Arts / COVID-19 / Media

What film production is like in the time of social distancing

1440 Film Co. challenged itself to make a slick food commercial at home, without breaking lockdown rules.

Behind the scenes of 1440 Film Co.'s Stewart's commercial. (Courtesy photo)

1440 Film Co., the Wilmington-based production company with an office at The Mill, has to do things differently now that on-location filming and full crews are a no-go.

Founder Mike Pfeiffer decided to challenge himself by making a food commercial in his basement, following the guidelines of social distancing, with no crew other than his wife, Alina Pfeiffer. The pro-bono project is for Stewart’s Brewing Company in Bear.

“We choose Stewart’s for a few reasons,” said Pfeiffer, whose business included pro-bono work even before the COVID-19 lockdown. “First, the restaurant industry has been hit hard; second, I used to work at Stewart’s, and throughout the years I met a ton of great friends [and] learned about hard work and good beer. And third, this [project] gave me a reason to put on pants and scratch that creative itch.”

The project, as you might imagine, came with challenges.

“Filmmaking by its nature is very collaborative,” Pfeiffer said. “Typically, for a shoot like this, you would have a crew of 10 or more, including food stylists, camera operators, gaffers and grips. So boiling this down to just two people was a challenge. 1440 Film Co. has done some food shoots in the past so we already had some of the things laying around the house that we needed like fake floors, lighting and cameras, but other than that we were working with pretty limited gear as well. There was a bit more gaff tape involved that I would care to admit.”

One of the challenges was getting the table height right for filming. The fix? “I ended up using four Harry Potter books to get the level just right,” he said.

burger and beer gif

A gif from the commercial.

The project took about seven hours to shoot, plus a few days in post production. They worked on it from 7 p.m. to about 3 a.m., while their 2-year-old daughter was asleep.

“All in all, given the limitations, I’m very proud with what we were able to accomplish — but more importantly, I’m happy to lend my skills out to my friends at Stewart’s,” Pfeiffer said. “I think right now it’s more important than ever to help out our local businesses and hopefully what we created will help drive some business.”

Check out the video here. And if it makes you hungry for burgers and wings (and you live in the Bear area), note that Stewart’s is offering takeout and delivery.

Here’s a glimpse behind the scenes of the commercial:

Series: Coronavirus

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