Drinking on the Job

Sep 21, 2017 by Mike


There are beer commercials, and then there are Beer Commercials. This story follows that latter of the two.

Right after our first Blizzcon (2015), we got the opportunity to work with Redtail Media and Brew Dog Breweries for a commercial for their beer: the Punk IPA. It was one of those "right place, right time" moments, and we jumped at the opportunity to be in a real Hollywood production! I offered to shoot and edit behind the scenes because, why not?

Day 1

Like all productions, the call time was well before dawn in Pasadena, CA. The location: an old bar that looked familiar... because it was the same divey bar from Pulp Fiction. First things first, Stacey had to get punked, so off to the local public restroom with the makeup artist to get dolled down and tattooed up. This is a professional set, lest we forget.

The concept was a tough-as-nails punk chick enters the bar, orders a beer, tastes it, hates it, smashes it against the wall (in slow motion) and then, magically, the beer gets better as it rematerializes and then flies back into her hand. Pretty damn cool. 

The first shots were just before sunrise to get that cool look, and then the production moved inside the bar. Surprisingly (I don't know why "surprisingly"), most of the commercial was shot in order. The day went without issue, the shots were beautiful and everyone seemed pretty happy with how things went. What could possibly go wrong tomorrow?

Day 2

The fun day. The smash-beer-bottles-in-slow-motion-all-day day. The production team had commissioned a brick wall made that looks like a wall in the bar, except is designed to lay on the ground for easier bottle smashing. Today was a good day.

And when in Hollywood, one does not simply shoot in slow-motion. They used a Phantom Camera capable of 20,000 frames per second. Absolutely insanely cool! When shooting at that frame rate, a TON of light is required to supplement the camera's sensor, so some huge lights were brought to light the scene. They were so bright that poor Stacey in the middle of them was melting, even though they were 15-20' away from her. To be fair, everyone was melting, as the temperature in the room continued to rise throughout the day.

Everything was going brilliantly until, on the very last shot of the day... the fire alarm was triggered and the sprinklers were unleashed! Hundreds of gallons of water poured from the ceiling, soaking everything from cameras to lights to beer and more. Several crew members dived to protect the $200,000 camera, others for the various computer equipment running off of it.  

Being the dedicated individual that I am, I continued rolling my camera, capturing the disaster as it unfolded. I felt awful about it, I could see some people annoyed by it... but I know, and they knew: the footage was gold.

This won't be the last time we work with Redtail Media, and this won't be the last time a fire alarm ruins a shot. What a great experience. Check out Redtail's cut of the commercial.