Society Director Martin goes BTS of Uncle Ben’s spot

(Connor Martin shoots Special Guests)

Typically, it takes around 20 minutes or so to cook up Uncle Ben’s Rice. And even more so, it usually takes around a month to prep, produce and post a :30-second spot. That said Energy BBDO and director Connor Martin of LA-based production company Society, repped by Nikki Weiss and company, have metaphorically cooked this new Uncle Ben’s spot by microwaving the entire process.

In five days.

Titled, Special Guests,” the spot, directed by Connor Martin, revolves around a dad and daughter’s routine at home, navigating a new normal and showing how food and the emotional connections we make during dinner can bridge the physical distance all families are feeling.  Watch below:


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Wonderful spot. Made in five days.

Society has now released a new behind the scenes video showing how Martin wrote, prepped and cast the entire project from his home. Martin told Reel Chicago, ” I hope this project inspires agencies to take these ‘managed’ risks in trusting more filmmakers out there to do their thing and deliver for their clients! It was a super positive experience and Energy BBDO was extremely great to work with. They also crushed the edit and took it to the next level, so that always helps.”


ALSO READ: Burrell posts powerful COVID-19 video on IG


Reel Chicago had the opportunity to ask Martin some questions about the project as well as rep Weiss.

Connor Martin

Connor, great job! Amazing job. Take us through the production: Here’s the deal. The only way to pull it off somewhat “professionally” was to prep, prep, prep. So, basically I got the script, built out my shot list like on a normal commercial job. And then I went upstairs to the empty apartment and mapped it all out. Knowing that I had would be filming a 5 year old, I basically went full military and knew every angle I’d shoot. I walked through with my camera, and lenses, and set up all the shots and blocking so I knew exactly the worlds I would be playing in…

I even put stands in places where I knew I’d want my key light, or my overhead light for a couple of set ups so that when it was time to film, I could fly in my key light and overhead and throw it up

This was all about using what I had in front of me… it was definitely serendipitous, I had an empty apartment above me because COVID killed all the Air BnBers… Well not literally killed, just killed the bookings, so my brother’s place was empty and clean. There was some serious sprinkling of luck on this job.

What kind of camera did you use? This was all about using what I had in front of me… it was definitely serendipitous, I had an empty apartment above me because COVID killed all the Air BnBers… Well not literally killed, just killed the bookings, so my brother’s place was empty and clean. There was some serious sprinkling of luck on this job.

For something like this, did you just gaff it yourself ? Oh yeah I gaffed it myself. I had my titan tubes on the app and was able to fly those around and remotely control them. I just a wannabe gaffer, ok, but on my small passion projects, and documentary I always have had to light them, so I learned. Well I’m still learning… don’t worry Gaffers, I’m a joke compared to you. Please work for me someday!

And how did you find DPing yourself I’m exhausted by myself. But yeah I shot this. I’ve been shooting a ton this year, especially kids for my documentary, so I used the same style I’ve gotten comfortable with. You should’ve seen how many takes it took me to nail focus on some of those shots… Thank God for my patient cast.

And did you act as Art Director and Production Designer? Actually me and my roommate! She has some chops and she helped sanitize the place too. But the task wasn’t too hard… we were specifically asked to dress the house “Like a Single Dad would, very lived in, not too chic, and definitely not so gross we’d want to call child services…”. Turns out that style comes quite naturally to a Father of two with no interior design taste.

What did you find most challenging about the project? I think it was the amount of time I had to get this done. Obviously shooting with children is already difficult in itself because of how long they can last and do the same thing over and over. Now add the fact I had to Gaff, DP, Direct, AD, and script supervise to a kid who wanted to go home after 2 hours, it was intense.

Thank God her dad Andrew was there, he was amazing in helping me get through our script. To add to all of it, the timeline for the shoot was insane too… we had a script change on the Sunday before we shot Tuesday and that put me in a jam to prepare.

Luckily, I’ve had a lot of experience getting jammed for time in my earlier
days doing indie music videos and docs and smaller commercials so
this just felt like five years ago!

Nikki Weiss

And now, Nikki, do you think doing productions like Connor’s will have legs when things return to normal whatever that may be? I think we are looking at a very different new “normal” so to speak. And yes I do believe we will need to continue to be lean andmean. Production will be like a construction site now.  If you’re not working on the site, you won’t be standing around and hanging out.  Most likely there will be a limited number of people allowed on a set. 

Remote real time live video villages will be set up for agency and client. Temperatures will be taken, craft service won’t be grazing tables anymore.  Everything will have to be boxed, packaged and sealed…  I do believe that the production companies and directors who can be both one stop shops, nimble and efficient, will have the longest shelf life moving forward.

“Special Guests” is currently running now.

Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at colin@reel360.com or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1

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