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The Making of: Fantastic Soup’s 30-second Spot (Art Direction)

When we formed Fantastic Soup in late 2009, we decided to start making fun little spots to promote ourselves. The first of these was based on a script written by Max, wherein a can of Fantastic Soup sitting among a shelf of boring soup cans beckons to a shopper in a grocery store.

Max’s script essentially called for a grocery store and a can of Fantastic Soup which
stutters and shakes
on the shelf among all the other, less fantastic soup cans.

With the help of our very resourceful friend Daniel, we quickly ended up with access to a local grocery store and started scouting.

The Before Photo


The After Photo

As a novice art director, I faced the task of making the set come to life on a shoestring budget and with only three weeks for preproduction — just the kind of challenge that makes independent filmmaking such fun.

Realizing we needed 400-500 soup cans for the shoot, our first (and biggest) challenge was to figure out how to produce them. Actual cans, as it turned out, would break the budget. After a few days of research — looking for other materials roughly the size of a soup can — we ended up getting in touch with a gracious guy named Mike from the Newark Group (a producer of paperboard products) who agreed to give us a carload of cardboard tube remainders for free. Luis and I made the drive to Lawrence, MA, and stocked a car with about 70 80″ long cardboard tubes the next day.

And this is how we made our beautiful cans…
Step 1: Borrow a chop saw from a friend and cut every tube into 5″ tall pieces.
Step 2: Rasp and sand the leftover cardboard schmutz off each piece of tube.
Step 3: Paint both ends of every tube with silver paint.
Step 4: Wrap each tube with a soup label.

This process took at least a week, devoting a few hours every night as fake can artisans, with the assistance of friends and the rest of the Fantastic Soup collective.

Daniel cuts tubes in the rain

Rasping and sanding

Painted ends for the effect of a real, shiny can

Meanwhile, I ended up settling on this for the “not-so-fantastic” soup can label:

Label design and color palette for the bland soup cans

The design and color palette informed the rest of the set. Everything in the store (besides the Fantastic Soup can, of course) would be monotonously repetitive and descriptively bland. Soup would just be “soup.” Fruits and vegetables would just be “fruits” and “vegetables.”

The initial vision included much more than I ended up undertaking (entire shelves of bags of chips, blandly stated as such, drinks represented by simple, solid colors, the entire aisle stocked with brandless, colorful objects. . .these ideas fell off the execution list once I discovered there wasn’t enough time to do everything before our scheduled shoot day).

And thankfully, Luis ended up taking on the design of the star of our show: the Fantastic Soup label.

Mock-up for the veggie label design

Cans, cans, cans!

Luis's Fantastic Soup label design

After figuring out and finishing can production, the rest was pretty easy. Aisle signs, fruit and vegetable signs, some method of covering all the SKUs on the shelves (I ended up using red and green artist’s tape), and making sure we hid all the branding in the store, was relatively simple.

For the aisle signs, I used large cardboard boxes that were slated for recycling from a local art store, cut them down, rolled on a layer of house paint and used acrylic for the numbers.

Aisle signs in the making! I improvised with a newsprint stencil designed by Luis

After a couple weeks of intense preparation, we were ready for the shoot!

Dressing the set

We stocked 400 cans

Fantastic Soup!

It was certainly worth every fastidiously-spent penny and drop of sweat.

Check out the video at fantasticsoup.com.

1 Comment »

  1. Black says:

    I feel nostalgic already, like this is from another era or something. Can’t wait to the next time we make more of these promos!

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The Making of: Fantastic Soup’s 30-second Spot (Art Direction)

The Making of: Fantastic Soup's 30-second Spot (Art Direction)
When we formed Fantastic Soup in late 2009, we decided to start making fun little spots to promote ourselves. The first of these was based on a script written by Max, wherein a can of Fantastic Soup sitting among a shelf of boring soup cans beckons to a shopper in a grocery store.

Max’s script essentially called for a grocery store and a can of Fantastic Soup which
stutters and shakes
on the shelf among all the other, less fantastic soup cans.

With the help of our very resourceful friend Daniel, we quickly ended up with access to a local grocery store and started scouting.

The Before Photo

Continue reading…

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