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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Carabotta

McDowell Homes' First TV Spot

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

It was chilly Cleveland afternoon when we received a frantic phone call from Chaz, the CMO of McDowell Homes, in late January. "We're going to do a TV commercial, and we needed it yesterday!" he said, with a panic underpinning his voice. As he continued relaying the details, we quickly realized he wasn't kidding-- the team had purchased a large amount of airtime for the following week, and they had no video to deliver to the TV station. "Let's meet tomorrow," we responded, parsing through the complexity of the conversation we'd just had in the back of our minds.

From the moment we hung up the phone, we knew we were going to be on a non-stop, 10 day marathon of video production. The concept and script were solidified at our meeting the following day, and the budget was approved one day later. We immediately went into pre-production mode over the weekend and started assembling the crew, scouting the locations, testing visual effects concepts, determining equipment needs, and scheduling the shoot day down to the minute. All in all, we knew we had 10 visual effects shots out of the 13 total shots that would compose the TV spot, which is no easy feat, even when you have plenty of time to plan. And even more daunting, we had to produce 15 and 30 second versions, meaning there would be no forgiveness on timing, and even the slightest mistake could jeopardize their first brand story. It was crucial that our entire team was on the same page going into the shoot, and we spent a lot of time those first few days ensuring that the production and post-production teams were perfectly in sync.

The shoot date arrived six days after our first conversation with Chaz, and the team showed up in brilliant fashion. The actual real estate agents that McDowell provided in lieu of actors quickly learned the ropes, and started delivering consistent performances after their first few takes. We marched through the day with the help of our detailed shot list and schedule, which ensured that every line of dialogue, background plate, and VFX gag were accounted for. We filmed at two locations over 10 hours-- a suburban house, and the Mentor McDowell Homes offices. And best of all, to the delight of both the cast and crew, we ended up wrapping the day 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

With production completed, there was still no time to catch our breath-- the heavy lifting was about to begin. First, we created an assembly edit, so that our VFX artist could determine the timing of each shot. From there, the team started cranking away at the post-production process. Within three days, the team had locked the edit, completed all the VFX shots, sound designed the entire piece, and completed the color grade on both the 15 and 30 second versions of the TV spot. Both versions were approved by the client shortly after, and the spots were uploaded to the TV Station in the knick of time.

McDowell Homes was so thrilled with their new TV spot that they planned a release party for their entire team, and were kind enough to invite our team along as well. In addition to airing the TV spot at the release party, we secretly assembled a behind the scenes (BTS) video to surprise them with. Needless to say, everyone at McDowell absolutely loved watching the commercial production process unfold in the BTS video, and had a few good laughs at their coworkers' outtakes as well!

Check out the BTS video below!



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