After the first take on the first scene, I knew this was going to be something special. Not because of what we had written, or what we had thought about over the last few months, but because of Jess. She really was great. I couldn’t have cast her part any better if I tried, because she was willing to be real and vulnerable and bring elements of her very own story with cancer into this fictitious one.
The rest of the shoot was a blast: joking in the hospital; Jess stealing an IV bag and pole, laughing at how much she gets away with; walking around Fells Point, trying (and failing) to film with my phone and not look like a weirdo; actually drinking the drinks in the scene, for uh, authenticity; and bonding with Jess and her wonderful mother who I just kept calling “mom.” There was a moment at the end of the night when I couldn’t get my garage parking ticket to work and Jess waited to make sure I got on the road okay. I don’t know why that stuck with me, but it did. We all hugged (remember hugging?) and drove into the night.
I’m nervous with every edit. At least during a shoot, you can fix something, but once you sit down to edit, there’s no fooling anyone, least of all yourself. If it doesn’t work then it really doesn’t work and you have your task cut out for you. It’s almost impossible to save a bad video with a good edit.
Watching the first edit now, it’s largely the same as the final, aside from the music. The file timestamp says October 15th, at 6:06 pm. I always do an export at the end of the day so I can bother everyone with drafts. If you know me or have met me, you most likely have gotten a cut of something for notes and feedback at some point. I remember the next day, crowding the team around and showing them the cut, there was not a dry eye in the house. We talked about the edit, the pacing, the music. What could be better, what could be tuned, but mostly it was all there in the first cut, just like the first script.
Looking at the final version now, I just think about how easily it all came together. How it wasn’t a struggle, aside from some music options, but even that was no big deal. Ultimately, I only cared about two opinions: Jess’ and mom’s, and I’m happy to say they both liked it.
This spot changed how I thought about commercials, productions, and how to do work for non-profits. All it takes is a good story. The “toys,” as much as they can help, don’t always matter.
I’m honored to say I’m still friends with Jess and we all got to hang out the night this spot won an ADDY. It was a great thing to be a part of, and it’s something I’ll never forget.