Behind the Scenes of “OrangeBlast”

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The finished Commercial:

At the 2015 academy, we wanted to give the students even more time for hands on learning. The best way to do that would be to shoot another film in addition to the official production, but the problem was time. What kind of project could be shot in one day? We finally hit on a plan – the students film a 30 second commercial for “OrangeBlast”, a fictional orange juice brand!

I think it’s safe to say it was a success. Everyone had a blast, learned a lot, and really got to see first hand how the process works from start to finish. Here’s a little look behind the scenes of making the “OrangeBlast” commercial:


Even though we had planned out what everyone would be shooting ahead of time, the students got a chance to work together to brainstorm and come up with ideas on how to best communicate the message of the orange juice company. Everyone got a copy of the “Creative Brief” (basically a document explaining the goals of the ad campaign, what the target audience is, etc.) and then worked from that. It was really fun to hear what everyone came up with! To be honest, a lot of the ideas they had were better than what I came up with for the students to shoot, but in my case, I had to stick to what could be done in one day…


After everyone had finished their outlines, the teams worked on storyboarding their ideas. John-Clay taught on the subject of “Cinematic Camerawork”, so it was a great prep for this step in the process. After the storyboards were done, Carol reviewed them with each team, helping them to think about it from the art department perspective.

So that brings me to the film itself: Before we went on location, I prepared the pre-production materials for the students to work with. That included the creative brief, outline, moodboard, storyboards and an animatic. Below are the links to the files:


The next day production was in full swing. Everybody was divided up into two units, with John-Clay supervising 1st unit, and me on second. Each of the directors got to experience what it’s like to be in that position with everybody reporting to them, including the DP and the art dept. Obviously I can only speak for 2nd unit, but they did an amazing job!


Jacob W. did a great job as director. He was able to decide what he liked and didn’t like, and didn’t just settle for what was easiest. Jacob C. was supervising art for second unit, and did an amazing job of transforming the set into several different locations. Zoe helped out with a bunch of things, not least of which was being a patient stand-in for several scenes as Micah and Gwendelynn worked on setting up the lighting and camera. Two of the students also had roles in front of the camera – Courtney and Luke. They did a great job playing their parts, and were great about taking direction from the directors. Everyone did an awesome job!

I think we all enjoyed the “orange splashing” shot (except maybe John-Clay) :) We needed to shoot it in slow motion, but between the 5D Mark II and the C100, we only had 60 FPS, so we ended up shooting it on John-Clay’s iPhone 6 in (if I remember correctly) 190 FPS. It actually turned out pretty good! A big thank you goes to Jack Davis for providing ladders, buckets, etc. that we needed for the shoot!




By the end of the academy, we were able to complete the first rough cut of the commercial. It was a blast (!) listening to all the laugher going round and all the pleas to “watch it one more time”. Once I got back from the academy, I did some color-grading, visual effects, etc. and then sent it out to the students for review. Below is a video I made explaining what I’d done so far, including covering what I did for sound design:

What I didn’t expect was all the edits :p The visual effects list was about as long as my arm… But it’s all good. I was able to get the edits done, and I think everyone was happy :)

Here’s a final breakdown of the visual effects I did: 


I think I can sum it up by saying we all really enjoyed the OrangeBlast project. We learned new things, got more experience in things we knew already, and had a lot of fun on the way. And that was only two out of five days of the academy! 

In the weeks ahead we’ll be posting more about the 2015 official production, which is another story for another day. 

For all of the students (and our Online Academy members), below is a download link to the project files from the film, including the raw footage and the pre-production files:

Download the Project Files

Any favorite memories you’d like to share from this or similar projects?

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Director - MWCFA

Andrew Bartlett is one of the co-founders of Bartlett Productions, a small media company based out of northern North Dakota. He has a passion for serving Christ through the visual arts and has had the opportunity to work on a number of films as well as produce marketing materials for businesses and organizations. Andrew is also the Director of the Midwest Christian Filmmakers Academy, where aspiring filmmakers can learn the craft in a hands-on way.