THE BIOGRAPHY OF CHICAGOS MARINA CITY
Written by Steven Dahlman
It was part of a larger campaign idea that they decided not to go with, recalled Simpson. But then when it was time to come back around and go back to the client with new ideas, I think it was about a year later, 2006, the agency really had a lot of heart for the idea and went back to the client and they said, oh yeah, we remember that, we like that.
Working with writer Jeff White, Simpson set out to create a spot to sell Allstates accident forgiveness option. They hired Phil Joanou to direct. Joanous directing experience included feature films such as Gridiron Gang and music videos for U2.
We liked how we interacted with him on the phone, said Simpson, and we liked his ideas, and he is from a good production company, Im sure that had something to do with it, and so all the stars aligned and his vision for it was aligned with our vision for it.
They also liked Joanous experience with cars and big productions, according to John Pratt, a freelance producer for Burnett. He basically had the background of what we were looking for. He had a film background, as well as a commercial background that we felt was right for this spot. He understood about high-speed car racing, big stunts, because obviously we shot the car off of the tower twice. He had those key elements that we were looking for.
Marina City cautiously receptive
Once it was decided Marina City would be the location, it was up to location managers Al Cohn and Brady Breen to make it happen. Cohn made the advance arrangements with Marina City, Chicago police and fire departments, the Coast Guard, a salvage company, and others and then Breen managed the location once filming began.
Armed with a presentation by the special effects crew of MJZ, a commercial production company based in Los Angeles, it was Cohn who had to sell the commercial property management at Marina City on the idea of letting them launch a car off its parking ramp.
MJZ had done tests in Los Angeles and had made the case that the stunt would work. I was really able to go in there with an excellent presentation by the effects company, recalled Cohn. They had done their homework and were very professional.
Marina Citys management had two big concerns. Just make sure that whatever we did number one, it would be safe. Of course, we shared that concern. And number two, that we would return the property in the same condition as when we found it if not better.
But they were receptive, says Pratt. Obviously, they had done this before because basically the [story] board was based off the movie The Hunter. Granted, Im sure the same people werent around at the time. But I think their initial [reaction] was excitement, to be a part of it and hopefully they could make it work.
Three days of filming culminate in splashdown
The Marina City scenes were filmed over one weekend in mid-October 2006, following a day in Chicagos financial district and another day shooting the chase car a light blue 1971 Chevy Malibu rented from a classic car owner racing up and down streets in the Loop.
Then early on a Sunday morning on October 15, 2006, starting between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., a crowd of about 300 people lined Wacker Drive between State and Dearborn Streets, watching a crew of 150 film the stunt from seven camera angles. There was one camera on the parking ramp, three along the Dearborn Street Bridge, one on the roof of 55 West Wacker diagonal from Marina City, one southeast on Wacker Drive, and one camera mounted inside the car.
A pressurized air cannon propelled a black 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass off the 17th floor of the parking ramp. It executed a graceful somersault and plunged into the Chicago River, where Chicago Police tugboats helped retrieve it. The car was then hooked to a cable and lifted by crane onto Dearborn Street.
The Oldsmobile had been heavily modified. Fluids were removed, making it more environmentally friendly for the Chicago River. The engine was taken out to make the car lighter. The rear end was filled with foam to make it float when it hit the river and easier to retrieve.
The air cannon something new for the stunt, as in 1979 according to Pratt, they put a brick on the gas pedal and hoped for the best was bolted to a main support post of the parking ramp. There were two loud explosions, once when the hydraulic device struck the rear of the car, and again seconds later when the car struck the water.
The cost of the commercial was estimated at around $1 million. Phil Joanou told the Chicago Sun-Times, Were trying to create a cinematic experience. If I were shooting this for a $50 million movie I wouldnt be doing it any different.
The stunt was done twice, the first car taking off at about 8 a.m. and the second around 9 a.m. Both cars reportedly went off flawlessly. James Dando, a tourist from Toronto, asked Chicago Tribune entertainment reporter Terry Armour, Does this happen all the time in Chicago? Its just something you dont see every day.
The crew had to finish before 10 a.m. when the city raised the bridges on the Chicago River to let sailboats pass through.
As she watched from the parking ramp on monitors with the client, the stunt, says Simpson, went amazingly well.
The only problem was that one of the cameras did not get the shot on the first try. There was a bit of tension, she recalled with a laugh. The important thing is, the second time, everything worked.
The spot aired for the first time during the Allstate Sugar Bowl college football game on January 3, 2007. Allstate, says Simpson, loved it. They seemed really happy.
I think there was excitement across the entire city, believes Pratt. It was good for the city...it was good for Allstate. It was good for Phil Joanou and the production company. It was good for Leo Burnett. So it was a big shoot for everybody involved.
Allstate claims it got millions of dollars in free publicity and that in January 2007, sales increased 28 percent over the previous year.
Watch the spot...
|Last updated 4-Jun-12||