With over twelve years of experience shooting architecture and interiors, Atlanta-based photographer John Fulton was the perfect fit for AMC Theatres’ new hybrid campaign. John has a long-standing relationship with Kansas City-based ad agency Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, so when they reached out to his rep about the project, he was thrilled to get the chance to work with them again.
In the past, John’s work with Sullivan, Higdon & Sink has been stills-focused, and mostly outdoor shoots of ranchers or similar projects. Having seen his recent video shoot for Aflac, they offered him the chance to shoot video and stills for AMC Theatres, which was a great change of pace.
Bringing in Jeff Dillon as the DP and Daniel Pederson as Assistant Director, John directed two 30-second spots, around a dozen shorter videos for social media purposes, and photographed a full architecture stills shoot. Most of the shots would have talent involved, and John would only have two days on location to pull it off. This would prove to be a challenging project, but John was up for the task!
The purpose of the shoot was to highlight all of AMC’s top of the line amenities and show people enjoying them, so it was fitting that they wanted to shoot at their brand-new theatre in Chicago. To put the shoot together, John worked closely with Producer John Olsen, who is based in Chicago, to source all the crew and equipment necessary for both the video and stills teams.
We had a very specific window to shoot everything before the theatre opened to the public, so my team and I pushed to address every possible decision and variable before we arrived on site. I felt this was important enough that I flew to Chicago a week before the shoot just to do the location scouting.
While John has managed hybrid shoots before involving stills and motion, this project was unique since both teams were working simultaneously, which was a necessary decision due to the short time-frame they had on location.
It was a little like learning to play the piano, having both hands thinking and moving independently at the same time. In action, it meant that I’d direct my motion team, run back to check on my stills team to assess their progress, usually I’d have to grab a light and paint a few things here and there to my liking, then run back to the motion team, assess the last take with the client, and give further direction. Then repeat!
Having the shoot so meticulously planned turned out to be invaluable for John, and despite the challenge of managing two teams at the same time, the shoot was a huge success!
I ingrained in my head every single detail of the shoot for weeks beforehand so I could effectively direct both teams while staying focused on how everything would come together in the final cuts and post. To help keep things running smoothly, I also decided to fly a DP and AD from Atlanta that I’ve worked with many times to Chicago for the shoot. They know my sensibilities and were able to help both teams move forward.
Since the theatre was in the final stages of construction before opening to the public, a lot of the digital interfaces were not quite set up yet. The talent and team had to familiarize themselves greatly with what the composite images on the digital interfaces would be so they could ensure they would work in post-processing. To achieve the final look, they took tons of takes so the talent’s hands would be interacting with the correct locations on the screens in the final shots.
In the end, the AMC team was overwhelmingly impressed with the professionalism of the shoot and loved the final results. One VP at AMC even shared with John that these are her favorite photos from one of their campaigns!
See more of John at johnfultonphotography.com!