Posted by Glenn Lazzaro for his series “Adventures in Television.”
2010. Los Angeles.
When Steph Sebag, owner & creative director at BPG, called and asked if I wanted to direct a spot he wrote for the 2010 TeenNick “Halo Awards,” I jumped at the chance. The spot, cut to Beyonce’s “Halo,” would showcase all the great things teens around the globe were doing to “change their world.” Steph’s idea was to create different tableaus using a series of movable sets that changed from one into another in one continuous “flow,” without using any cuts. The sets would be like giant “transformers” with movable walls and floors on rollers and tracks. Teen cast-members acting as stagehands would physically move the sets on cue and thereby change the world of someone in need.
The “flow” went like this: An outdoor city street would transform into a mailroom; we would travel through a door and find ourselves at a devastated house in Haiti; the destroyed house would morph into a brand new home; the house would rotate to reveal a market in Mumbai; the market would split open to reveal a classroom; the camera would pan across the classroom and enter a bedroom; the bedroom walls would split to reveal a basketball court; the camera would follow a basketball up to the sky and then down to a beach.
For safety’s sake, art director Andrew Trosman had to build sets strong enough to support up to 12 people at a time. This made them very, very heavy. So heavy in fact that on our shoot day, our teen cast-members couldn’t move them on their own. In the spot it looks like the teens are moving these huge sets by themselves, but in reality lots of people off camera were helping: the grips, the electrics, Steph, and me. Even David Chustz, then VP of Brand Communication for TeenNick, and his producer Matthew Perreault spent most of their day hidden, helping the teens move the sets.
In the end, we got the whole thing shot in one long, long day and the spot won a Promax Silver Award.
Bonus: An early crude storyboard I did.