in any circumstance. Once, in freezing waters (I know, water doesn’t freeze) Animal jumped into the water to hold an airboat steady so we could get the shot. He also built a spfx rig overnight because the art department fucked up. Lou did the work of two or three men. Once I asked him (during a difficult shoot) why he didn’t have n assistant. He said that he would have to do that person’s work as well. Austin was a rock, always able to deal with any situation. Everybody and I mean everybody loved him, even Riney.
As for another notion of TRUST, we were successful because people trusted us, no matter what. There were number of key ‘works’ that came about because of this trust.
WRECKING BALL was a Nike commercial that Warren Eakins thought of while we were filming a Nike soccer commercial in Brazil. His idea was to have Nike athletes kicking the ball to each other from billboard to billboard across the world. Nike was just entering the soccer world and was finding their way.
Warren asked me how it should be done and I told him I had no idea but let’s figure it out. He sold the idea to Nike and we started to figure out what to do. Filming the athletes was fairly routine. Use a green screen. We would film them at their specialties, but we had to travel the world to get to them, Barcelona, London, Milan, Berlin, Mexico City.
The biggest issue was making the billboards look real. No post house did a test that was convincing. It was just placing the material on the pre-filmed billboards and that’s how it looked. They were all insulted when I would say the work was unconvincing, but this was before I met Quietman. Adam found an unlikely source, Kristen Johnson. Her previous experience was as a television station digital person doing titles and promos in SF. The test she did was fabulous, however, but she could only work on a Paintbox, a very primitive and time consuming system. It took a while but she got the job done.
The spot was a huge success and won a Gold Lion at Cannes and was a frontrunner for the Grand Prix, but none was given that year.
Michael Patti called with an idea for an HBO commercial using chimps in Africa and Jane Goodall.
‘How do we do this?’
‘I have no idea. Let’s just go to see Jane Goodall.’
We faked it and the commercial won an Emmy.
Al called and wanted to do a commercial for GE in Budapest.
‘What’s the idea?’
‘That’s not an idea.’
‘That’s all I got.’
‘Let’s go to Hugary.’
We went to Hungary and bullshitted our way to a good commercial.
A funny sounding agency in Minneapolis wanted me to do a tiny western piece for a show. It was a bunch of cowboys saddling their horses at night. Not much of an idea and not much fun to shoot, especially since I loved the western movies.
I had a better idea after speaking with them, but they had no money, and I mean no money. Since I had filmed in every location and knew all the real cowboys, we did a decent short film. The film won the advertising account for the agency.
Ted sent a script for a heavy special effects spot. I told him that Ridley should do it and he said that I was right, but Ridley wasn’t available, so I was stuck. I told Ted I didn’t know how to do that stuff and Ted said I would learn. I did and the spot won the Grand Prix at Cannes.
There were a lot more, vague notions, not ideas but it was a time when we were trusted. There were great results but some sort of ‘corporate logic’ has taken over and trust is gone.