Coach CIdeas are free – Too bad money isn’t.

However, sometimes you get lucky and you get your ideas produced for less scratch than you might think.

Martin Williams’ client, Donatos Pizza wanted to have an innovative TV spot to showcase their affiliation with the Cleveland Browns. Knowing that there wasn’t a lot of money in the hopper, Tom Witkowski and Toby Balai, (the writer and art director) considered penning a spot that would use surveillance cameras or simple lock down shots. Clean, cheap, easy to do.

But as the concept and boards germinated a different, yet equally uncomplicated, idea gained favor; simply shoot a series of quirky vignettes about people with “D’s” that would bloom into a smart reveal. Donatos and everyone loved this new approach, called “D-Fence”.

Coach Crennel helps Stan Prinsen direct the shoot

Then, to everyone’s shock, the already elfen sized budget got dwarfed by 35% percent.

With necessity being the mother of invention, some quick compromises were realized. The only way the spot could be done was to forego film and shoot it on video. Plus, Stan Prinsen (normally a producer) would now double as the director. With nil for a film crew, they would use the cameraman from the Cleveland Browns – a guy who normally shoots press conferences and football action.

Let’s just say that’s a… different discipline.

So off to Cleveland. Which, happily, proved to be a hotbed for the type of character talent needed for the TV spot – a certifiable pearl in a somewhat fallow oyster bed. Things were jelling. Then, on the day before shooting, Coach Crennel, who was slated for a prominent role, was forced to ditch the shoot. That particular wrench facilitated the consideration of body doubles and alternative endings. On a budget.

So, on they shot for 3 straight days covering 15 scenarios with just 2 hours per shot – including travel time. Wrapped up in all of this was a surprise location switch at the stadium, pouring rain, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hit the freak button, the scooter overheated, it rained again, and the “D” on the restaurant didn’t fully come off at first. To top it all off, there was another weekend in Cleveland to get the Coach, who got delayed by five hours. And, of course, it poured again.

The sound design and audio post was a cinch compared to the ordeal of shooting the whole production – even though nearly all the audio from the shoot was replaced with sound effects that we tailored in to match the scene’s feel and perspective. A nice nuance is that the skateboarder’s audio follows perfectly from right to left in sync with the picture. Sorry, we’re geeks – we dig touches like that. Tom Lecher of Echo Boys composed the track that we ultimately slimmed, fattened and twisted to blend with the sound design. Lastly, credit needs to got to voice-over talent Jon Bruno (see our May blog for another spot he did). We brought him into recording studio A here at Babble-On via ISDN Digital Patch from Outlaw Sound in L.A. Jon did a nice job shredding his voice as if he were actually in the Dawg Pound for the final shot. We have no way of knowing for sure but, given his level of dedication, we think he was actually waving a bone in the booth.

Here’s “D-Fence”

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