Written by on May 28, 2010. Posted in Production News

Mayflower shoots with 20-foot marionette on location in LA

American house-moving firm Mayflower has shot its latest commercial on location in Los Angeles using a 20-foot-tall marionette called Audrey. Big Move shows Audrey walking slowly across an American landscape, openly operated by a team of puppeteers. She is followed by a removals bus and eventually settles on a recliner outside her new suburban home.

Jeff Sommar, Head of Production at Rabbit, said: “The shots ‘in the city’ were done in downtown LA and the house she ends up at was at the Warner Ranch in the valley. All of the locations were chosen for their aesthetic appeal, bearing in mind the practical concern of overhead wires, low-clearance bridges and trees that all could wreak havoc with our puppet with rigging.”

The commercial doesn’t have a specific setting but is intended to signify a long trip across America. The opening shot was filmed near Bakesfield, around two hours north of LA, as it offered a long road that could establish the long journey theme.

Audrey herself was designed and built specially for the commercial by The Character Shop in California. The company’s Rick Lazzarini explained that the marionette was designed to look like it was made of wood. In actual fact she had a skeleton of aluminium tubing, over which there were foam body parts with a urethane coating. This was then sprayed with acrylic paint to achieve the wood grain effect.

Mr Lazzarini said: “The vehicle we used to propel her and support her truss, a telehandler, was a magnificent, but loud beast. So communications were a challenge on set. Long hours on set were a true challenge to the guys who not only built Audrey and gave her a final push, but who also were the on-screen Mayflower Movers who continued to push (and pull!) her.”

Commenting on working with marionettes on location in general, Mr Sommar concluded: “Allow for plenty of set up time and try to limit your moves which require the full breakdown of the puppet. If you can get a long straight away road around the corner from your house that you are shooting at, then try and make that work.”

Click here to view the ad.

Client: Mayflower
Agency: Grey Worldwide, New York
Agency Producer: Kim Kietz
Production Company: Rabbit, Bicoastal
Executive Producers: Douglas Howell, Joby Barnhart
Producer: Gary Romano
Director of Photography: Joe Zizzo

Director: Brent Harris

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