P-Rod, 360 Flips, and Doing the Dew.http://www.vimeo.com/12780273
Coming at you via the classic boob tube, the :30 second Mountain Dew spot with Paul Rodriquez featuring Don Pendleton and his Green Label Art can, is the latest commercial project from Evan Dennis and the crew at Shilo. I sat down with Evan and talked shop about thrashing, P-Rod and “Doing the Dew.” Catch the Q&A after the jump.
Sheina: Hello, Evan.
Evan: Hello, Sheina.
Sheina: Can you please state your full name?
Evan: Uh… Evan Owen Dennis. In that specific order.
Sheina: Perfect. Im also going to need your social security number, but will do that later. So, let’s get into it, what’s this skateboarding thing all about?
Evan: I think it was invented back in the day with a piece of wood and wheels. It probably came from roller skates, but now Paul Rodriguez does it.
Sheina: This Paul Rodriguez guy, can you describe him in three and a half words? No more or no less.
Evan: Thats a tough one. He’s young… spiritual… and very very humble.
Sheina: Is “very” the half word?
Evan: Yes, “very” is the half word. But yea, Paul is a very humble guy. Those words don’t really express his natural ability for skateboarding. He’s an extremely talented athlete.
Sheina: Do you have any experience with skateboarding?
Evan: I started skateboarding when I was really young. Around nine or ten years old, I got my first skateboard and just became obsessed with the entire culture behind it. Everything from the graphics, to stickers, to the style of skateboarding, that was basically what my entire youth was about. Even the music associated with skateboarding. There’s so much in that subculture and it’s really where a lot of my early artistic and musical inspiration came from.
Sheina: What was going through your head when you were approached to do this project?
Evan: As soon as I heard what it was for, knowing of who Paul is, I was really excited. I’ve watched him in the X-Games and in competition, and he is one of the best of the best. He has such a great style. I’ve seen the pieces that he’s been featured in, and I knew this would be a great experience to make something really cool. I’ve also seen Don Pendleton’s artwork as well. The idea of collaborating with these two guys and taking all of our work and putting it into this melting pot, then seeing what comes out on the end of it, could be really interesting with all of these talented people.
Sheina: Well, how did it all turn out on the shoot?
Evan: One of the main requirements from the ad agency, was that they wanted Paul skating street spots. And one of the hardest things was to find locations on the street to set up and shoot at, without being kicked out immediately. We had to get permits for the sidewalks but sometimes we weren’t allowed to set up on certain ones. But then Paul would climb up on the ledge, like in the front-side tail-slide shot, and he would just go for it. We always ran a great risk of not being able to shoot in these locations, because it was pretty run-n-gun. A lot of that was fast-paced and a lot of high-energy.
Paul Rodriguez and Evan Owen Dennis.
Sheina: And with Paul, I mean P-Rod…?
Evan: Paul has an awesome ability to overcome the pressure, and that’s why I think he is so great in competition. You see it before he goes and does his tricks, he has a ritual. When he needs to land a trick, he is really amazing at pulling it off, and we were able to be in some of those moments. Everyone was really excited to watch Paul skate. He has a certain aura where you know he’s just going to do it perfectly. He makes the stuff look really easy when it’s so technically difficult. At the park, the trick where he did the switch hard flip down the nine stairs, now that’s an impressive trick to have in your arsenal.
Sheina: So, no stunt doubles were used in this shoot?
Evan: Definitely, not. I don’t think they can find a stunt double that can skate as well as Paul. Unless we were to shoot his next action movie debut.
Sheina: What about injuries? Did anyone get hurt in the process?
Evan: No one was hurt, but maybe some feelings. Just kidding. No, everyone was in really great spirits. From the crew to the agency everyone had a fun time. Shoots like this can be stressful at times, but at the end of the day shooting skateboarding is fun. So, no one got hurt, but just good times.
Sheina: Being all skateboardy and stuff, did you guys venture out and find some random location gems?
Evan: When we were shooting under the freeway in the minivan, Paul’s friend Nigel, who was shooting the behind the scenes footage, was skating around and found a spot at the end of the underpass. It turned into this amazing location to shoot at. It’s actually where the big 360 flip is at the end. The other stuff we found included some great moments of him standing up against the fence, and it was just beautiful. It felt natural, people were skating, having fun, and letting us know of some great locations to shoot at.
Sheina: That’s great that everyone was psyched and contributed to the effort. What was the highlight of this shoot?
DP, Max Goldman.
Evan: There was this one moment with Max Goldman, the DP, and I, where we were shooting at the underpass, and Max wanted to get this moving shot from the van of Paul riding to do this 360 flip in one take. As Paul was skating up, he asked us if he could do a line of tricks for the shot. So, we started rolling and we got this cool line of Paul doing one trick after the next. When we caught the footage, it was so great, but also amazing that he got it in that one take and Max did such an amazing job capturing it.
Sheina: Nice, a one shot, one kill, kind of situation. This entire experience must have been a life changer? Well, for the vibe and ease of the project.
Evan: Every project changes my life in some way. This one allowed me to work with new people, and added to my skill set and knowledge. I left knowing a lot more than what I went in with. Working with a talented DP like Max Goldman was a highlight for me, the guy is a genius behind the camera.
Sheina: Did you guys “Do the Dew?”
Evan: Paul really does drink Mountain Dew when he takes his breaks…
Sheina: This might be his secret to his success then, right?
Evan: I think so…. Actually, definitely.
Sheina: What’s your all-time favorite skateboard trick?
Evan: I think my favorite trick of all time is a perfectly executed 360 flip. Which is one of Paul’s specialities, he has it down to a science.
Sheina: Did you get a chance to show off any of your thrashing skills to the crew?
Evan: I think I skated from one side of the park to the other, without falling. Unfortunately, that didn’t make the final cut.
Sheina: How was it working with art dude Don Pendleton?
Evan: It was great. He supplied us with the artwork and we took it from there. It was up to the team and myself to interpret his work into motion and CG. He’s also featured in the piece painting the canvas. I really wanted to do his artwork justice in motion.
Sheina: What about the music for the spot? How did you select the jam?
Evan: It was sent to us by Dave Hohman the creative director at Tracy Locke. He has a relationship with Stones Throw Records and the track is produced by Oh No. The track is called “The Funk” from the album Ethiopian.
Sheina: And the post-production side of things?
Evan: Post, is the most difficult side of everything, by far. Figuring out how to execute what we wanted to do with the limited amount of time and having a smaller but great team, was pretty rough. Prior to starting any project, I like to do a lot of R&D work with the team and figure out some new techniques that we haven’t done before. I like to take risks and try something new. I also didn’t want Don’s artwork to come out flat in the animation, since it’s already two dimensional. I wanted to extrude it in 3D with depth, lighting, and shading in compositing. As well as to immerse it with Paul’s skating and the environment. So, we figured out a way to extrude it via 3D and it worked out really well. I mean I can’t say enough about my team, they’re so good.
Sheina: I noticed you just said “extrude” a couple of times. What does that mean?
Evan: I actually, don’t even know what that means but it makes me sound smart.
Sheina: Nice! Well, I’ve got one last question for you and it’s probably the most important one of this interview. How dreamy is Paul Rodriguez?
Evan: The camera does no justice to how dreamy he is in person.
The dream boat P-Rod.
Project Title: Mountain Dew
Length: :30 and :15
Debut Date: 6/25/10
Film Location: Filmed in LA
Advertising Agency: Tracy Locke
Creative Director: David Hohman
Art Director: Campbell Hooper
Director of Broadcast Production: Monica Victor
Producer: Kiri Carch
Account Director: Jim Ryan
Senior Account Executive: Andrew Spring
Production Company: Shilo
Director: Evan Dennis
Director of Photography: Max Goldman
Compositing: Gabriel Regentin
2D Animation: Gerald Soto, Helen Kim
CG Lead: Warren Heimall
3D Rigging and Animation: Henning Koczy
Additional 3D Animation: Richard Cayton
3D Modeling: Krzysztof Fus and Jesper Lindborg
3D Tracking: Steven Hill
3D Artist: Eric Xu
Storyboard Artist: Fred Fassberger
Roto Artists: Helen Kim, Adam Grabowski, David Marte
Editor: Eli Mavros
Assistant Editor: Hedia Maron
Producer: Mariya Shikher
Line Producer: Chris Palladino
Head of Production: Julie Shevach
Executive Producer: Tracy Chandler
Telecine: Company 3
Colorist: Tom Poole
Music by Oh No, track title “The Funk”
Sound Design/Mix: Audio Engine
Sound Designer/Mix: Tom Goldblatt
VO Talent: Paul Rodriguez