Every now and then, we’re presented with a storyboard that screams, “We HAVE to produce this!” That’s exactly how we felt when The Manahan Group invited us to bid on the West Virginia Lottery’s holiday commercial.
The spot called for three voice actors, a narrator, four on-camera (human) actors, one cat, one dog and a horse. Yes, a horse. It also called for a location with a first-floor window that the horse could put its head through. The cat and dog had to sit side by side for 2-shots, and then look back “over the shoulder” as the horse delivered its line. And closeups of all three animals were needed for match cuts.
A challenge? Yes. Right up our alley? Tail-yes!
Pulling this off took weeks of prep – including details such as the height of the horse’s head in relation to the window opening, finding a bonded pair of cat and dog and even pre-burnt Christmas cookies.
The “day before Christmas” was spent decorating the tree, blacking out windows and lighting the set. The shoot day itself was a 12-hour day – starting with makeup and wardrobe for the humans and ending with closeups of a cat with attitude. (Is there a cat anywhere without attitude?) That’s a new credential for us – directing a feline!
Then it was off to post-production, where the holiday magic came to life. Stockings were hung in post. A wreath filled an otherwise blank wall. Snowfall fell behind Snowball (really, that was the name of the miniature horse who won the part!). And the interplay of all the side glances from the cast of two-legged and four-legged actors was expertly intercut.
Lot of “story-tailing” to bring this one to the screen! Hope you rank it “purr-fect!”