The Making of Mo Squad

Yesterday I posted what I declared to be “the best wedding highlights video ever.” By now you realize that was all just a ruse. It was actually a clever commercial for a mosquito control company.

I am still amazed when people don’t get jokes or satires on my blog. I got a number of comments on Twitter and the blog suggesting that I thought this was a REAL wedding clip. As I’ve mentioned before, if something seems fishy, look to see if a blog post is tagged and/or categorized “Satire.” My expectation was that since I called that post “The Best Wedding Highlights EVER,” that people would take the whole post in context of a joke since it actually was NOT a real wedding highlights. (Another suggestion: if I post a video, read the post before commenting. Don’t just watch the video. And the opposite is true. Don’t just read the post, watch the video too.). Anyway, I apologize if anyone was offended, confused, discouraged, outraged, saddened, frustrated or lost any sleep.

Photos courtesy of Lyon Pictures, Charlotte, NC

My Theory About People Not Getting It

I was wracking my brain yesterday trying to discern why I got so many comments (mostly via Twitter) from people not getting the joke. Then it occurred to me. There are so many creative wedding and concept videos that run with a theme then incorporate that theme into the video, a spoof about mosquitos plaguing a wedding is not that far off from a concept video. Wedding filmmakers like Kevin Shahinian, David Robin and Loyd Calomay are famous for making concept videos that look like thrillers, trailers, sequels, TV spoofs, etc. In light of that, it’s not far-fetched to see this commercial as a real wedding client’s video. If I recall, when the director of this video first shared it with me on Vimeo, I too had to try out the Mo Squad website just to be sure. (How many of you did that before tweeting me? ;) In truth, it’s actually a testament to the level of creativity there is in the wedding world.

Photos courtesy of Lyon Pictures, Charlotte, NC

Now that we’ve got that all straight, today’s post is a guest spot from the director: Michael Crissinger. Enjoy

The Making of Mo Squad

by Michael Crissinger

This project originated like many do – a concept posed as a question: What’s the worst that could happen at a wedding if, A) the event wasn’t pre-treated for mosquitos and B) mosquitos attacked?

The client came to me with about a six page script that depicted in short story form the worst wedding possible complete with the drunk Mother of the Bride and the killer mosquito swarms. When I learned that the desired length of the spot was about 60 seconds and we wanted to shoot it in a day, I knew we’d have to trim some fat from the script. The first things to go were the lines of dialogue and most of the character development. We obviously wanted to communicate as much as possible in the least amount of time. One of the other goals of this project was to try to set it up in a way that it had a chance at going viral. Since we were dealing with a wedding setting, it made sense to open it in a way that felt like a traditional highlight film until the chaos broke loose.

The Shoot

For this spot we had about a month of pre-production and the final product was a roughly 45 second web edit and a 30 second version ready for broadcast. We chose to use the Scarlet rather late in the game. We were considering shooting with the Sony F3 as that was a camera my D.P. had recently used and loved for a project he had just shot which is also worth a look. In the end we went with the Scarlet as it was a good budget choice considering it was owned by our colorist who also was on set as D.I.T. (digital imaging technician). So we worked out a package deal.

We shot everything in 4K and a couple of slow-mo shots in 3K (but none of slow-mo shots made it into the edit.) The camera performed well. All the underwater footage was shot with a Canon 7D with underwater housing. We shot this at the end of the day and I’m really pleased to see how well it blended with the Red footage.

I would say though one of my favorite elements of this project would be the score. Working with Ben Worley on the sound and hearing what he came up with – very pleased with the results. Keep him in mind for sure for your next movie or commercial.

Q & A

I decided to ask Michael a few other questions regarding this shoot. Enjoy!

Have you worked with RED before? If so, how was the Scarlet different?
I’ve not personally shot with a RED camera. In the recent past the projects I’ve produced have required a faster turnaround so I typically shoot with 5D’s and 7D’s.

Photos courtesy of Lyon Pictures, Charlotte, NC

Were there any challenges working with the Scarlet during the shoot or during post?

There really weren’t any major challenges during the shoot or post – related to the camera at least. (We had a mid-afternoon downpour but we were able to shoot inside and break for lunch until the sun came back out). For this spot, I really benefitted by having the camera owner who also graded the spot on set as D.I.T. He managed all the footage and transcoded to ProRes for my edit and then colored in 4K.

What made you decide to go with the Scarlet vs. the F3?
Honestly is was economical. We were able to get a better deal on the Scarlet which allowed me to focus more funds in other areas like renting some great glass and having a crew I could rely on.

Why’d you shoot in 4K?
Shooting in 4K gave us the most latitude and dynamic range to work with in DaVinci Resolve.

What equipment did you use for the fluid motion moves? (Jib? Glidecam? What?)
We used a 4ft PROAIM slider that belonged to my ridiculously talented Gaffer, Brent Christy. Check out his reel! https://vimeo.com/38165242 And for the shot of Susie coming down the stairs we used a 12ft Kessler Crane mounted on a Hercules head. Everything else was on sticks or handheld.

Photos courtesy of Lyon Pictures, Charlotte, NC

Is it my imagination, or does the score have a very “Men In Black” feel to it?
Not your imagination! Ben Worley used Elfman’s score as inspiration for this spot. We wanted to utilize a similar percussion sound to give the mosquitos an extra life. Really pleased with the final product.

What advice can you give others interested in shooting on this platform?
Choose your camera based on the final product. I knew I wanted to have it color graded so I wanted to be sure we shot with a camera that would give us a lot to work with.

Would you shoot a real wedding with a Scarlet?
I wouldn’t. The workflow was not horrible but it does add another step in the process. And when your shooting weddings it’s ideal to be able to move pretty quick to get the shot. And then in post, if you’re shooting a lot of weddings, you have a smaller footprint when it comes to your footage back ups if you go with something smaller like a DSLR.

Photos courtesy of Lyon Pictures, Charlotte, NC

Crew:

  • Director – Michael Crissinger
  • Cinematography – Adam Hobbs
  • VFX – Chris Breeding
  • Color – Jeremy Ball
  • Music – Ben Worley
  • Sound – Josh Linker

Michael Crissinger is a director, cinematographer, and producer based in Charlotte, NC. He produces actual wedding films with his company, Singer Wedding Films and produces commercials and other corporate productions through Double Entendre Pictures. He and his wife Ria are expecting their first child this July and they can’t wait!

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4 Responses to “The Making of Mo Squad”

  1. Interesting post. The confusion yesterday left me confused … how did they not get it?!

    • I’ve learned over the years, no matter how obvious a joke or satire may appear, there will always be some select percentage of people who don’t get it. A great example is the satirical Apple News site Scoopertino.com. They occasionally get comments on their blog posts from people thinking their news stories are real.

  2. I don’t get it. Who’s Mo?

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