May 10, 2011 § Leave a Comment
“Endless Summer”— Part 1 by Matt Hodgson Director / Writer
There’s always a lot of excitement around the launch of Lagoon Amusement Park’s yearly ad campaign and this season is no exception. In fact, as Lagoon begins to celebrate its 125th year in business and launch a new, one-of-a-kind surf-themed coaster named “BomBora,” the feeling around Lagoon, Matt2 & Vineyard Productions is down right heady.
We really dig this new campaign; we’re giddy about our creative approach and the team we assembled to bring it to life. Nothing was left to chance; everyone on our team really worked to finesse every detail from pre-production through post and you can see it in the final commercials. They’re nostalgic, they’re hip, they’re a lot of fun to watch and when they’re over you want more.
Pretty amazing when you consider that we brought the campaign to life in three short weeks, including idea development, pre-production and shooting in Utah and Southern California.
A Change of Direction
From early August 2010 to the second week of September we had been developing and prepping a completely different campaign for 2011 that was heavily steeped in visual effects. But when I received the news from Lagoon that they would be launching a new surf-themed coaster for 2011 and that they wanted it to be the focus of their campaign, I had to scrap everything and start over. With only three short weeks before the weather turned from a balmy Indian summer to chilly fall temperatures and rain possibly snow, we had to move fast.
I remember telling Lagoon’s Marketing team that I’d be back in three days with new fleshed out creative campaigns that we would need to decide on immediately, with Coca-Cola’s approval, or we would miss our shooting window. We were really in a tight spot. To make things more difficult, no one at Lagoon could show me what the new ride was going to look like, because it was still in development. I was charged with creating a campaign around a new, one-of-a-kind, surf-themed coaster that no one knew anything about.
The Ideas Flow
For a day and a half I immersed myself in everything “surf,” trying to get a handle on how to mesh the Lagoon experience with the surf vibe, and do it in a way that would result in compelling messaging for Lagoon while communicating the essence of this new, one-of-a-kind surf-themed coaster. Amid a flurry of really cool ideas, I kept thinking that this campaign needed to focus on two things: 1) what affect would this cool new surf-themed coaster would have on this 125 year-old park, and 2) how would it make Lagoon attendees feel? With those questions in mind it didn’t matter what the ride looked like… because it wasn’t really about the hardware at all. The new campaign had to connect the fun free-spirited vibe of surfing with the non-stop fun of the Lagoon experience, and it had to do it in an engagingly hip, memorable way—that’s when it hit me. I wanted to create a campaign of classic looking surf movie-like commercials that captured the nostalgia of classic surf films, that also had a cool stylized 2011 vibe—all choreographed to a tune that would convey the idea of sun-drenched days on the beach, surfing and riding roller coasters. A tall order to be sure, but we did it!
After sketching out some rough concept swatches I called Matthew Williams (Cinematographer) for his initial impressions and he was totally into it. Matt grew up in So-Cal surfing and making 8mm surf movies, so this was a concept that hit close to home and he saw the potential immediately. Cameron Gardner (Art Director) had the same enthusiasm for the concept and together we dove in to designing the look of our custom surfboards and concept frames. Then our amazing association with Vineyard Productions began as Jeff Miller (Executive Producer) and Brooke Redmon (Producer) bought into the creative whole-heartedly and began assembling what can only be described as an all-star production team.
The Perfect Solution
Three days later, as promised, I returned to Lagoon’s Marketing team with a super cool campaign direction, an ingenious way of executing it, and a perfect little tune by (the then little known group) the DRUMS, titled “Let’s Go Surfing” to tie it all together. Both Lagoon and Coca-Cola loved he idea and approved it on the spot. Our “Endless Summer” campaign direction was now a reality, and we had about two weeks to pull it off.
Over the next 10 days I will be posting the entire story behind the production of Lagoon’s 2011 “Endless Summer” campaign. It’s a story worth telling because it highlights the genius, talents and efforts of some amazingly talented filmmakers, artists and musicians who I feel privileged to have worked with.
Finally, all of this would mean nothing if it weren’t for the incredible team at Lagoon—Dave & Kristin Freed (Lagoon’s Owners), Terry Capener (Lagoon’s Vice President/General Manager), Dick Andrew (Lagoon’s Vice President/Director of Marketing & Group Sales) and Adam Leishman (Lagoon’s Advertising Coordinator/Go-To-Guy) are truly the genius behind the success of this campaign. Their vision, trust and willingness to empower me and my team to craft this campaign is a reflection of their passion for fun and an amazing business acumen that has guided Lagoon to the success it has enjoyed.
Thanks to all of you!
Tomorrow’s Post: The All-Star Team Behind Lagoon’s “Endless Summer”
July 15, 2010 § Leave a Comment
With a full slate of summer blockbusters rolling out over July 4th, it was the perfect week for Coca-Cola and Lagoon Amusement Park to hit the cinema with stop-motion visions of sizzling summer fun and icy cold refreshment created by Matt Hodgson (director/writer) and Matthew Williams (director of photography). The spot titled, “Stop-Motion Refreshment” was one of the final extensions of Lagoon’s wildly successful 2010 Campaign, which is scheduled to run in theaters and on broadcast television throughout the summer. The spot features a variety of iconic Lagoon summer moments all shot stop-motion using the Full Frame Canon 1Ds MKII and the High Speed Canon 1D MKII. Exclamation point Coca-Cola refreshment moments were shot high speed (super slow motion @ 120 fps) on 35mm film with the Arri 435. Light painted titles were created as the perfect compliment to the campaign’s stop-motion vibe. The entire campaign was choreographed to the unforgettable sound of Bitter:Sweet and their hit song titled, “The BOMB.” Shana Halligan, lead vocalist and lyricist of Bitter:Sweet rewrote some of the song’s original lyrics to fit Lagoon’s 2010 theme. TJ Nelson, fresh off a project for Nike Snowboarding, edited the Lagoon/Coca-Cola spot, with Matt Hodgson directing/producing, and Matthew Williams dialing in final color sweetening for the cinema. Final Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound Mix performed at Big Idea Music, by Chuck E. Myers and Jake Bowen, prior to completing their work on Pixar’s Toy Story 3. Final DI and theatrical film prints were made under the direction of John Price, director of studio operations & Teresa Dickey GM/VP at Cinema Concepts in Atlanta. Hodgson’s “Stop Motion Refreshment” commercial for Coca-Cola and Lagoon Amusement Park was created under the direction of Coca-Cola USA in Atlanta.
April 28, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Part 4: The Music
A key component to moving forward with the edit phase of Lagoon’s 2010 Campaign was finding the right music. “I had a cool music idea in my head as we were shooting, but no actual track, said Matt Hodgson (director/writer). “So once we had some hero still sequences to play with I spent a lot of time trying to match the idea in my head with an actual piece of music. After weeks of playing different music tracks against the rough cut I discovered the unforgettable sound of Bitter:Sweet, their amazing tune titled, “THE BOMB,” and the rest is history.”
Formerly the title song for NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle,” “THE BOMB” appears on Bitter:Sweet’s newest album release titled “Drama.” Bitter:Sweet features the talents of Kiran Shahani (Composer/Producer, and member of the group known as Supreme Beings of Leisure ) and Shana Halligan (singer/songwriter, whose father is Dick Halligan of the 70s rock group Blood Sweat & Tears). “When I first heard “THE BOMB” I absolutely loved it,” Hodgson said. “The tune featured this very cool, eclectic mix of instruments that you don’t normally hear together, and then on top of it all was Shana Halligan’s mind-blowing voice.”
While the instrumentals were a perfect fit with Hodgson’s vision, the lyrics needed to be tweaked to more closely reflect the Lagoon experience and their message. “I honestly thought there was no way Bitter:Sweet would tweak their lyrics, so initially I was just trying to acquire the rights to the song’s instrumentals,” Hodgson said. “But the more I listened to Shana the more I knew we needed her voice on this campaign.”
Days later Sanne Hagelsten of Zync Music in New York had a call set up for Hodgson and Halligan to discuss the new lyrics. “Shana was so great about wanting to make this work and so willing to rewrite lyrics that would take this campaign to a whole new level,” Hodgson said. “The funny thing was, most of the original lyrics already fit Lagoon’s message, so it was a fairly simple rewrite, and Shana nailed it, both in terms of the new lyrics and the resing. Shana was so cool to work with—the consummate professional, and she and everyone at Zync Music, Canshaker Productions and North Star Media went above and beyond to make this work for us.”
The Lagoon version of “THE BOMB” will begin hitting airwaves April 26, 2010 when Lagoon launches its 2010 advertising campaign.
Bitter:Sweet’s music has also been featured on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Sex and the City,” “Desperate Housewives,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Duplicity” starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Bitter:Sweet’s music is available on iTunes.
(Matt’s relationship and understanding with music, being a musician and composer himself, has worked as an advantage over the years in crafting creative campaigns that have been put together with strong music elements from artists, like Kenny Loggins, Take 6, Rockapella, The House Jacks, and Sonnet).