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Making Commercials: Man Chases Pig

In a parody of suspenseful chase scenes, a man with a roll of dollars chases a man-shaped pig through Baltimore.

By Michael Fickes

making commercials
A parody of suspenseful television and movie chases,
“Chase” features a man trying desperately to deposit money
into his savings account.

Director Matt Pittroff of Twist Films, New York City and Minneapolis, and Senior Editor Anthony Marinelli of ShootersNYC combined forces to create a public service announcement (PSA) promoting financial literacy for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Advertising Council.

Entitled “Chase,” the PSA included :15, :30, :60 and :90 spots about saving for the future aimed at 25- to 34-year-old young professionals.

A parody of suspenseful television and movie chases, the spot begins with the hero trying on hats in a menswear store; he receives a text message: Savings Balance Low.

Outside, a man-shaped pig – in a pink suit – walks past the window. The hero doesn’t see the pig, but senses a presence and gives chase. What’s going on? We don’t know.

Prepping the shoot

“Anthony and I wanted this chase to be fun, funny, desperate and impactful – but not slapstick,” Pittroff said.
“We reviewed movie chase scenes,” added Marinelli. “We studied the music and sound design.”

Pittroff prepped two ARRI ALEXA cameras for the two-day shoot, selecting Cooke S4 Prime lenses and Optimo long and short zooms. He tapped Andy Lilien as director of photography.

Pittroff also set up some visual effects shots. For instance, the first scene in the menswear store shows the hero in front of a tall window that looks out on a busy city street. It’s a green-screen shot, though, and Mark Farkas of ShootersNYC composited in a street scene from a busier street.

The shoot

Pittroff selected his hometown of Baltimore for the two-day shoot and found a dozen or so locations to stage the chase.

When the hero races out of the store after the pig, we see him picking his way across a street jammed with traffic. Once across, the hero tears through an outdoor cafÈ. The pig is on the other side of the cafÈ, and for the first time, Pittroff shows a kind of slot in his head. It’s a clue for viewers.

The pig hops onto a pink Vespa and rides off. The hero tries to cut him off and races through a restaurant. On the way out, he hurdles a table – with patrons – knocking a dish to the floor.

Too late, the Vespa cruises past the restaurant. The hero follows to a subway station. He would have caught the pig there, but a jammed turnstile stops him cold. Pittroff’s shot shows the hero’s disgusted look.

Racing through a park, the hero vaults over a man posing in an outdoor yoga class. Finally, in a suburban neighborhood, the hero tackles the pig, pulls out a wad of bills, stuffs them into the head slot and gasps, “Same time next week?”

“Of course,” replies the pig.

Oh. It’s a piggy bank, for saving money.

Edit and post

During pre-production, the team commissioned original music designed to build suspense. “Music is key,” he says. “Timing comes from the music.”
Working with PirateNY Sound Designer Dave Rivera, Marinelli also collected ambient sounds from the locations Pittroff was shooting. The sounds and music became the sound design. The music changes from scene to scene, communicating tension from different kinds of suspense movies. You don’t recognize individual movies, but we’ve all seen suspenseful scenes with these kinds of music.

Marinelli also asked the composer to alter pieces of the music at strategic times. For instance, when the hero slams into the jammed turnstile at the subway station, he stops cold and so does the music.

When the hero dives over the guy in the yoga pose in the park, the video slows, and Marinelli cut in an electronic snippet in the style of The Six Million Dollar Man. The collaboration between Pittroff and Marinelli produced numerous such moments throughout the piece. The pig, for instance.
During the shoot, Benjamin Bankes – the spokes-pig – wore a mask. In post, Farkas gave the mask a personality, making the eyes blink and the mouth move – at the climactic ending when the pig indeed speaks.

November 12, 2012