Explore produces direct-to-brand creative for ‘We Can Help’

Creative production company Explore recently produced a commercial campaign for 1st Source Bank which aired during the 2021 Olympic Games, broadcast on the NBC network from Tokyo, Japan. 

The spots were unique because they were contracted directly between the production company and the brand, but still exhibited an agency-level feel from both messaging, creativity, and cinematic appeal.

The “We Can Help” campaign was over a year in the writing & refining. The idea was initiated in March of 2020, but the global pandemic put the project on hold until summer 2021. Working directly with 1st Source Bank’s VP, Marketing Director Andrea Bullock and in-house creative director, Michael Murphy, Explore brought on Chicago veteran writer Larry Liss and director Jeremy Pinckert to hone the concept and develop the final script.

Conceptual scenes were chosen just two weeks before filming, and final scripting was approved only a few days before the two-day shoot began in mid-July. Offline and finishing were also completed through Explore’s post production segment in one very full week, just in time to air during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

Producer Damian Huck was able to put together a cast of crew, vendors, and talent who were all based in the Chicago area. David O’Connor and his team at O’Connor Casting were able to bring together a large selection of talent to choose from for 9 roles, and amazingly the talent were all cast from 9 different local talent agencies.

Cinematographer Bjorn Amundsen and his lighting department added a sense of faux dramatic style to the comedic scenes, juxtaposing them with the crisp, straightforward scenes with actor Jermaine Bell, the 1st Source Bank spokesperson. Quick dolly moves were mapped out by Director Jeremy Pinckert for each character, with the Cinemagic Revolution lens system being used to create revolving dolly moves in two distinct scenes.

Art director Chris Carini and Wardrobe Stylist Tinna Sullivan worked with Pinckert to create unique sets & looks that accentuated the mood he wanted in each particular situation. The production was shot entirely on location in Indiana with location support & equipment provided by Chicagoland Rental, Essanay Studio and Keslow Camera.


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Post-production under a one-week deadline was led by editor Jeff Nolan of Nolan Collaborative. Rick Such of Earshot Audiopost mixed the audio and added essential dimension to the commercials with his sound design. The color correction was designed to be a character in itself and Ron Sudul, formerly of Nice Shoes and working from the newly launched Ron Sudul Color studios, created lush, cinematic images for all 9 scenes. Finishing, compositing and FX were also provided by Nolan Collaborative, who were able to guide both the :60 and the :30 spots to air in time for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

Jeremy Pinckert, Director of “We Can Help” and founder of Explore, says, “We are so grateful to Andrea and Michael at 1st Source for having the vision to know exactly the goals they wanted to achieve with this campaign, and the trust in our team to execute the live action storytelling from a really great script. We have had many experiences producing conceptual spots directly for brands, and the parts we really enjoy most are how rewarding the partnerships tend to be. Relationships can be built over the course of multiple projects and we can work side by side with the brand to achieve their goals for commercials and content.”


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