Create a custom package for a senior series with a fresh new fleet of fishermen. Sr. Writer/ Producer and all around awesome creative collaborator, Chris Costa came to us wanting a unique and stylized way to blend show footage with a moody custom shot chess metaphor to communicate the premise of this season: East meets West. North meets South. Old meets New. The lines are drawn but the only thing that matters is the line that’s in the water.
So, you want to sink a practical chess board into the water and show it rising up from the depths? Cool! First step: figure out how to sink a practical chess board and show it rising up from the depths.
Our first call was engineer, Director of Photography and long time collaborator Nick Gardner who not only figures shit out, he loves building new rigs and accepting fun challenges. He was on set when we first called but immediately got to thinking and within a few hours, we received a rudimentary diagram with a list of steps and supplies to make it happen in 24 hours (oh, did I mention that from green light to shoot was 4 days). We began the process of securing the 24mm probe lens, creating this custom rig and ordering just the right chess set (Amazon now thinks I’m Bobby Fischer). Additional props included a plastic pool, dry ice and a spray bottle. Cut to … we are ready to shake and bake.
We spent day one in full prep mode, practicing the move and comparing what we could do practically with the 3D renders we were provided by Nat Geo's Art Director, Jeremy Tate. Trying to achieve the right move, mix of atmosphere, scale of pieces, lighting placement and story (Nick and Heather were the only ones on test day that knew HOW to play chess so they played a quick game for accuracy of piece advancement. No surprise, Nick won). After a day of testing, we felt petty confident that we could achieve all the desired scenes to create a robust package for not only the launch spot but the full campaign including cutdown and topicals.
When we jumped into edit, and after they reviewed all the footage, the ask came in to comp show footage into the custom chess scenes to achieve an even stronger metaphorical story playing between the two worlds. Our lead designer got to work on creating multiple custom scenes that could work with the dark falloff world in which we had shot the custom chess scenes. A final cold monochromatic feeling color grade and moody mix completed the concept and spoke to the cold hard battle these tuna fishermen face every day out on the water.
Did you know that if you drop a marble chess king from one foot or more onto an equally marble chess board, you will behead the king? Good thing it’s not our first rodeo and we had a back up set in tow!