Lazarus Brewing Breakdown - Part 1 - Pre-Pro
This is the first of a series of blog posts breaking down this project for Lazarus Brewing
Ok, so I'm excited for this. Today I'm going to start doing a COMPLETE breakdown of this project with you, starting with pre-production right on through post. First I must add a disclaimer - if you want more info on the in-depth pre-production process including budgets, script revisions, and my pitching process I have another blog post about that - but it is one of the pieces of content only available to people who pay $15/mo on my Patreon. That money helps support me paying BTS shooters and staying up late writing these blog posts, so it goes directly into you hopefully learning to make more money! If you have any questions about that let me know!
Anyway - on to pre-pro.
So this project started when my producer Denis told me he had connections to a cool brewery that was going to be opening up in Austin, and I immediately asked if they needed any video help. Turns out they did, and after a series of emails, Skype calls, and a number of concept revisions we landed on the idea for this video. We then picked a few days that would work for everyone who needed to be involved, and I booked a flight to Austin.
Once we had nailed down the general concept we started getting our script outlined in Google Docs - the shared file meant that myself, Denis, Christian, and their Creative Director could all easily make revisions and suggest changes to both the visual content and the wording.
Thankfully Lazarus has a very strong creative sensibility to them, so there was no shortage of cool ideas thrown out. We were constantly balancing this idea of being elegant and high class while staying fun and not taking ourselves too seriously. Often my job was just deciding which ideas were most feasible given the resources and time we had available. Our goal was to shoot everything in Austin in a day and a half - within a one-day rental period for our gear. As the script started to get dialed in I worked on creating a simple mood board to make sure everyone was on the same page visually. I make my moodboards using stills I've saved from videos - usually references I like on Vimeo. I have a whole folder on my desktop of stills I can pull to reference different shots or looks.
Denis scouted the locations (He lives in Austin), and sent me videos of all our options for shooting at the brewery.
Once I had seen the space I was able to narrow our shoot into 4 main scenes we needed to accomplish while in Austin - the "interviews" which were totally scripted, the guys brewing in the space, them going over the blueprints and plans, and the party in the space. Thankfully all 4 of these scenes landed in the same space, so we planned to shoot the planning Tuesday afternoon, interviews Tuesday night, brewing Wednesday Morning, and the party Wednesday night. This would allow me to fly in Tuesday morning, pick up our rental gear around 3pm, and head to the location and start shooting.
The general thought process was that we knew Christian's interview was going to be moody, so we'd shoot him at night because we could control lighting easily. We could go over the plans before the interviews because the guys would all be there and it would be an easy intro to being in front of the camera before the interviews. Brewing had to be early in the morning because it takes hours, but worked out for light, and the party was obviously normal party time!
You'll notice in the schedule above there was a block from 8am-12pm Wednesday for a few things - these were all the quick little scenes that we honestly weren't quite sure how to work out. We had made a few calls to churches for the stained glass and gotten a bunch of indifferent responses, we called a few grocery stores about shooting in their beer section and obviously got shut down, and we had some Austin b-roll in the original script that got cut. We ended up solving all those problems once I got to Texas, so you''ll hear all about that in the part 2 post - Production!
This was a slightly unusual shoot for me in that there were obviously a lot of props necessary. 90% of the props were provided by the client - Christian's chair, the books and lamps, the brewing equipment and grains, etc. The only prop we had to figure out was the laser-etched Lazarus glass. I felt strongly about having these available as it was an opportunity for us to slip some more branding into the video, and we ended up using them at the party as well as for the one beauty shot when Matt talks about beer. The glasses were sourced from PubGlasses.com, who are actually based in Austin. They made us 5 glasses with the Lazarus logo Monday morning, which we picked up on the way to get gear.
Props - Again
So there's a funny timeline thing here, which is that I knew we were going to end up shooting some pickups in Massachusetts after our shoot in Austin. We were going to need to shoot some "historical" stuff for when Marcus and Christian talk about Europe, and we were going to have to film the actual Patron Saint glasses a week or two later when the prototypes were ready. I came up with the idea of putting the glasses in a sort of historical shrine, and I contacted my friends at Westerman's Prop Warehouse, who serve all the big feature films in New England. They had tons of old books, bibles, tables, and paintings that we could use for the shoot, so we planned to shoot pickups there once the glasses came in. There wasn't originally any archive footage in the script, but I did have it in the back of my head as a backup plan if our practical historical footage didn't work out.
Once we had a schedule and a script/shotlist I was able to start thinking about gear. I knew we wanted great image quality and the ability to capture slow-motion, so I decided to use the Alexa Mini from LensProToGo. I knew I could fly with my Lenses and a lot of accessories, but I needed to source lighting and grip locally. Some quick googling landed me at Gear Cameras and Lighting as being the best option for those things. I wrote them up a quick list of what I thought we'd need, and they got back to me with a quote super quickly.
I did end up making a couple revisions to the gear list, but once that was in they just needed a quick renter form filled out, copy of my license, and a certificate of insurance which I was able to issue online easily through my insurance.
I then contacted Joe Simon for recommendations on Austin sound ops and grips. Through his recommendation I landed on Richard Hamilton being our soundie and David Atkins being our grip. I had never worked with them before, so sometimes you just have to trust local recommendations. We scheduled them for Tuesday night for the interviews. The rest of the shoot was just myself and Denis, as well as whoever happened to be around from Lazarus.
By now we had final flights booked, script locked, schedule made, locations nailed down, crew scheduled, and gear lined up. All that was left to do was pack the stuff that I was personally bringing, which amounted to 2 checked bags and 2 carry ons - oh how thankful I am for Southwest's baggage policy haha.
After that was the joyful process of sitting and waiting to wake up at some god-forsaken hour to catch that flight to texas so we could move on to PRODUCTION!
I'm aiming to have Part 2 - Production up by Friday - if you follow me @evanbourcier on Instagram or follow ebourcier.com on Facebook you will know as soon as it's up!
If you're interested in getting access to more business content - including the nitty gritty of all this pre-production and all the numbers that go into making this happen - all you have to do is CLICK HERE to go to my Patreon, and pledge $15 or more a month.
What's your usual pre-pro process? How do you manage script revisions with the client?