Getting the call to grill food for a Weber commercial shoot evokes two feelings: excitement and trepidation. The excitement is simple. The opportunity to work with an incredibly talented group of friends who share an equal passion for a colorful portable gas grill is palpable. The trepidation is making sure everything that comes off a hot grate is perfect.
Weber shoots are all about realism and while there is no doubt the food we grill is real, it’s one thing to make a great meal for a set time, it’s another to grill different stages of a great meal over a ten hour day.
To make matters even more complicated, the food is but one gear in a larger, ever moving wheel.
Whether it’s hurry and up and wait, or we need you now, it’s all about the timing…and avoiding the fire ants.
For the 2015 Q in Color shoot, our teams from Weber and Rabble + Rouser headed deep into the heart of Austin, Texas. Over three days of shooting, we moved from the deep quiet woods, to a beautiful lake bluff, to a vibrant downtown roof deck.
No matter where we were, the Q went and the Q performed.
While the Q was the star of the show, it was also the workhorse behind the scenes.
I worked again with the wonderful, Marsha Capen, the managing editor for all of Weber’s cookbooks.
We have something of a…rapport, I guess you could say. While we give it our all grilling the best possible looking and tasting food, we also have an incredible amount of fun doing it. When we work, laughter is not far behind.
The Q is a portable colorful dynamo. It can literally grill anywhere, so in order to showcase its flexibility, we traveled to remote locations. Two of our three days of shooting were so remote running water and creature comforts were unheard of. This always brings a challenge to field grilling. Fortunately, armed with experience and a lot of behind the scenes help, you would never know.
If we were asked one time, we were asked ten times, “Is the food safe to eat?” Our answer was always, “Yes!” Now while the food was good to eat, when it was time to eat it, of course, some movie magic was used. Now the magic was not to make the food look better, but to show how the food was grilled.
For Huevos Rancerhos, a cast iron skillet was cut apart to help give a point of view of the talent cracking an egg.
For some wonderfully drool inducing bone-in ribeyes, the bottom of a Q was cut out to allow the camera to film from “inside” the grill, capturing the talent flipping steaks.
Real food, awesome shots, and not exactly something simple for any of us to capture in our own backyards!
Speaking of point of view, how exactly do you capture the talent’s point of view? Place them in a large camera helmet. I have to give them credit, it’s fairly easy to carry a Q, crack an egg, or flip a steak, but try doing it with your vision obstructed by a camera. There is a reason they are called talent and it’s not just for acting.
I still marvel at the amount of work that goes into making a thirty second commercial. While it takes 10 hours to film on spot, this is built on countless days of planning, writing, and developing the creative and production process. It is no simple task.
Upon looking back, there are a lot of personal takeaways from the week.
The platter of grilled ribeyes perched on the picnic table at sunset, the warm lights of downtown Austin, as seen from our “Q Deck,” and the rousing waves of applause and cheers from the Weber & Rabble teams as a shot came off “just right.” The cast and crew loved it, as when something was right, there was no guessing, they knew.
Marsha and I spent more time in grocery stores in two days than I spent all of last month put together and I shop, a lot.
We pushed the Q to high heat, low heat, direct heat, indirect heat, and all points in between.
While we were always happy with the results, it was the oohs and aahs from talent, who would watch with anticipation as the food was shuttled to the set that really made our day. Those smiles you see when they are eating the bananas? Just like the food, they are quite real and all brought to you by the colorful letter, Q.