Behind the Scenes – Morningstar Farms

Back in October of 2011, we spent a week shooting on location in Charleston, South Carolina. You might remember the weekly wrap-up that focused more on our travels and adventures after the shoot. A few months have elapsed and now the ads are running, which means we can share about the shoot and dig a little bit deeper as to what goes on while involved an advertising project.

We were shooting for Morningstar Farms, the largest vegetarian food producer in America. A popular vegetarian brand, they focus on meatless options for classic foods, like hamburgers and hot dogs. I’ve gotta admit, they make some tasty stuff too (and I was surprised that we didn’t have any on set for lunch). A few days of travel, scouting, and shooting all went into a successful week – we worked with two excellent creatives from Leo Burnett, an awesome food stylist, and a top-notch local production crew to pull it all off.

My apologies for not having some video footage for this look behind the scenes, or a ton of photos, but I had my hands full making sure our gear was setup and running smoothly. We’ve got plenty to share though, keep reading for some more insight and images from behind the scenes…

Here’s the shot. Well, the shot behind the shot technically. The perfect moment of lounging in a hammock with a delicious veggieburger at dusk on a warm South Carolina day.

Take a step back further than that and everything else comes into view – days of traveling, a day of location scouting to find the exact perfect spot, pre-production meetings, equipment rental, photo assistants, digital techs, food stylists, prop stylists, photo producers, production assistants, and an RV – all in all, just another advertising project.

I find that when it comes to lots of photos out there, it can be kinda crazy when you take a look beyond the frame of the camera and can see behind the scenes. Hopefully the two shots above can illustrate what I’m getting at.

One of the more challenging parts of the shoot was to actually rig the hammock. During our location scout, Chris found the perfect spot to shoot, we calculated where the sun would fall, and mapped out how to position the hammock – the only issue was that there weren’t any trees, especially any that could support a hammock.

The solution? Make our own trees. In this case, we used two heavy duty Super Crank-O-Vator stands (swear I’m not making that up) and about 400lbs of sandbags, along with a few hundred more pounds of production assistants – just to be safe.

We can’t forget about the hero of the image – the burger itself. Above is a shot of Elizabeth Bell, our food stylist for the job, primping and prepping the perfect veggieburger. While the rest of the photo crew and I spent all morning staging and setting up lights, propping up the hammock, and finalizing our shot, Elizabeth worked to make a picture-perfect (no pun intended, seriously) burger. It’s a shame she didn’t make enough to share with the rest of the crew!

There it is, hot off the presses in the February issue of Shape magazine…. not that I read Shape all too frequently, I just heard through the grapevine that it was one of the publications that was running the ad. If you’ve seen it anywhere else, drop a comment and let us know!

Last but not least, anytime there’s an advertising shoot we’ve gotta have our energy drinks. I’ve yet to convince Chris or any of our producers to schedule in some nap time on set.

Thoughts? Questions? Anything I didn’t cover fully? Post them in the comments and we’ll get back to you.

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