Thursday, November 21, 2013

More Than Just Pretty Pictures...

Everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words, right? But for your brand, don't you want more than just words?

   Style, comfort, sophistication, reliability, even sense of humor, can all be part of a brand's identity. The right imagery can communicate that to your audience even more effectively than copy. We work with you and your team to design photography and video images that communicate your brand's identity and personality to your market.

Flexsteel IHFC Showroom, 2013
   Flexsteel Furniture illustrates both style and comfort in the video that we produce for their television commercials. The overall production value sets it apart from much of the stock footage seen in traditional dealer ads, which communicates to their potential customers that Flexsteel is a high quality brand.

"When we started working with Mark on Flexsteel's commercial video, he really took the time to understand what we needed from the footage - beyond simple images of the furniture. We began working together on commercial spots, and he started seeing other opportunities to help build our overall image, such as virtual tours of the High Point Furniture Market showroom. He and his crew are fun to work with, and we get great images, too."
           ~ Justin Mills, Director of Advertising & PR, Flexsteel Industries, Inc.

South of France - Cote D'Ivoire and Lavender Fields
   When South of France introduced new packaging for their Natural Body Care products, they needed new photography to further define their soaps and body washes as exotic and luxurious. Mark worked with them and production designers at Ink Photography Productions to create artistic sets to capture the brand's new feel.

South of France - Vanilla Creme Caramel

    Sometimes a brand needs to feel accessible, more human. In those cases, the situation might call for a little comedy. Everyone dreads taking their car to the shop, right? When G-Force Marketing wanted to lighten the mood with a humorous character for a series of tv spots, Mark worked with them to create the world of "Betchadidn'tknow Guy." He rescues everyday folks from the the hazards of going to the wrong car repair shop, and steers them to the clean, professional dealer of our hero brand. With Mark behind the camera, his team of set designers, stylists, lighting & grip, and camera crew, brought "Betchadidn'tknow Guy" to life and had a blast doing it.

Here are a few behind the scenes photos from that shoot!

It'd be scary if it wasn't a set.

Would you trust this guy with your car?

Waiting room from hell.

Happily Ever After!
Give Mark a call at the studio to discuss how our photography and video production team can help you capture and promote your brand's identity.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thirty Years Ago Today!

Today marks an event that I must say never really crossed my mind when I started Mark Wagoner Productions, then known as Mark Wagoner Fotografie. That was 30 years ago -- strange to even write that. 
In the summer of 1983, I had just returned from working in the Middle East and was planning my next move. It turned out that I met Lynn Jaffe that summer, who in time would become Lynn Wagoner. Also, I already had some business contacts in North Carolina, so I decided to look for a studio space in Greensboro. October 1st was the day that I moved into 12-H Wendy Court, the space that I still use as home base.
Before the cyc-wall, and what's that under the black cloth?
Back then, there was a darkroom instead of a kitchen, and they only computers in the studio were ones I photographed for Compute! Magazine. (I remember shooting a story about the very first Macintosh, which showed families with their home computers!)

A souvenir from the 10th anniversary.
I have been supported by a wealth of great team members, clients and friends. I find it really exciting that 30 years on I am in the middle of one of the busiest periods I have ever had! Thanks to everyone for contributing to the success of these first 30 years.

I am looking forward to many more great shoots with all the enthusiasm of that day in 1983, but with a hell of a lot more experience.

How many changes can you spot?




Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Win 2 Tickets to "Wait Until Dark" at Triad Stage!

We've been fans of Triad Stage since the beginning, so when our friends at Bluezoom invited us to team up in creating promotional materials for their Lucky 13th Season, we jumped at the chance! We will be filming and editing trailers for each of the six MainStage productions this season. We've just completed the first piece for the thriller "Wait Until Dark", on stage from September 1 - 29. (See it here!

With help from the folks at Triad Stage & Bluezoom, Mark created a trailer that we hope will send a chill down your spine. We had a lot of fun working on the creepy visuals for the video. The trailers will be shown to audiences at local movie theaters throughout the season, as well as online - at a social media venue near you.

Mark Wagoner Productions is excited to continue our support of local arts groups with this partnership, and "Wait Until Dark" is going to be a great show. In fact, we're giving away a pair of tickets to the official Opening Night performance on Friday, September 6! Just leave a comment here on the blog or send Mark an email, and you're entered! Act fast, because we will randomly select a winner from all the entries we receive tomorrow morning, Wednesday, September 4. (You can also purchase tickets online!)

Enjoy the show!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Supporting the Arts

We're fortunate to have a vibrant arts community in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Mark Wagoner Productions is proud to have had many opportunities to help promote and contribute to its success.

     One recent project was a video to announce the rebranding of artsGreensboro (formerly the United Arts Council). Mark edited a collage of still images provided by a host of local photographers (including a few of his own), plus music and graphics, into an dynamic statement about creative life in our city.
     "We needed a high-energy video solution to help us rebrand the United Arts Council as ArtsGreensboro. Mark Wagoner’s fresh creative approach combined that change with emotionally engaging arts images and a rhythm that literally jump off the screen. It’s brilliant!"  --  Thomas Philion, President & CEO ArtsGreensboro
     Watch the video here!

     Another notable local arts event is the Eastern Music Festival. Mark has provided still photography and video to help promote EMF for years, and this year he was honored to see three of his images incorporated into the festival banners at Dana Auditorium on the campus of Guilford College.

2013 Telly Awards

We are so excited to announce that we have received three Tellys for creative work over the past year. The Telly Awards recognizes the very best film & video productions, groundbreaking online video content, and outstanding local, regional, & cable TV commercials and programs.

Set the Stage, a commercial spot that Mark directed for the United Arts Council of Greensboro's 17 Days Festival, won awards for use of animation and for non-profit promotion. Mark served as Director/DP on Esperanza, a short film created with Ink Photography Production, which was recognized for cinematography.

We are honored to have received these awards, and we are very grateful for the wonderful clients and partners who contribute to these exciting projects. Click the links below to view the winning videos!

Screen shot from "Set the Stage"
Screen shot from "Esperanza"

Bon Appetit!

Sometimes you seek out a specialty, sometimes the specialty finds you. That has been the case with Mark and food & beverage photography. Over the years, he has been called on to do this appetizing work for both editorial and advertising clients. Being a bit of a foodie himself, it was a natural fit. Mark has experience shooting in the studio and on location in restaurants, bars, and kitchens for clients ranging from Darryl's Wood Fired Grill to Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Click through the photo above to be taken to more food & still life images in Mark's "objects" portfolio, or view his Showreel on Vimeo for more motion samples.

Corolla 2013

Take a moment to unwind with this video postcard from Mark's winter trip to the Outer Banks...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Producing Someday

     Standing in a field prepping gear, a cast and crew of 25 or so people each doing their part, and the AD is asking how long until you are ready to roll... not to mention the pressure to live up to the expectations of the director / script-writer. The first shot is a simple camera on slider move of a tombstone in a field, with a 200mm lens - no problem. But the next shot is a Steadicam shot walking backwards in tall clumpy grass. Is everything ready, have you done your homework, read the script enough, thought through all the gear, can you see the film in your head yet? You know they will call action in a few minutes, are you ready to roll?

     That day was October 25th, the first day of a four-day shoot for the principle photography on a short film titled Someday. Written and directed by Stephen van Vuuren, produced by SV2 Studios and Mark Wagoner Productions, I served as the director of photography. My main goals were to not shoot a lame-looking film, to tell the story, and to have fun.

      While we are still shooting a few shots this winter, the bulk of the shoot was completed in four days last October. Now we are deep into dealing with the footage, the edit in the early stages with Stephen, and I am working out the post-production details for the look and color of the film. The overall look was laid out in the hours (really more like days) that Stephen and I spent discussing and looking at films.

     Working on this element is as exciting for me as shooting - very different, but exciting. The shoot is full of nervous energy and emotions, lots of people working for the final goal of producing the film, but when I am working on the color grading, especially at the design stage that I am in now, it is very different. I am sitting at my computer, thinking about the emotion of the shots, how far too push the color without it becoming too heavy-handed. Very quiet and delicate business, it is a bit like meditation for me. After the edit is done and these decisions are made, and we are applying all of the grading to the final film, matching shots, correcting for lens color and the like - that is more like work.

     Our design and pre-production process took nearly nine months. While Stephen was tightening the script, our art department was busy with some of the larger tasks that we knew would make it into the final draft. One of the most interesting was the collection of 50,000 sheets of office paper to populate the desk of the character Grim Man (and they also found a home for the paper after the shoot.) We were all busy with location scouting in addition to our other duties for the film. During the casting we had 2,000 people submit headshots, and we auditioned 200 people for the seven roles. By September 1, 2012, we had pushed our original shoot dates back a few weeks. The role of David was proving difficult to cast, and one of the primary locations was proving tough to nail down. But the film was coming to life, full of energy, and the pressure was mounting.

    During those last few weeks before the shoot, I was busy with tech scouts, lenses, batteries and all of the things that require attention before a shoot. We were pushing into some new waters for me on this project, remote wireless video monitoring, using the Canon C300 in five different configurations, but the most interesting of all was the plan for recording the song that appears in the film. After much deliberation and discussion, Stephen suggested we record the actors singing on the set live - yes, live. Stephen had seen the teaser for  Les Miserables directed by Tom Hooper, and after passing around the video to the main team members, it was decided that we would use this concept to shoot the song in the film.
     This was a really big deal, as it meant having a keyboardist on set, a way for the actors to hear music in their ears, the keyboard player had to be able to hear the actors, and we had to record all of the vocals, as well as a sync track for the keyboard, while filming the whole thing. Now in case you do not know, we did not have multi-million dollar budget, a sound crew 3 times bigger than a normal film shoot and weeks to shoot. We had a a sound budget in the hundreds of dollars, a small but dedicated crew, actors and a music director who were willing to put themselves out on a limb and believe that this could be done, and only a few weeks to figure out how to pull it off. It was crazy to attempt on a project like this. I can only say I am glad we did!

      The thing that I really like about this type of project is that it becomes an exploration space and a proving ground. It is a chance to test out new processes and artistic thoughts, and then we are able to bring this research to our commercial productions.

     For the film, we had assembled a great cast and production crew. Some of the regulars that I work with were there, including Jill Davis as script supervisor and Christian Parsons as gaffer and camera operator, plus we brought along some new folks that really helped bring this show together.

     With the post production process underway, it’s deeply satisfying to see that this goal is being achieved, beyond our high expectations. Every frame bears the mark of multiple creative contributors to the film – art, cast, production design, sound. But ultimately film is a visual medium, and I believe the hard work Stephen and I put into Someday will result in great addition to our body of work.