INTERVIEW WITH SIDECAR:
Natalie recently directed a series of commercials for Texas Pete hot sauce, shot in Nashville over the course of a week. She was tasked with creating three separate broadcast spots that went above and beyond what the brand had done in the past. The spots were to be vibrant and vibey, yet thoughtful and grounded in connection and kindness. She shares some thoughts on her process below.
"It was a lovely brief to be handed and right up my alley. The agency had a rough sketch for each spot and they asked me to take it from there to uplevel and flesh out full storyboards. I took all of this to heart and used it as a guide to set priorities.
Projects like these require careful casting. Finding the right actors to deliver the needed warmth and honesty required my close involvement in the casting process. Once on set, I worked closely with the talent to set the tone and keep authenticity in our moments. It was a collaboration, and it worked well.
I also chose a different filming approach for each of the spots, so that each story felt fresh and stood alone. One spot was shot in a loose, handheld lifestyle approach that allowed our actors freedom to improvise, whereas another spot utilized very orchestrated blocking to 'follow' a bottle of hot sauce, as it was passed around. This tied the talent together in a series of connected moments.
Color wise, I wanted to use vibrancy to impact the stories visually and emotionally. I worked closely with the styling teams to craft a palette that suited the brand. The stylists used the color direction to thread each spot together in a carefully designed, meaningful way.
Selecting the right DP is such a huge part of my process. I love having this person as my creative partner from the beginning. On this project, we were lucky to align with DP Joe Simon, who helped me brainstorm ideas for camera techniques and shooting styles that shaped each spot. That partnership is invaluable.
It was wonderful to be directing in Nashville again. This city has such a talented and warm film crew family, and we genuinely had a great time. Anyone who works with me knows this is a big thing for me; we must create a collaborative vibe, fostering creativity in all departments. It’s honestly one of the great joys of my job, inspiring a group of madly talented creative minds, all coming together and working towards a common goal.
Production work often feels like you are starting the day with the collective task of diffusing a live bomb while a 12-hour clock ticks down – ha! — however, a sense of playfulness and collective problem-solving goes a long way in making that aspect of the job satisfying as well."
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