I was shooting a series of ads for Dewars Scotch in Edinburgh, Scotland, and one of the ads featured two men exchanging their secret fly-fishing spots to one another.
We scoured the city for an authentic Scottish pub that fit the layout that had previously been approved by the client…without any luck. It seems that all the old antique wooden bars, tables, and paneling had been bought up by entrepreneurs in the US to use in their new restaurants being built.
We found a room in the back of a boy’s prep school that fit the layout. The only problem was that it was an empty room and needed a lot of help to convert it to a typical Scottish pub. As I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and also my fellow photographers that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind”, if you’re going to use props and set things up (which I always encourage) make it look like you didn’t. It’s gotta look real to the viewer. Right before they click the shutter I have them ask themselves…”Do I believe it?”.
While we were dressing the room, my producer went out on the street to look for a couple of men we could use in the ad. Fairly easy since all the older men could have come straight out of central casting; everyone looked great. We picked out two separate men, total strangers, who agreed to play the role of the two fly-fishermen for a fee of $250.00 each.
I had a 12K HMI (a very large daylight balanced twelve thousand watt motion picture light) outside the window to act as the late afternoon light. To bounce light back into the men, I set up a roll of white seamless paper between us and cut a small hole in it to stick my 20mm lens through. That done, I couldn’t see anything except what I saw in the viewfinder. To make it more realistic and to get the men loosened up we use the real thing…a bottle of Dewars.
We had been shooting for quite a while and every time their glasses looked empty, my assistant would fill them up again. Finally, when I saw their glasses needed to be refilled I mentioned it, whereas I was told that the bottle was empty. They had consumed the entire bottle, drinking it ‘neat’ or in other words without anything mixed in it including ice.
It was over!
The two men, who never laid eyes on one another in their lives, were so drunk that they were laughing and falling over each other…and in a matter of an hour and a half had become close enough to be brothers. In fact, so drunk that they could barely walk and were in no condition to find their way home. It made us so nervous that we renting two private cars to drive each one home.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2016-17 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime and I’ll buy you a drink!
Keep sending in your photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com and I’ll create a video critique for you.