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Synthetic Pictures Cooks Up Apocalyptic Back Yard Burgers

Director Justin Corsbie creates ?Flamethrower? comedy spot for back yard burgers (November 29, 2005)

Synthetic Pictures' Director Justin Corsbie creates "Flamethrower" comedy spot for back yard burgers

Synthetic Pictures' Director Justin Corsbie creates "Flamethrower" comedy spot for back yard burgers

Theres the Do It Yourself way to get the taste of blackened chicken on your grill and theres the Back Yard Burgers way. ?Flamethrower, an incendiary new spot directed by Synthetic Pictures' Justin Corsbie demonstrates the difference.

The commercial for the regional casual dining chain, from The Allison Agency/Little Rock, finds a man donning a flame-retardant silver suit and face guard so he can prepare blackened chicken for his wife and daughter on their backyard grill. With a flamethrower strapped to his back he proceeds to bombard the chicken on the charcoal grill as his family looks on. Quirky perspective shots capture him cooking at full blast, even aiming a fireball straight at the camera.

?Theres a better way to get that great backyard our blackened chicken sandwich, advises the voiceover as the spot cuts to tempting tabletop footage. The man with a flamethrower reappears bending over the remnants of his grill in his thoroughly charred backyard, where a tree branch is still alight and flames lick the head of a plastic pink flamingo.

?We interviewed tons of productions companies across the southeast and chose Synthetic because of the presentation they put on that made the case for why they should shoot the spot, recalls Bill Brookshire, creative director/producer at The Allison Agency. ?Justin gave us new takes on the creative. He showed us his vision, and thats what made the difference.

As one of four spots for Back Yard Burgers, which Corsbie shot with DP Jay P. Lipa in two days, ?Flamethrower posed numerous safety issues that typically surround a production where pyrotechnics play a key role. Effects technicians and firefighters were on set, a stuntman stepped into the role of dad after the talent lowered his visor, and Plexiglas shielded the 35mm camera from head-on shots of the flamethrower.

The pyro elements for all of the spots were shot at the same time. While Corsbie was perched on a 45-foot Titan crane to capture a mushroom-cloud explosion for one of the spots, he had a birds-eye view as his carefully-dressed, charred backyard was washed away by the safety hoses.

?Everything got trampled and washed out due to the safety precautions for the pyrotechnics, so we had to scramble to make the yard look charred again, says Corsbie. ?We torched a tree and dressed the yard with more black soot and charcoal. But I wasnt sure that the yard looked authentic enough.

Corsbie worked with colorist Rick Stevenson at Filmworkers Club in Dallas to further blacken the landscape in contrast to the yards original bright green highlights. As if it werent enough dealing with the extensive pyro effects, Corsbie also had to deal with a tornado watch. Because of the threatening weather, it was necessary to alter the sky using telecine and compositing to get a uniformly sunny look.

Editor Stephen Bohls at Austins Match Frame was called on for additional flame-related effects. ?We needed to do some compositing to get that long, drawn out, perfect flame that toasts the grill, Corsbie explains. ?Because we had modified the flamethrower for extra output, the erratic high winds made it particularly hard to control.

The winds made practical smoke effects appear to be coming from a source instead of drifting and settling naturally over the charred backyard. ?So we wound up compositing the shots and some of the smoke to get the look I was going for, says Corsbie. ?It took a combination of practical effects, telecine and post to achieve the look that we envisioned.

The result is a hyper-real suburban apocalypse.

?Justin didnt pretend he had all the necessary specialists on staff for this spot, but he knew all the right people, says Bill Brookshire. ?He assembled a really good team which raised the level of the creative. The spot turned out so much better than we ever imagined.

?Flamethrower has been tailored, with changing tabletop footage, to work with three of Back Yard Burgers blackened products: the blackened chicken sandwich, blackened chicken salad and the Black Jack burger.

About Synthetic Pictures
Synthetic Pictures is an award-winning production company with a diverse roster of directors specializing in the production of TV commercials, music videos and filmed entertainment. Based in Austin, Texas - with satellite production offices in New York and LA - it has attracted a long list of prestigious clients, including Wal-Mart, DreamWorks, Reebok, Champs Sports, Southwest Airlines, Miracle-gro, American Heart Association, Hewlett-Packard, Fuddruckers and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

For additional information go to or call 1.800.535.3033.


Client: Back Yard Burgers,?Flamethrower 1x :30

Agency: The Allison Agency/Little Rock,President: Chris Allison, Creative Director/Producer: Bill Brookshire, Copywriter/Audio Producer: Jay Stanley,Art Director: Eric Burssey, Account Services: Angie Morgan

Production Co: Synthetic Pictures/Austin, Director: Justin Corsbie, D.P: Jay P. Lipa, Production Art Director: Ian Kasnoff, Producer: Chris Ohlson (Shot on location in Austin)

Editorial Co: Match Frame/Austin, Editor: Stephen Bohls, OnLine: Stephen Bohls

Transfer Co: Filmworkers Club/Dallas,Colorist: Rick Stevenson

Sound Design: Soundscapes/Little Rock,Sound Designer: Scott Minor

Music: Stock

Audio Post: Soundscapes/Little Rock, Mixer: Scott Minor

Page: 1

Related Keywords:Synthetic Pictures, Back Yard Burgers, Justin Corsbie, Filmworkers Club, pyro effects, telecine, compositing,


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