behind the scenes

Bacardi Halloween

It’s ALIVE!!! Or I guess more appropriate would be “It’s Gone Live”!

This summer we were asked by BBDO NY to create Bacardi Rum’s 2018 Halloween social videos. The direction was loose at first: concept and create two Halloween drink videos, but don’t make stereotypical drink videos. They were looking for mini horror movies with the cocktails incorporated. We were given a mood board of images from classic horror films, two drink recipes, and free range to explore all things creepy while developing scripts to pitch back to BBDO.

Adam and Robin watched countless horror shorts for inspiration as well as scenes from classic movies of the genre, then sat down over a couple dark & stormys and got down to writing. Initially, we concepted and wrote 6 different script outlines for the client and agency to choose from, 3 for the Mojito cocktail and 3 for the Zombie cocktail, covering everything from a possessed machete, to an axe murderer, a seance, even to being chased through a Caribbean jungle by bats. In the end, everyone fell in love with the Mystery VHS tape concept and our nod to The Ring. So much so that we were asked to take that concept and adapt it to both cocktails.

We watched the VHS tape from The Ring again and again, analyzing all the aspects that made it creepy and uncomfortable, while not being overly gory, then funneled all that inspiration into short snippets that nodded to the cocktail ingredients for both the Zombie and the Mojito. Thick red drops falling on white marble next to a knife revealed to be grenadine. Orange peels crawling across a worn table into and around a human skull allude to triple sec. Zombie hands crudely stitching together a Frankensteined lemon-lime called out sweet and sour mix. And the best: two different Bacardi rums flickering as they make their way down a long hallway, like the twins from the Shining.

Once all the scenes for the VHS tape were hammered out, we turned our attention to the room setting. The POV of the films was set as the camera was the viewer who had just received a tape in the mail and starts to watch it in their Caribbean living room. Nick Cabrera turned a stark white corner of our studio into a colorful tropical interior with yellow louvered doors, coral exposed brick and aqua green plaster walls while Nicki Longoria scoured Austin sourcing the perfect furniture and decor elements to finish out the room, including pulling a few items from her own living room.

This production also gave us another chance to work with our favorite Special FX makeup artist Tara Cooper. Tara meticulously created custom zombie fingernails in advance, then on the day of the shoot did a KILLER (pun intended) job creating the perfect zombie hands and face. Seriously, the lady works magic.

When all the filming was done, the footage went to Beast Editorial Austin where Ben Ellis turned our hope of a creepy VHS tape into reality. The grain, the timing, the jump in footage, all of it came out perfect!

We could not be more proud and honored by our team who helped pull this whole production together in record time. Nicki Longoria, Nick Cabrera, Dave Creaney, and Josh Verduzco, you all are amazing and we could not do it without you. Molly Ross and Joao Unzer, thank you for venturing to Austin and allowing us to let our creepy cocktail fantasies run wild. This was one of those special jobs that make us think “I can’t believe people are paying us to do this!” It was too much fun to make.

Here’s some behind the scene shots of things in the making.






“Nobody Trashes Tennessee” Litter Campaign

When EnviroMedia came to us to create type out of litter, our inner Oscar the Grouch sang a little tune (or maybe that was only our assistant Nicki Longoria, she likes to collect junk). There were 3 scenes we had to create: the side of a highway, a convenience store parking lot, and a street complete with tell-tale road stripes. Robin set to work creating the surfaces, while Nicki went out collecting mass amounts of items to use as litter, enlisting various members of her family to save their trash for her to pick up. Once everything was in the house, Robin and Nicki set to work creating the letters from various types of litter. And if anyone out there is jealous of us getting to eat so much candy, know that none of us are little kids, so it was only cool for the first 3 bites and then after that it was borderline gross. Fun fact: Lefty the dog did manage to sneak the first Sno-Ball snack cake off the set when we weren’t looking.



Newsweek International Edition, “Bible Thumpers”

Michael Goesele at Newsweek tapped us for creating this cover for their International edition and we were excited to take on the challenge!

The fun part about bears is that normally you can’t just rent a bear paw, you get to rent a whole bear. Then you get to drive across town with it in the back of a pickup truck and see numerous phones pointed at your truck getting their Instagram post of the day. Meanwhile, Robin got to work creating some killer claw marks, and Adam figured out the best way to shoot this mostly upside down setup. Lefty the dog was inspired by the brave pose of the bear to show off a bit on his own.








Field & Stream “Jam Packed Summer” issue

You know that game where there’s a glass jar full of marbles or whatever and you have to guess how many are in there? Now we know how many outdoor related items can feasibly fit into the back of a full size pickup truck if you do some careful arranging. We set the truck up in the back lot of our studio, and all the props took up all the tables we had inside. Bentley the Dog got to stay indoors until he was ready for his close up.

THANK YOU John Toolan and the rest of the F&S team for having us do this one! It was a beast of a job but super rewarding. Robin is deathly afraid of snakes, but Austin Reptile Service made it 100% bearable. Any if you want to make those amazeballs s’mores, you have to hit up Nicki Longoria to find out what voodoo she did to the bacon before it hit the set. And lastly, we can only pull off complex shots like this cover with the help of Nick Cabrera. Thank you Nick for always figuring out how to make it work, even if what we’re asking you to do is safely anchor a 20′ sail to c-stands in 15-20 mile per hour wind gusts.




Pacific Standard Magazine, “Awakening the Grizzly”

Top five things we learned on this shoot:

  1. We don’t know how to properly pack a car with gear.
  2. Parking tickets in San Francisco cost $30.
  3. There is a point where bear puns stop being funny, but you still make them anyway to get groans from the rest of the crew.
  4. Taxidermy animals can have some great derp faces.
  5. Grizzly bears are super cool, and not only when they’re kept in a giant refrigerated room.

Many thanks to Taylor Le and the rest of the team at Pacific Standard for sending us out to shoot a bear the only way we’d ever like to (with a camera).









Cats & Dogs for Oprah Magazine

When we got asked to create the Oprah “O” out of cats and dogs interacting with each other, we quickly got all of our Ghostbusters quotes out of our system and came up with as many scenarios as we could using model cats and dogs. Some of the cats were less than stellar looking, so our stylist assistant Nicki Longoria got to work with some paint and brushes to bring them to life.

Smoothie for Rachael Ray Magazine

Sometime (well, actually a lot of times) all the things we want going on in a picture just won’t happen at once. So it was with a smoothie image Rachael Ray Magazine asked us to make for an opener page about blenders. The inspiration was an illustration of a maelstrom with houses bobbing around in the water and being sucked into the vortex. They wanted the smoothie to look like the water, and the fruit to look like the houses being sucked down. Awesome idea, great illustration, but this image could not be taken in one capture. There were a few problems we had to solve:

1. The blenders we wanted to use for the outside of the image were not going to give the intense whirl effect we were looking for in the middle.
2. The blenders were also a little too small to be able to throw enough berries and bananas in and get the visual effect of fruit being sucked into the vortex.
3. The magazine wanted a whirl of yogurt to swirl in to the smoothie and be seen all the way down the vortex, but in reality it mixed together quickly.
4. And Lastly, focus was also going to be an issue. To get the whirl sharp from the top of the liquid down to the blades, Adam would need to stack multiple captures. Not so easy when the subject won’t stay still.

To solve for all these we broke down the problems and addressed them in separate images that Adam brought together beautifully. First, we shot the blender we wanted for the outside as a separate plate. Then, Nick hacked apart our Magic Bullet blender, which had the best whirl action of all the blades we tested, and created an oversize blender pitcher using a small bathroom trash can. The Bullet was then plunged into a rheostat so we could control the speed of motor. Next we set up PVC chutes on two corners of the Franken-trash-can-blender so we could pour a smooth and constant stream of yogurt in as it was running. And finally, Adam being the Photoshop wizard that he is, was able to bracket focus and bring together the different depths of the vortex smoothly and seamlessly.

It took quiet a few steps to get to the final image, but the results were well worth it.

And here are a few of the parts and pieces all brought together to make this picture work.



Popular Science Time Issue

The September/October issue of Popular Science is out and we’re once again super honored to be able to say “Hey, we took that picture!”

The outside shape of the watch was actually a composite of two different watches, but the inside “space” part, was actually shot in camera. We spray painted an abstract cosmos on seamless, then spread the gears and planets out over a 10 foot span in front of the background to get the feeling of depth and space.

Beside the cover watch, we also made (and destroyed) a concrete alarm clock that was covered in vines to represent the passage of time. And also got to work with some fun trippy poster art and lava lamps for a feature opener about string theory. The cashier at Half Price books was amused when Robin headed to the register with arm loads of string theory quantum physics books. I think he knew they would never be opened.




Romo Jersey for Texas Monthly

For the September issue of Texas Monthly, TJ Tucker wanted a Tony Romo jersey that looked like it had been through hell. Dried blood, grass stains, plus rips and tears that correlated to injuries the Cowboy’s quarterback has sustained. The jersey they sent us to work with was in pristine condition. Thankfully we have a stylist assistant who was all too happy to help give the jersey a rough and tumble look that was completely organic.


This is Lucy, the best styling assistant on 4 paws.

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