Clark Public Utilities Commercials

The Assignment

Clark Public Utilities asked us to produce three television commercials that would convey reliability, safety and energy efficiency and feature real employees.

Filming Energy Counselor Spot

The Challenge

Working with non-actors can be a challenge, since employees are sometimes nervous when faced with a camera and a fully equipped production crew.

Our Approach

To help the employees appear more natural in front of the lens, we took a dual approach.

First, we interviewed a lot of employees to find ones who were most comfortable on camera. These interviews were captured on video to give everyone a sense of how it would feel during actual filming and it was evident which people were most relaxed. We were also looking for the most interesting stories to illustrate our key takeaways.

Secondly, once we narrowed the candidates down to three, we developed the scripts based on their interviews, using their own words as much as possible to convey our message.

Finally, we used the same interview approach when filming the finished spots, so it felt to the employee more like talking to another person than like talking to the lens.

Once the scripts were approved, we scouted locations and developed a shot list, planning the visual sequences to illustrate each commercial’s story.

Tommy's close up as lighting machine flashes

Tommy's close up as lighting machine flashes

The Lineman

The most exciting spot was one called “Lineman,” which featured Tommy Jensen and his family. The linemen are the ones who respond when the power goes down and it was interesting to learn that when they’re on duty, they’re on call 24/7, just like a firefighter or a doctor. Linemen get called out in all kinds of bad weather and they deal with dangerous power lines and work tirelessly until all the power is restored.

In the interviews, we learned that Tommy’s favorite moment is when, after hours of working, he gets to flip the switch and restore power. We really wanted to capture that moment on film.

PUD set a fake pole

Turning the lights on for the camera

Erica Erland and the team at Clark Public Utilities went to great lengths to make the shot work. They set up a fake pole with a fake transformer and connected it to the live power lines in front of a couple of houses. The residents had been treated to an evening meal out while we setup the shot.  Tommy was up to the transformer in a cherry picker, and our cameraman was raised from a bucket truck behind him. It took a while to light everything and line up the shot, but as soon as it was dark enough, filming began.

The shot involved Tommy flipping the breaker on the fake transformer to restore power, and as he flipped it, someone from Clark Public Utilities flipped the breaker on the houses below. After quite a few takes, we got the timing perfect. As you can see in the finished shot, Tommy flips the breaker and the power immediately comes on in the houses below.

Outcome

Corporate Communications Manager, Erica Erland was extremely happy with the finished spots.  She said that, “Spykermedia was a pleasure to work with and Simon made the process easy.  She was particularly impressed by the level of planning and professionalism that went into the operation and the quality of Spykermedia’s team.”

The completed spots are airing on Comcast and in theaters locally and you can also watch them on Facebook.