“Milan is a beautiful city. It’s a true European working city, very much like Chicago,” said director/DP Michael Neumann of One World Productions.
He recently shot a neo sci-fi style commercial for Italy’s IMITEC home products on a set 60 feet below the surface in Passante Ferroviario, Milan’s high-tech subway system.
“It looked a lot like a wind tunnel, very modern and huge,” said Neumann. “The Milan subway just makes you gasp, puts you in awe.”
A nutshell visual: Three models in custom leather skintight jumpsuits, standing in the vast wind tunnel. “The costumes were right out of ?Kill Bill’?rockin’,” he said.
The action: They grab steam irons and put them to the test on their sexy, statuesque leather-clad selves. Yes, steam irons, the same sort that smooth wrinkles out of clothes.
“The irons in Europe are big things,” said Neumann. “They generate a lot of steam.” Apparently in Italy, even household appliances have sex appeal.
Neumann’s company teamed with Milan’s Haibun Productions on this innovative new campaign. They worked in conjunction with Leo Burnett’s Milan and Rome offices. The spots were conceived under creative director Alessandro Antonini of the Milan office.
As for resources, the equipment and lighting budget for the Milan spot far surpassed Neumann’s expectations.
“When I came up with my lighting scheme, they were like ?no problem.'” He lit the tunnel with sixteen 18K HMIs and four Maxibrutes, running off two generators as well as subway and city power.
“All the tools and equipment we needed were there,” said One World producer Patrick Donnelly. “The hardest challenge we faced was finding ice for craft service.” Italians prefer steamy beverages and generally don’t put ice in soft drinks, he added.
Q: So how does a Chicago production company end up in a wind tunnel in Milan, surrounded by simmering women, hot irons and steamier drinks, with a lighting budget to make King Solomon blush?
A. The Internet.
“Some folks in Leo Burnett-Milan saw my work on Creative Fast Channel,” said Neumann. “We had some creative conversations. They liked what I had to say. They very quickly awarded us the job.”
Neumann took with him Donnelly, Donnelly’s wife Corrina, a wardrobe stylist, and permalance Tim Harmston, art director/props. Donnelly supervised a crew of 40 Milanese.
Neumann’s international legs also helped. One World Productions shoots spots across the globe, from Hong Kong to Vietnam to Thailand, the Caribbean and the Bahamas, South Africa, South America, and Canada, among others.
One World travels precisely and easily, often taking along its camera equipment, which makes it very convenient for international companies wanting to produce spots in remote locations.
Neumann owns an Arriflex 35-3 package that travels with him as needed. He also owns several 16mm packages, most notably an Aaton XTR, a very light Super16 on which he’s shot several documentary-style pieces.
A Chicago native with Czech roots, Neumann was a producer for seven years at the old DMB&B agency before starting One World in 1992. Donnelly joined in 1993, followed by executive producer Margo James a few years later.
They work out of 2,600-sq. ft. of wide open loft space with a full-finish Avid suite.
Happy to “make commercials forever,” Neumann remarked he has no desire to produce a feature. “Features are like giant sculptures, and commercials are like little diamonds.”
In addition to commercials, One World produces music videos, documentaries and business films.
One World Productions is at 815 W. Weed; phone, 312/787-6696. www.oneworldproductions.net.