The testimonials, the reactions, the attitudes and the feelings of the participants had to be and look real, sincere and candid.
We knew from the beginning that no reality based project can survive if there is the smallest hint of falseness any shot or line.
This was the challenge for this project! Telling large stories. Stories that everyone could feel emotionally a part of. Stories that are immersed and then soaked in real life. real situations. Unique and compelling stories capable of holding the viewers as participants of them.
At the same time we wanted to give beauty to the images through the use of deep focus and long lenses in combination with cameras with large sensors. Since commutes normally happen in the morning and evening hours, we decided to reflect that in the storytelling. The stories should be about those hours: These had to be the leading motives in terms of aesthetics.
We agreed with the agency that we needed to make the viewers feel the commute as their own, and for that reason, we had to use all the codes we could in the most impressionistic way. This would allow us to create memorable images that could stay with our viewers because, despite being absolutely quotidian and real, they had symbolic meanings. With this objective we focused our attention on capturing those little details that could have changed from one city to the next and from one route to another but that all conveyed the sense of a specific hour of the day and a specific feeling.
The shoot of the project was organized in two phases. In the first one, that took place in Miami, Los Angeles and Dallas, Massimo Martinotti, the director of the commercials, accompanied 12 participants while they drove their own cars in their daily commute and engaged them in a conversation.
His job as a director was to make them talk about what the commute means for their lives, their social connections, family relations and economy. During the ride, the director operated a light camera using a wide to mid size lens while in the back seat another cameraman shot with a much longer lens,catching details of the interior of the car as well as images of the route: street signals, bridges, landmarks, traffic, buildings, trees, reflections, etc. We had two additional teams composed of a driver and a cameraman following the cars of the participants and shooting the drive from different angles.
We also had one additional time-lapse second unit shooting exclusively this type of images. This unit was moving autonomously to be able to shoot the sequences at the proper time of the day or night.
When the first phase was completed, we pre-edited the footage putting together tentative rough cuts of the first section of the commercials. This allowed us to select the 10 people we will shoot in the Second Phase and determine how to organize the operation.
In this second phase our participants drove a 2012 Camry during their commute and the entire sequence was shot with hidden cameras: Some disguised inside the Camry, some hidden in other vehicles driving unnoticed close to the it.
The Camry was rigged with 4 perfectly hidden cameras set in different parts of the interior. Since our characters was supposed to spend a long stretch of time alone in the Camry and would logically examine every feature of the vehicle, the disguise of the camera had to be absolutely perfect: In no way the participants should be able to notice the lenses, the cables and the connections. All the recording systems and support gear had to be build into the interior areas of the trunk, while still leaving a the true trunk space available.
A wireless transmission system sent the video and audio signal to the motorcade composed of 5 vehicles that followed the Camry allowing us to monitor what happened in the car and the function of the hidden cameras.