Nobody Trashes TN | Campaign Launch
This year, we teamed up with Enviromedia and the Tennessee Department of Transportation to bring a fresh, innovative way to stop littering on the highways. The concept: simple. The execution: not so easy. I sat down with the director, Sean Davé, to discuss how he interprets a creative idea, the beauty of practical effects, and what it was like for his first shoot in studio. It’s a miracle we didn’t go off on a tangent and talk about the Star Wars prequels (just kidding, we did, but I didn’t write any of that down).
Q: After you got the creative, what embellishments or stylistic choices did you make to enhance their vision?
When I first saw the creative, my first instinct was to try and make the spot, especially the first half, not jump out and say PSA. When audiences see a PSA, it’s easy for them to check out, mentally. From the get go, the goal was for the front end to be like a lifestyle spot, similar to a car commercial, and then end it as a more absurd spot with the garbage truck smashing through the bedroom wall.
Q: What was the ultimate goal in creating this piece? What did you want audiences to feel?
At the end of the day, it’s a PSA. The message of not littering is still at the forefront, but I think that if you pair that with absurd, memorable visuals then audiences are more inclined to take in the message. When you see the punchline, the visuals stick with you. I mean, we had 6,000 paper and plastic cups that dumped into a bedroom––having that on screen really gets the message across.
Q: How did the practical effects of the wall crash affect your production?
To start off, I love practical effects. I think anyone who grew up watching Star Wars, like me, loves the idea of having something tangible on screen, then going in with CGI to put the icing on the cake. Practical effects are a huge undertaking. We had an actual truck crash through a breakaway wall that dumped 6,000 cups. We had a limited number of takes because we only had a limited number of walls to break through. There was also a considerable reset time, so we had to take into account how long it took to put all the cups back, reset the truck, and get everyone ready for the next go.
Q: What other obstacles presented themselves during the making of the spot?
Not to harp on the practical effects, but it really was a pretty big undertaking to be able to pull it off. Finding, renting a garbage truck, then telling them that you’re going to crash it through a wall is not as easy as it sounds. Securing all of the moving parts we needed was definitely a challenge. Once we found them, the biggest obstacle was time. Once you run the truck through the wall once, it’s not a matter of backing up and doing it again, right away. Dozens of people have to immediately jump in and reset everything. I should also mention that the lighting was affected by the wall coming down––there’s several behind-the-scenes technical considerations. I’d like to give a shout out to all of the people who made this run as smoothly as possible: Melissa Michalak our producer who was able to secure all of the materials, Katie and Brandon at Caravan who built the set and created the practical effects to be destroyed, Joel Robertson who supervised the crash and worked his magic in post, and Chris Adams who did a terrific job with cinematography through all the moving parts.
Q: What was it like to shoot your first spot in a studio setting?
It was so much fun. At the end of the day, it doesn’t change much in the direction. You still have cameras, actors, and lighting. You have to still think about the direction and framing. What it allows is more freedom and control. So it makes you think about what you should do as opposed to what you can do. For instance, we could have brought in a big crane, but for this type of absurd comedy, dolly coverage was the way to go.
Overall I couldn’t be happier with the studio experience. I mean, we couldn’t run a garbage truck through someone’s actual house, so I’d say we needed it!
by Benton Olivares
Moody pics by Drew Bauml