Worked on a great shoot as Script Supervisor this last Saturday for Kashi. As the photos here show, Kashi pulled out all the stops to make their commercial the best it could be. Frankly, I was surprised they shot a TV commercial on 35mm:
The biggest problem doing continuity on commercials is the pace. The day starts out fine with the 1st A.D. highlighting which scenes are the most important for continuity, but then the lighting takes longer than expected, the instructions get garbled, equipment invariably malfunctions and all the while the sun is moving relentlessly forward. Suddenly, you're under the gun and a continuity question has to be answered in 10 seconds rather than 2 minutes, which makes it hard to give the right answer but you do your best and take snapshots of everything. The good news is that continuity usually doesn't matter too much on a commercial, but you can't count on an editor to give you that grace; as the master of continuity, your job is to kill continuity errors before they get in the can.
The catering on this shoot was spectacular. Breakfast included scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit salad... but lunch was astonishing: tri-tip, chicken, sweet corn on the cob, roasted peppers, Portobello mushrooms, wheat rolls, seasoned butter... as I was chowing down these delicacies, I realized that their catering had to be outstanding. This was, after all, a company whose product was nutritional food, and the commercial was about trading in bad food for "stuff that makes you feel good." If they had served McDonald's-type fast food, Kashi would have quickly gained a reputation for hypocrisy. Instead, they implicitly bribed 60+ cast & crew to tout Kashi's gastronomic good will forever. Everything you do is publicity, even if it's off-camera.
The most interesting part of this shoot was filming the product shots at the end of day. The grips and P.A.'s spent many, many hours constructing a black tented studio right there on the grass in Land Park. It's kind of surreal to walk into a black hooded box where at least 10 crew members are already assembled—Director, DP, 1st A.C., 2nd A.C., Production Designer, Gaffer, 2 Grips, Script Super and Client(s)—and feel like you're on a studio lot, but then look down and see grass under your feet. Then you wait while the D.P. makes countless tweaks to get precisely the lighting he wants. As frustrating as it is to wait for the lighting to be "just right", this caliber of filmmaking is motion photography as its finest. Truly, an art form.
Also check out the photos of the cantilevered pulley mounted on the dolly to keep the heavy 35 mm camera hanging in mid-air. That's a clever tool to simulate handheld shots while keeping the weight off the shoulders of the D.P.
Did I mention the temperature got up to 104°? Man, was I happy I brought sunscreen.