Abby Wambach stars in “Abby for Apples.”
Soccer star Abby Wambach was “homegrown in New York State, just like New York apples,” exactly what the New York Apple Association was looking for when choosing a spokesperson. Wambach, the greatest goal scorer in international soccer history, is currently leading a multi-platform campaign for the trade association that includes commercials, radio spots, print ads, and point-of-purchase displays. The 30-second television spot, “Abby for Apples,” is headlining the campaign.
The commercial features Wambach and a group of children enjoying apples and soccer in an orchard located in Upstate New York. When director Ray Manard took on the project, he knew very early on that he wanted to use film for the spot. “The shoot was all outside, so weather was obviously going to be an unpredictable factor,” explains Manard. “Based on the schedule, we knew there would definitely be some high-contrast sun situations to deal with, and film, absolutely, would be able to handle that, the way only film can.”
Manard and his cinematographer, Eric McMaster, decided to go with a 16mm stock, KODAK VISION3 50D Color Negative Film 7203. “Our first setup of the day was around noon, which meant the light was far from perfect,” continues Manard. “It was pretty high contrast, with heavy backlight on Abby’s face, but the film was able to handle it. In the opening sequence of the spot, you can see we were able to dial in both her face and the clouds that were behind her. She just looked great. As the sun got lower, we had some really pretty light for the later scenes, and the film embraced that.”
The choice of film provided a host of efficiency benefits to the production as well. “I’ve worked with the same crew a lot over the years, and we knew what we were going to get with film,” he adds.
“Everyone was comfortable with the process, so it was very easy for us to get the job done. We only had Abby for seven hours, and she needed to record radio spots and take photos as well during that time. On top of that, we had about 15 kids on set, ranging in age from 5 to 14 years old, and they can lose their energy really quickly. Efficiency was key, and film has a tendency to make things go very smoothly. With some of the digital processes, technical details can actually get in the way and then you’re behind. We couldn’t afford for anything to go wrong here.”
Mason Selkowitz Marketing, the agency for “Abby for Apples,” wanted plenty of apples and lots of Rochester, N.Y.-native Wambach in the commercial, but Manard noted they were also looking for something more. “For this spot especially, I knew how we wanted it to feel emotionally, and film was the only way we could get it. We needed that true-to-life, very natural, organic look that film delivers time and time again. The agency was very happy with the finished product, and there were a couple of people there who didn’t know we shot on film. They were commenting on how amazing the highlights and color looked. They all answered ‘of course’ when I told them it was because we shot this on film.”
Manard, co-owner of the boutique film and video production company Crystal Pix, has worked as a cinematographer, editor and director over the course of his 25-year career. “Film allows you to create true-to-life, real pictures that evoke emotion,” he adds. “It is always the right tool when you really want to move your audience. On ‘Abby for Apples,’ we got exactly the homegrown feel we were looking for.”