Director Jef Loeb on how to get more from every production

How does a consortium of energy companies change the way people think about their industries? Showcase a future made possible by their products. Combining live action with intensive VFX, this tentpole video anchors a huge number of digital, streaming, and point-of- sale assets. Each scene was shot to work as a stand-alone, platform-agnostic topical video, in lengths from :06 to :15 to :30. And stills, pulled from VFX output, became the visuals for display advertising, branded content, destination website, and more.

Too often, scenes pulled from an anthem video feel disconnected or incomplete. Not so with Space Playground and the other vignettes! “The intention was to create a big-screen cinematic experience,” describes Jef Loeb, “The combination of live action, specialized stunt rigging, and VFX allowed us to capture the gee-whiz cool factor as well as a nice emotional ending.”

Transforming plastic waste into sports cars? Almost as magical as what it took to tell the story. Intensive set design with practical rigging and puppetry was needed to create this realistic, but futuristic, vision of a car-making facility that’s 3D-printing cars using recycled ocean plastic.

These spots humanize the Bay Area housing crisis using a mix of real people and actors (dare you to tell the difference). Wide shots create a sense of isolation. Close-ups create a personal connection. Jef’s directed performances – using the device of “read” letters – make the spots memorable and highly emotional, while remaining genuine and authentic.

Why hire a director who is also an award-winning writer? The morning of the shoot, the client forwarded a news clip detailing a state legislator’s bill to address the housing crisis by letting community college students sleep in their cars overnight. The script and the spot were written on location and an actor previously cast for another part, shifted into this role.

Authenticity may be the hardest thing to reproduce, but critical for this public-service campaign. Pre-scripted dialogue with interview-prompted improv took advantage of our star’s wonderful back-stories in entirely authentic and “non-stagy” settings.

How do you transform a single shoot into a complete rebranding? Collaborate on set design and ping-pong between video and still shoots. Then, take a true “physician-as-hero” approach and combine live action, CG, and intensive motion graphics to tell the story in a way that breaks the cliche of shooting clinicians inside of sterile hospitals.

This highly art-directed piece was designed primarily as a theatrical trailer, but also to support digital advertising. So how do you shoot for the biggest and the smallest screens simultaneously? “We used 100% practical props including the giant zero,” Jef explains, “and captured each location the day before with a DLSR, so we had a variety of interesting looks that reinforced our message.”

If you’re interested in maxing out your next productions, check out more of Director Jef Loeb’s work here. Your next shoot may just turn into an entire campaign.