The time spent in Bastrop at the Roadhouse Restaurant, off Highway 21, can only be described as an exploration into the cowboy's soul. A journey to find that long lost "home on the range." Our experiences were covered in Swiss cheese and cooked to a medium-rare perfection. Leaving for home, we walked into the cascading sun light. Our stomach's were full of Texas goodness and the sunset's glittering glow, off the Roadhouse's metal siding, was forever etched into our hearts, our minds and our Panasonic DVCPRO DV-Tapes.
Commercial production can get tricky. As a filmmaker, one must take into account the client's ideas and ultimate goals and couple that with your own creative vision. On this particular project, we were hired to produce a 30-second promo spot that would be aired in the local movie theater, on an HD monitor next to the concession area. The commercial would run in between upcoming movie trailers and needed to communicate and sell the Roadhouse restaurant without the use of audio.
The Roadhouse gave us some minor criteria as to what they wanted to communicate in the promo spot. They wanted to show the family atmosphere of the restaurant and highlight that they had just been voted "Best Hamburger in Bastrop." With those two things in mind, we decided that it was important to show people what the restaurant looked like from the street. We wanted to make sure that people knew what they were supposed to be looking for when they decided to eat at the Roadhouse. Being that we wanted to feature the exterior of the restaurant at the beginning of the commercial, we decided that shooting at sunset would be the most visually stunning. After talking with Kendra at the Roadhouse, we were able to determine times of the day where the traffic flow was high. This was a necessary evil for us, as we needed a crowded restaurant with customers in it that could reinforce our message of family dining and great food. We were going to need a lot of releases.
Production: The Shoot
Being that we were going to be shooting at one of the busiest times in a crowded restaurant, we thought a skelton crew (Jeff Ray and myself) was the way to work most efficiently. We arrived just before the sun began to fall and set up dolly track in the parking lot and street. When the lighting was right, Jeff got coverage of the Roadhouse exteriors from several different angles. It was important to ephasize how much fun everyone seemed to be having and with live music out on the patio, we wanted to highlight that as well. With only two of us crewing the project, we moved inconpicuously through the restaurant. I walked around (with permission from the restaurant) and informed customers that we were shooting a commercial for the restaurant. They were asked if they wanted to participate and if so, I had them sign a general release for the commercial.
On the back patio, Rick Muir was entertaining the guest's of the Roadhouse. We set up a dolly track alongside the back patio fence and grabbed coverage from several different angles. We had Rick sign a release form and then we moved inside. The interior of the restaurant was crowded with an ecclectic group of people and was perfect for what we wanted to present. Fortunately, there was enough room in the center of the restaurant to run a 12-foot dolly track. We set up the camera and Jeff took as much coverage as we could get. We wanted to capture everyone that had given us permission and then take all the footage into post and figure it out in editing. The advantage of shooting on digital tape as opposed to film. The only problem that we encountered was that people kept looking into the camera, but after a few takes and a little subtle direction, we were able to get enough footage we could use. Now that we had captured the atmosphere and setting of the restaurant, the only thing left was the food. For this, I had been asking customers (as they signed their release) what their favorite meal at the Roadhouse was and why. It turns out that ALL of the food is delicious at the Roadhouse, but we were able to narrow it down to the Mushroom Swiss Burger and the Black Bean Nachos. Kendra brought the food out to the patio where we had set up on a tripod. We were both surprised and impressed at how great the food looked. Jeff grabbed footage from a few different angles and closed with a shot of iced tea and the Roadhouse logo on a glass, nachos in the background. He made sure to get footage of any and all interesting things around and in the restaurant, so that we could use them as cut aways. Now that we were finished, I took of my producer hat, sat down to a patio table, listened to Rick on his guitar and ate a plate of Black Bean Nachos that tasted just as good as the looked. The food was on the house, which made it even better. We would edit later that night.
Post-production: The Edit
When Jeff and I got back to Austin, we put our leftovers in the fridge and vegged out for a while. Nothing is more satisfying than doing absolutely nothing after eating a good meal. We plugged the footage into a monitor and watched through it all. Jeff had a pretty good idea of how he wanted to cut the promo spot together and after seeing the footage again, he was ready to go. We followed our intial plan and transitioned from exterior shots of the restaurant from the street, to shots on the patio, to shots of people enjoying the restaurant inside. Remember, this was going to be showcased in a movie theater concession, where sound was not going to be prominent. That being said, we accompanied our footage with an overlayed text commentary, which further highlights the features of the Roadhouse. In the end, we concepted, shot and edited the promo spot in two days, for a remarkable 48-hour turn around.
-Canon XL2 (M2 adapter on some shots)
-Doorway Dolly and Track (12-feet)