Randal Ford teamed up with BBDO SF, Charlie Uniform Tango, and a posse of pets from Hollywood Animals to produce a series of live-action assets for Crave Pet Foods.
Crave Pet Foods’ motto is simple: feed your pets like the animals they are. The UK-based company makes high-protein, grain-free food for cats and dogs. The concept, developed by BBDO San Francisco, was to have a gang of cats and dogs strutting toward the camera. Randal Ford was charged with bringing it to life.
“The concept was inspired by Reservoir Dogs and all those old westerns where cowboys or a posse of outlaws swagger toward the camera in slow-mo. This brand is really cool, and they want to respect the animal inside and satisfy their true nature. Give them the food they need and cut out the junk they don’t,” Randal explained.
The idea was relatively simple, but getting seven cats and dogs of various breeds and instincts to walk toward the camera presented some unique technical challenges on set and in post. Charlie Uniform Tango was responsible for production and post-production; the cats and dogs were from Hollywood Animals.
“They approached us with the idea of all these animals walking toward the camera at the same pace, but there was no way that could actually be done. And not only that, but dogs and cats don’t have a casual swagger. They have a pretty quick walking pace,” said Randal.
In advance of the two days of shooting in Los Angeles, one day for the cats and the next for the dogs, the trainers worked with the animals to slow their cadence down. On set, they created seven lanes, one for each animal, and shot them individually walking down their lane. The shots were layered together, and the frame rate was adjusted to match the animals’ cadence as closely as possible.
“We had to really slow down the Bengal cat on the far left. Bengals really show their primal cat instincts, and they’re so fast and strong. The cream-colored cat, on the other hand, Butter, she just moseyed right along like a pro,” said Randal.
The team had a long list of shots to accomplish for each animal according to their look and nature. They wanted to emphasize the long-haired animals’ coats using a special effects fan, and the “hunter not gatherer” natures of the more primal species like the Bengal.
“I can’t tell you how tough it was to shoot these cats. I photograph and direct animals—and kids—all the time, and I’m pretty patient on set, but boy did these cats test our patience! These are the best of the best Hollywood animals, and they had been prepped in advance, but cats, they just do not want to walk in a straight line. We literally spent eight hours herding cats,” laughed Randal.
From 16 hours of shooting, the team produced nearly 80 live-action assets from five-second Instagram stories to 20-second video spots to be used across a range of mediums in the US, UK, and Germany. “My team at Charlie Uniform Tango were instrumental in making this project such a success,” added Randal.
Agency, BBDO SF
Director, Randal Ford
Executive Producer, Jeff Elmore
DP, David G. Wilson
Production & Post Production by Charlie Uniform Tango
Post Production Executive Producer, Keith Munley
Editor, Evan Linton
Artie Pena, Colorist/Flame Artist
Lola Lott, CEO/Principal Charlie Uniform Tango