Biden Time

This is a luxury real estate commercial we had the privilege of filming for Peters & Associates Inc. It was timed to coincide with the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. The mansion is just south of the city in Waxhaw. We were grateful to have had the opportunity to film inside The Presidential Experience which was in town for the convention. It’s not everyday that a replica of the Oval Office and a fuselage decked out as Air Force One comes to town. Those sets really bumped up the production value of this piece. SilverFox Limos of Charlotte had recently purchased a number of brand new 2012 Suburbans which we ended up using for the motorcade. While the President’s real limousine is The Beast, a specially designed Cadillac with 14 inch doors, we settled for a 2012 Lincoln stretch. We attached flags and a magnetic Presidential Seal decal to the back door.

Filming took place over six days with exteriors of the White House shot in DC, a day of filming in Uptown Charlotte for the motorcade scenes, a day for B-roll of Charlotte sights like the Bank of America Stadium, Time Warner Cable Arena and Nascar Hall of Fame. We also shot at Concord Airport which doubled as Charlotte Douglass Airport. Additional clips were filmed at Charlotte Douglass of their tarmac. A day of filming was devoted to the SWAT team scene and the backyard pool party scene at the mansion. The last day of filming was at the Presidential Experience hours before they opened to the public at 7am on the Friday before the convention.

Our actors were great. Julian Ireland played President Obama. He is a current student at CPCC and is known by a lot of people in Charlotte as, “That guy that looks like Obama.” Scott C. Reynolds is a SAG equity actor and did a solid job nailing our stereotypical blue collar Joe Biden character. One issue with Scott however was that his hair was dark red. I had to rotoscope every frame that Biden was in to turn his hair gray/white. That took a day by itself. The security team brought real guns and equipment. I asked a few times if the guns were loaded when they were pointing them at me and my camera. Those guys could be action stars. They nailed every room entrance perfectly. Their blocking was exactly the same every time which made it easy to edit scenes together with matching continuity.

Our good friend, Eric Brown of Picnic Table Productions assisted with this project. Eric is who we use when we do a three person shoot for weddings. We also hire him as our sub if Ash or I are ever sick or injured and cannot attend a wedding we are contracted for. He is easy to communicate with and we both had a great time shooting this project as it was so far out of the norm for both of us. Eric usually edits and shoots for Billy Graham, Lowes and Res Ipsa Productions.

The editing of this project was really exciting because I was under pressure to finish the piece before the convention started. It had to meet the approval of the realty company and the owner of the mansion. I used music from Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech.com. He provides original film score music for a minimal licensing fee. The rest of the audio came from iStockAudio. We licensed all seven of the tracks used for commercial broadcast. The foley, or everyday sound effects, were fun to put together. I do not usually need to add in sound effects for wedding movies. Car door handles opening, footsteps, fountains, splashes, record scratches were all composited together for the backing audio.

My cousin, Todd Hardy, is an aspiring screenwriter and sent a draft for the sketch. I revised and made sure to cram in as many references to recent gaffes by the VP or topical references to things the President has done.

Amir Reza Behdani was the producer for this project. He was the realtor who had the initial idea to do a short film to help promote and sell a luxury home. He reached out to me and we visited the house twice and had a number of meetings throughout the summer. The final result was the week of filming the last week of August and a week of editing leading up to the convention. We hope to do more of these short film/commercials in the future.

While the intention was for the video to go viral, virality is a hard thing to manufacture. We hoped local media would pick up the story, but due to the commercial nature of the video local TV was hesitant to give free press to a realty firm. As it stands we have at least 1500 views on YouTube. During the DNC I was working audio for a town meeting hosted by Chelsea Clinton, Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd of NBC. I gave all of them them copies of Biden Time.

The finished film was shot on a 5D mark ii, a 7D and we used glidetracks, glidecams with vests, lavalier microphones, 24-135mm, 18-135mm, 50mm, 14mm lenses. It was edited in Final Cut Pro 7 and Adobe After Effects.

Here’s the LINK to my Facebook album detailing some of my favorite moments from the shoot.