Posted by Glenn Lazzaro for his series “Adventures in Television.”
2000, Hood River Valley, Oregon.
When we arrived in the Hood River Valley in November to shoot an image spot for OLN (now Versus), we had a great DP (Trish Govoni), a great crew, a 35 mm camera package, a bag of props, and a great song idea we hoped to license.
We also had a miniscule shooting budget and almost no cast. In order to save money, we decided to source local cast members as we went.
Wendy McCoy, then VP/marketing for OLN, had asked us to develop ideas for an image campaign for OLN’s 2001 season. With Rob Battles, then creative director at Crossroads Television, I came up with a campaign celebrating the first moment a child realizes his sled or bike can transport them to new, exciting places. We planned to shoot Snowboarding, Skiing, Mountain Biking, Wakeboarding, Skateboarding, Hiking and Kayaking–all cut to Jimi Hendrix’s “Freedom.” We’d have to find all these athletes on location.
We got lucky at Mt. Hood glacier: the local Burton Snowboarding team was practicing there along with the U.S. ski team and the Junior Olympics ski team. They all graciously volunteered to be in the spot. The two boys playing in the snow at the start of the spot are kids whose moms worked in the lodge cafeteria.
When we got to the town of Hood River, it was a different story.
Since we had no budget for casting, my producer Carla Tate and our AD Ann Taylor scoured neighborhood parks looking for volunteers.
Word spread quickly around town that some “strange people” were bothering children in the town. Police showed up to arrest Carla. After we explained what we were doing and showed them our film permits, one of the cops volunteered a neighbor’s kid for the spot. (She’s the little girl hanging out the car window at :16.) We also used crew members whenever we could. Our assistant camera operator can be seen running into the water at :20.
I wanted to use Jimi Hendrix’s “Freedom” for the soundtrack from the very beginning, but when we tried to license the track the record company wanted $80,000. We only had $3,000 in our budget for music. I had met Jimi Hendrix’s father at a Woodstock reunion concert a few years before and he seemed to be a really nice guy, so I suggested that we contact him directly.
We called Jimi’s dad, James Hendrix, explaining that we wanted to use the song but couldn’t afford the high price the record company quoted. We asked if he’d consider allowing us to use it for less. Much less. He was open to the idea, but he asked to see a cut before making a decision. We sent him the cut and waited. When he called us back and said we could have the rights to the song for our paltry $3,000, we were ecstatic. He also said, “I think Jimi would have liked your commercial.”
I could not have been prouder.
Mt Hood Glacier: