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Avalon Films Applies Artistic Touch to Jeep Spots

A Spiritual Journey in a 2005 Liberty

Avalon Films Hank Benson recently shot two spots for Jeep about artists whose muse comes with a six-cylinder engine. Conceived by Detroit agency GlobalHue, the spots promote the Jeep Liberty to African American and Hispanic consumers. Self Expression is set in an art class where a teacher, overseeing her students work on ?self portraits urges them to ?show me whats inside you.

Nodding with admiration at the work of one particularly enthusiastic student, she says, ?Now thats what Im talking about! The neophyte artists portrait shows her at the wheel of a Jeep Liberty. The second spot employs a similar theme, following a young Hispanic artist as he drives through a city and works on a mural that adorns the side of the building. The focal point of his artwork, also on the theme of liberation, is an image of his new Jeep.

?We wanted a theme that would be relevant to both Hispanics and African Americans and we found that in art, which has a strong tradition in both communities, explained GlobalHue creative director Rob Hendrickson. ?The concepts for the spots were developed by members of our staff who are themselves fine artists and so the stories were very close to their hearts. It was therefore important to us that they felt true.

For Benson, the spots depict a kind of spiritual journey and as a result their success depended on honesty and authenticity. ?I spent a lot of time, even before I was awarded the job, interviewing painters and street artists, he explained. ?Doing so gave me a sense who these people are and I was then able to weave that into the casting, the way I shot the film and the art direction.

The time Benson spent in meeting with real artists paid off on the set, according to Hendrickson. ?By the time we started to shoot, Hank was able to speak the language, he said. ?He understood how these murals are created and where the artists find their influences and inspiration. As a result, that part of the process really flowed.

Benson scouted locations in San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto, before electing to shoot the spots in New York. The city, he said, with its strong connection with the fine arts, became another character in the stories. ?They had to be shot in New York, he said. ?I had to have the art direction of the city. In New York, theres art at every corner you turn. Its on the walls. Its on the sidewalks. Its in every store, every restaurant.

The vibe of the city also informed the rhythm of the spots, which Benson compared to a dance. ?The spot in the art class had the feel of hip hop or tap, while the Hispanic spot was more like a tango or salsa, he observed. ?I wanted to make each spot an art piece. There are elements of dance, painting and theater in each. That was the beauty of the concept and what made it beautiful to execute.

Both spots are notable for the complexity of their art direction, the subtleness of their storytelling and the nuanced performances Benson coaxes from the talent. ?What I wanted to do in the end was to create stories that have so many layers that you pick up something new and fresh each time you see them, he said. ?I think thats why they work so well.

Avalon Films has offices located at 33300 Thomas St., Farmington, Michigan 48336, and at 1501 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401. For more information, call (248) 473-9295 or (310) 394-8300.

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Related Keywords:Avalon Films, Hank Benson , GlobalHue

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