Fire and Ice BTS - Abandon Visuals
Abandon Visuals are at it again.
This time they've created a short film on the Lamborghini Huracán called Fire and Ice. Just watch it. DO IT!
Director Jonny Mass and DP Jared Fadel were both so kind as to share some thoughts on their process and how this film came to life.
Jonny Mass - Director
Evan Bourcier: Where did the original idea for Fire and Ice come from?
Jonny Mass: I think like most of my ideas they always start out as something very large and outlandish and I am forced to face reality and come back down to earth. My original idea involved quite a few locations / talent and with this being a self funded project it just wasn’t going to happen. That being said what we’ve created here is far better than the original concept so I am very happy.
EB: What was the goal of the project?
JM: The goal of this project was to utilize all of our resources to create something that would not only get people excited but to showcase our automotive filmmaking abilities. This passion project was very much overkill in every sense of the word from the powerful sound design by Bytheway-May to the beautiful color work by Tyler Roth at Company 3. We accomplished what we set out do which was to make an automotive film that had it all.
EB: What made you want to shoot something like that?
JM:We all needed an automotive spot for our portfolios that checked off all the boxes. We needed to make a film that included aggressive driving shots, clean studio shots, element shots, cutaways, etc. As I had a small break between projects in November I thought about all of the talented people we work with on a day to day basis and all of the equipment we have access to I decided we need to utilize it all and make something badass.
EB: What drove the creative?
JM: Pure passion by everyone that was involved. Everyone that worked on this project is talented beyond belief and we all feed off each other’s passion and motivation to produce work that is bigger than just one person.
EB: What was the process like from initial idea to final script? What were the biggest changes you made?
JM: I built a treatment for everyone building out the story, characters, music, sound design, and visuals which all were dead on to what we ended up producing. From there we built a script that we could base some of the visuals off of, searched for locations, and booked talent. There was about a week and a half between when I finished the treatment to when we began shooting. There were very little changes made as there was no time at all to focus on anything other than pulling everyone together and making this thing come to life.
EB: What were the logistical problems you found?
JM: The only real logistical problem we had was when we showed up to the warehouse location to shoot the car. The managers of the property had promised that they’d move all of the construction equipment out of the location and clean it but when we showed up everything was still there. We ended up just working around it and keeping the shots tighter to hide all of the cranes in the background.
EB: How did you get access to all the toys you needed to make this happen?
JM: We are extremely fortunate to have a lot of connections to awesome people that believe in everything that we are doing. Without the support from all of these people and companies this project would have never been a possibility.
EB: What was the gear list like? ;)
- 6 Weapon Helium 8K’s
- 1 Set of Leica Summicron-Cs
- 1 GSS Gimbal on a Polaris Razr
- 2 Freefly Systems Movi M15s
- 1 Freefly Systems Alta 6
- 20+ Microphones for car audio
EB: Why did you pick the gear you did?
JM: There isn’t much better than the gear we had :)
EB: What was your pre-pro process like?
JM: Time consuming haha. With a project of this scale everything has to be perfectly planned otherwise things will go wrong. We didn’t have much time at all so we worked day and night to make sure everything was lined up and bulletproof. We all sat down and built a timeline for the piece and everything fell in place after that. I used AirBnb for finding locations and we asked around to friends for talent.
EB: What about the production process?
JM: Pure bliss. This was the most fun shoot I’ve ever worked on and everyone absolutely killed it. Every single scene had it’s challenges but everything went smoothly and there wasn’t a single scene that I wasn’t happy with. We shot the film over the course of a few days and everything was pretty relaxed as we had ample time to get everything we needed. The grandpa and young boy scene went better than I had ever expected as the talent was so extremely easy to work with, the element shots were a blast to shoot in our studio, rigging up the car for audio and watching it do runs down the road at 160 MPH was music to our ears, the warehouse shots were super clean, and the running shots in Tahoe were exhilarating to shoot. The only difficult part about the shoot was keeping everybody warm and fueled up!
EB: Any happy or sad accidents on set?
JM: Everything was happy other than the warehouse location being littered with construction equipment. After we’d shoot a few shots we’d check the playback and just freak out at how epic everything was turning out. My favorite part was riding in the Razr with Jared Fadel bouncing ideas back and fourth with Nathan Garofalos (good friend and owner of the GSS gimbal) on the car to car shots. This shoot wouldn’t have been possible without Nathan bringing out all of his insane toys to help us out.
EB: What were your inspirations for the look of this piece?
JM: There were quite a few inspirations for the look of the piece. The Pennzoil spots were spot on and we got a couple ideas from how they shot the driving scenes mostly in regards to the quick cutaways. The sound design in these spots are unreal and something we definitely needed to get dialed for our film.
EB: How did post-production go?
JM: Post-production is always the smoothest part of any project if it’s planned out properly as all of the pieces come together to form a nice puzzle. Having all of the timing planned out ahead of time saves unbelievable amounts of time in post. We shot so much footage that the most time consuming part of post was just picking and choosing the shots that best told the story. We had a locked cut within a week from wrapping the shooting and it took 2 weeks for sound design and color grading.
EB: Who did your sound design? How do you handle communication/direction with them?
JM: Brenden Bytheway did the sound design and Julian Cisneros did the score. I can’t say enough good things about both of them they are so extremely talented and they work so fast it’s insane. Brenden did a ton of testing rigging up cars before he flew out to come shoot with us. When he showed up he had 2 suitcases full of microphones and mounts for the Lamborghini. He rigged up the car and rode in it doing high speed runs for hours (having the time of his life) recording audio. After the shoot we got a cut to him as quickly as possible and he worked on it for 3 weeks going all out. Regarding Julian as always I send over the exact timing of the piece before we even shoot so he can begin on a song. He as well took a few weeks to just focus on making the best possible song and we chatted about the direction in which to keep going in but it's truly his masterpiece.
EB: What was the process like working with Company 3?
JM: Literally seamless. There is a reason they are so highly sought after and are one of the top coloring houses in the world. Tyler Roth’s entire team over there are so organized and fast it’s incredible. When we had an online coloring session with him our jaws dropped to the floor watching him work. I plan on taking all of our projects to Company 3 from this point forward as they bring life to our footage like nothing I’ve ever seen.
EB: What are you hoping people feel when they watch this piece?
JM: I hope people will be excited, inspired, and in awe of how powerful the Lamborghini is racing through the snowy mountain roads. I want people to watch it over and over to digest what they’ve just seen especially in the areas with the super fast cutaways of gasoline swirling and fire shooting through the cylinders. This piece is meant to connect the nostalgic moments of the grandson reading to the young boy to the epic racing scenes the boy is envisioning.
EB: What’s next for you guys?
JM: We are going to continue raising the bar for ourselves and producing content that we are passionate about. If we are able to pull off this project in 1 months time there is no telling what we can pull off in 2-3 months. I’m so proud of our team and everything that we were able to accomplish on such a large scale in such a small time frame.
Jared Fadel - DP
Evan Bourcier: What made you choose the Camera/Lens package you did?
Jared Fadel: Fortunately, Abandon Visuals have their own Red Epic-W Camera package. As for lenses, we did have some options to choose from, but the Leica Summicron C - and Angenieux zoom for the GSS - seemed to be the best fit for this project as they were very clean lenses to highlight the car. The Leicas are consistent throughout all lenses and they offer up some great unique focal lengths, like the 29mm, that was on A camera a lot of the time.
EB: What were your primary lighting tools?
JF: We lit almost every shot that needed light with Quasar Science Tubes. Everything, minus one or two shots. The beautiful thing about the Quasars were they’re lightweight. They don’t need a ballast. They can even be battery powered (from what I heard). Also, the simplicity to change the color temperature from 2K-6K with a dial.
EB: The "studio" car stuff looks hot - how did you light that?
JF: When approaching lighting the car, It was important to know the color of the car. Because depending on the paint and the hue it affects the way light reacts to it. It was a metallic silver, which is a great color to light, as it doesn’t require solely environmental lighting, like black cars do. I could mix both environmental and directional light on it. I also considered the strengths of that Lamborghini’s design. It is all about the lines and sharp edges. I wanted to highlight those with long lights. We lit it with Quasar lights over the edges of the car to pop the lines out, and cast in some nice highlights.
EB: I loved all the Macro fiery stuff when the car starts - how did you shoot that?
JF: We shot fire through a pipe, and I tried a variation with the Quasar lights moving toward the pipe to illuminate the inside. For the fuel, a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar haha. Funny finding inspiration from those nice dinners with your significant other.
EB: What kind of things were you looking for during scouts/pre-pro?
JF: I wasn’t there for the scouts, the locations were already picked out and the times were scheduled. I had images that were sent to me and worked out the technical stuff virtually, which is scary most of the time.
Jonny wanted the two worlds to have stark different feelings, Fire for the Grandpa and grandson. ICE for the Lamborghini in the snowy mountains. That was my palette to work with.
EB: How did you handle camera movement, technically and creatively?
JF: Camera movement played a huge key in the energy of the piece. We wanted a more intimate mood with the Grandson and Grandfather, we were handheld and Movi for that scene. We also ran two cameras on that.
The studio was tripod and Movi. For studio work, it would be ideal to have worked with a dolly and or technocrane. However, there wasn’t a simple dolly around, so the Movi was the second most smooth thing we had.
The running car shots were all done with the GSS system. It was an amazing rig to work with.
EB: For the car stuff, were you doing camera shake practically or in post?
JF: The GSS rig is sooo steady, it is wonderful for clean car shoots. We needed more energy so we had to create shake in post. I gave edward some plates to use of varying intensity of camera shake. He did a great job working that shake.
EB: Any tips for people who haven’t shot cars before? What was the biggest thing you learned on this shoot?
JF: This was all an experiment for us, and the entire crew. I do have to say that I researched a lot, and ran some tests. I studied car spots, and learned from some mentors.
A couple of things I would say:
1. Be sure the car is pristine and detailed. It would be a pain to take out dust on the car in post.
2. Know how to light the certain color of car you are shooting, different colors or shades need to be lit differently.
3. Be sure your lighting is seamless, if you put up a frame you will see wrinkles in the fabric or even see the stands. Know how to work around that.
4. When shooting running shots, choose the right time and right location.
EB: Thanks guys, that's all helpful info!
That's all for now folks! Hopefully this was a helpful peek behind the curtain at how people are producing personal projects on a high level, with a few tips and tricks for your next car spot ;)
What was your favorite part of Fire and Ice?