Friday, June 19, 2015

Doritos Crash The Superbowl Competition Entry

This was the first ever film project I  produced with the super talented Joshua Wong of The Laundromatte. We'd talked about producing and directing some quality story driven content together for years. Separately I'd managed his band Noughts and Exes (arguably the most famous Indie Band in Hong Kong) for some time and worked with him on the popular musical flashmob video we did for their song Hearts as well as lending some small support for their previous award winning music video The Start Of Us , but now it was finally time to do something with a narrative behind it.

Film Director Joshua Wong
Joshua Wong
You may be aware that every year Doritos hosts a competition called "Crash The Superbowl" where they invite film-makers from all over the world to submit their idea for a 30 second commercial for Doritos. The winner would be featured as their actual commercial at The Superbowl - the most watched event on television - and would also receive a cash prize of US$1 million. This certainly all sounded very appealing, however the main reason we selected this competition as the first time to work together on a film-type project was because there was a finite timeline! And it was soon! This would mean that there was no way we could put off taking action again for months or even years and instead we'd be forced to come up with an idea, pull together the actors locations and props, shoot it, edit it and submit it in a total time period of about 10 days!

Right off we go...

First thing was the concept. Josh came up with a fantastic idea within no time flat (that is his specialty, along with directing, editing and composing music), I loved it so it was a go. Next we needed a crew. Enter the supremely skilled Derrick Fong:

Cinematographer Derrick Fong
He has shot everything from New York Indie Films, to Japanese TV Shows to Bollywood Blockbusters, so was clearly the man for the job!

Then we needed our actors. As it was an action piece, I contacted my good friend Harry Oram who in addition to his own very strong acting background (Transformers 4, Dragonblade alongside Jackie Chan, John Cusack & Adrian Brody) also happens to be connected to a crew of top quality action actors that he works with regularly. He quickly came on board and brought with him Temur Mamisashvili, Philippe Joly and our lead actor Tom Caserto.

Action kung fu stunt men actors
Philippe, Harry & Temur 
Action stunt man actor kung fu expert
Tom Caserto
Lastly we just needed our heroine in distress, which was filled by the beautiful and talented Katey Daniel who has danced, sung and acted her way across two of the world's biggest continents. 

katy daniel model actress
Kate Daniel
The stage was all set and now I had the basic pieces in place, it was time to figure out location and shoot times. Because of everybody's busy timetables and the fast approaching deadline we had to settle for a single overnight shoot, with all of us heading straight to work the morning after. Location-wise we picked the back streets of Kwun Tong, partly for their enclosed, threatening, industrial feel and partly because no one is ever there late at night, so less chance of our production getting shot down.

With everything locked into place we headed to the location a couple of evenings later to both plan and rehearse all the complicated stunt moves. Then once we had them down, there was nothing left to do but shoot, so the next day that's exactly what we did. From 9pm we set-up and shot a series of wild action scenes in the back streets of Kwun Tong with minimal preparation and even less precautions. Our team kicked, flipped, punched and flew around, running up walls, bounding over obstacles and destroying the special props we'd prepared for them to smash to pieces. By 5am we were done. Breakfast and off to work. A tough, but incredibly rewarding night.

film crew of Doritos a snack worth saving
The Whole Crew
From there it went into Josh's hands for editing and for a solid week he edited like a madman, whilst his cousin worked on sound and foley. As the deadline approached we were ready and up it went.

The initial response from the public was good and we were hopeful. Sure enough when it got to the 1st round of judging we made it through. Into the 2nd round now, exciting times! We waited and watched to see what would happen next. Competition was fierce and our vote rating went up and down agains the remaining competitors. Then we received a mail... We were through to the semi-finals! We had officially become the only entry from Asia to make it through to the semi-finals and were now considered one of the top 20 submissions in the world out of thousands of entries from all over the world.

Sadly we did not make it to the final 5 and that was as far as we got. Nevertheless, we were extremely happy with the result and we even got a small cash prize, which covered the costs of producing it. We'd come out the other end a bit more experienced, we had produced our first action piece, it had done extremely well on an international level and we'd made new friends and had loads of fun doing it.

Doritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert CompetitionDoritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert Competition

Doritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert CompetitionDoritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert Competition

Doritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert Competition
Doritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert CompetitionDoritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert Competition comic book hero
Doritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert Competition comic book heroDoritos Crash The SuperBowl Advert Competition Kate Daniel

If you've read this far and didn't watch the clip, scroll back to the top to see what it was all about. Hope you enjoyed it and keep reading to see a bunch of other exciting projects we worked on after this one. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 - Working on the Album Re:Workz!

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 working with Kelvin Avon (Afreex) & Jun Kung 恭碩良 of MoFo Music on Re:Workz at Hins Cheung King Hin 張敬軒 studio

I am really proud to have been able to work on this project!

Spencer Douglass credit as Project Manager on Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 album Re:Workz
My Credit in Sandy Lam's (林憶蓮) Album Re:Workz
Spencer Douglass and Sandy Lam 林憶蓮

I have to say that of all the incredible music projects I've worked on over the years, this has to be both my favourite and one that I feel really lucky to have been involved in. This is the kind of project you seldom hear about in modern times, where creativity is truly king, where amazingly talented musicians have the freedom to let their magic flow and where the producers have both an incredible master-plan and yet also enough vision to let the music carry them in the moment. 

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 with MoFo Music, Kelvin Avon & Jun Kung 恭碩良 on Re:Workz recorded at Hins Cheung 張敬軒 studio

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 with MoFo Music, Kelvin Avon & Jun Kung 恭碩良 on Re:Workz

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮  with MoFo Music, Kelvin Avon & Jun Kung 恭碩良 on Re:Workz

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮  with MoFo Music, Kelvin Avon & Jun Kung 恭碩良 on Re:Workz

Jun Kung at Hins Cheung studio

Kelvin Avon (Afreex) recording at a large SSL desk

Tightening the drums

Kelvin Avon and Jun Kung doing their Spanish dance routine

The Task

The brief for the project was extremely challenging: take a selection of Sandy Lam's (林憶蓮) most iconic hits from the last 20 years and re-work them for a 2013 release. Obviously creating completely new arrangements and production for some of Hong Kong's most famous and best known songs was a major challenge, which had to be matched with an extremely high level of performance from the musicians and of course Sandy's beautiful vocals. Expectations were incredibly high and the result the producers wanted was to have something that was both relevant to the current music trends, whilst also respecting the incredible source material. I'm very pleased to say that the team was more than up to the task and the album has been recognised by both critics and the public, winning a huge number of awards last year. 

The Team

Kelvin Avon - Producer Extraordinaire

Kelvin Avon (Afreex) recording on a massive SSL desk

Kelvin Avon of MoFo music laughing

Kelvin Avon (Afreex) of MoFo Music laughing

Jun Kung 恭碩良 - The Quintessential Musician / Songwriter / Producer / Drummer

Jun Kung 恭碩良 recording

Legendary drummer Jun Kung 恭碩良 recording for Sandy Lam's album

Jesreal Lucero - The Unbelievably Talented and Blind from Birth Pianist

Blind pianist Jesreal Lucero recording on a 9' Steinway grand

Blind pianist Jesreal Lucero recording on a 9' Steinway grand

Blind pianist Jesreal Lucero recording on a 9' Steinway grand

Derrick Sepnio - Creative Guitar Genius

Derrick Sepnio playing guitar

Derrick Sepnio and Scott Dodd working their magic

Scott Dodd - Master of Electric & Upright Bass

Bass player Scott Dodd deep in thought

Scott Dodd playing the double bass

Scott Dodd playing the upright bass

Yuki Leung - My Partner in Crime

Yuki Leung and Spencer Douglass working on Sandy Lam's 林憶蓮 album

And of course the awesomely talented Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 herself

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 recording

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 recording

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 recording

At the end of this great experience, the best news of all is that the album came out even better than what we had been aiming for. It has a unique intimate feel when you listen to it, as if you are right there in that room with the musicians. And the vibe is undeniable as the musicians frequently take us away on wonderful little side journeys, before rejoining Sandy's beautiful vocals again.

For a taste of what was produced check out the first video from the album:


Hope you enjoyed it! 

Sandy Lam 林憶蓮 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Working with Keanu Reeves on "Man of Tai Chi"

Man of Tai Chi starring Keanu Reeves
Last year I was very lucky to get a really awesome and unusual job - working on the set of Man of Tai Chi directed and starred in by Keanu Reeves! 

It started when my friend asked me if I'd like to come along to assist with the aerial shooting for the film, which resulted in me joining the reconnaissance flights with the assistant director and acting as ground crew for the helicopter. Then after chatting with the Locations Manager for a while I found out that they were still missing a key location for the final shooting days - an underground car park. I decided to offer my services! A few days later and after a lot of phone calls to old friends, I had their property booked - the basement car park of Exchange Tower, a landmark building from Sino Land in Kowloon Bay. 

Shortly after that I got invited to be on set again, this time for the green screen shooting at the legendary Shaw Studios in Tseung Kwan O. It was an incredibly exciting night! Apart from getting to watch them building machines that would spin and implode cars and erect three storeys of green screen, it was also the same night that Typhoon Vicente hit, the first typhoon to reach T10 (the highest signal) since 1999! We worked right through the typhoon and when we left at 5am in the morning trees were blown all over the roads and destruction and debris was everywhere. Despite that, it was a fantastic night. Just incredible to watch some of the most dramatic scenes of the film come together whilst the typhoon raged around us. At the end we took the crew photos and you can just about spot me hiding on the left hand side:  

Spencer Douglass Keanu Reeves Man of Tai Chi Crew Photo Michael Wong Man-tak

Man of Tai Chi Crew Photo with Spencer Douglass and Keanu Reeves and Michael Wong Man-tak with an R44 helicopter

After we wrapped the shooting though the fun wasn't entirely over, as I got asked to help out on one final duty: organising the wrap party! Can't have a film shoot without a wrap party and with aviation still in mind, we decided to have ours at The Aviation Club located at the old airport in Kai Tak. It was a great fun night with a live Blues & Funk band, lots of delicious food and most importantly plenty of alcohol. We even had a photo booth with all kinds of bizarre props like knight's helmets and swords to take photos of ourselves with. Everyone had a great time and Keanu and his team were able to relax and let off some steam.

Here we are at the after party (no idea why I look so miserable about what was actually a great night):
Keanu Reeves and Spencer Douglass in Hong Kong
If you're a fan of Keanu Reeves and enjoyed reading this then please make sure to check out the trailer for Man of Tai Chi below:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Harvey Nichols X Jonathan Jay Lee Chinese New Year Campaign!

I love art (at least most art) and I am a huge fan of Jonathan Jay Lee's work, so when he contacted me to ask if I could help arrange a cooperation with him and Harvey Nichols for Chinese New Year I was overjoyed. This is exactly the kind of work I love to do - helping truly creative and highly skilled people (artists, musicians, directors etc.) to link up with forward thinking and creative brands to help them get their work out into the public eye!

So who is this Jonathan Jay Lee that I'm talking about? Well he is an extremely talented comic artist, illustrator, digital artist and painter who also happens to be the only Hong Kong born and raised comic artist I know of to be published by Marvel Comics! He was invited to draw his own version of The Punisher for the anthology comic book titled "Strange Tales" that Marvel releases every year. For this awesome project JJL basically did a Chinese Triad version of The Punisher set in HK! Now tell me that's not awesome?

You can check out a selection of Jonathan's fantastic artwork here:
Agent 88 Artwork for Heavy Metal Magazine

Cityscapes of Canton Road and West Kowloon

Original Artwork - Last Kiss
Live Painting for Hong Kong Jockey Club & Illustration for Kronenbourg 1664

Jonathan Jay Lee's Version of The Punisher & his original creation Wolf & Cub
Original Commissioned Artwork - The Drummer
So for this crossover job with Harvey Nichols, they were looking for JJL to specifically design a co-branded Jonathan Jay Lee X Harvey Nichols loyalty card for their most important VIP customers to celebrate Chinese New Year. The cards would be individually mailed to each VIP with a value of HK$888 pre-installed on the card for them to use at any Harvey Nichols store. For the card itself they wanted it to be an original artistic creation in Jonathan's typical style, but also to reflect traditional Chinese New Year values and artwork. This eventually led to a JJL's re-interpretation of a popular motif from ancient China the Boy and Ox in the field.

Have a look below to see what the final card looked like:
Can't wait to do our next collaboration project together! In the meantime you can check out the rest of Jonathan Jay Lee's work here: