Move Over, Spielberg: SpareFoot Made a Short Film!

By    July 18, 2013

Chario

In 1979, Francis Ford Coppola dragged his cast and crew to the sweltering jungles of the Philippines to create what would become widely acknowledged as one of the greatest films of all time, “Apocalypse Now.” In 2013, an Austin startup had the same dream. Sort of.

Armed with a camera, a handful of crazy and dedicated employees, and a yellow Hummer H2 from Toys “R” Us with a mounted mobile shredder, SpareFoot set out to fulfill the completely realistic fantasy of becoming the biggest, baddest startup there ever was.

The dream? To make a legendary recruiting short film that would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about wanting to work for us. And, of course, in typical SpareFoot fashion, to have fun, drink champagne and consume inappropriate amounts of Franklin Barbecue along the way. We sacrificed our weekend, our office and our dignities during a rigorous two-day film shoot. In the end, it was magical and life-affirming–an epic journey worthy of Tolkien.

Here’s the SpareFoot recruiting film:

Here are the takeaways from the filming experience:

Teambuilding Exercise

This was the first (and probably last) time that sales star Mike Wright had to look afraid.

Stars Among Us
Apparently, we have a bunch of Meryls and Nicholsons in our midst–and we didn’t even know it! Who could predict that co-founder Chuck Gordon could adopt a convincing Transatlantic accent, or that co-founder Mario Feghali’s eyes could be so intense and unblinking? Who knew that Erin Fitzer could embody the soul and spirit of Vin Diesel, or that Rachel Morse, the sweetest person on Earth, could play intimidating so well? It just confirms how multitalented SpareFeet are–our own Scooter Womack puts James Van Der Beek’s crying skills to shame.

DawsonCrying

Making a Film is Really Hard
With the exception of our talented director Matt Sobel, this was the first time that many of us were involved in any sort of film production. Our finished product, which modestly clocked in at just under six minutes, took three months to write, plan and execute. All of that hard work and preparation culminated in a two-day shoot that–even with all of our planning and groundwork–still felt frenetic and delicate. In the end, you just have to trust that things will work out (and don’t forget to breathe).

Look, Simba.

Look, Simba.

If your startup is thinking about investing in a recruiting video, here are some things we learned that will make your life easier:

  • Start planning early. This is especially true if you’re trying to accommodate everyone’s schedules. We were unlucky enough to be able to film only during Father’s Day weekend, which meant that a lot of people couldn’t show up.
  • Make sure your office space is ideal for filming. As much as we love our office, it was a director’s nightmare. Our lobby and hallways were too dark, and we had to resort to guerilla tactics at the last minute to make sure everything looked good on camera. Keep in mind that you might have to invest in film lights instead of relying on the ceiling lights.
  • It’s not as glamorous as it seems. One thing that we completely overlooked until the last minute was how much of a problem the air conditioner was. To us, the AC was virtually silent, but when we brought in the talented twins Erik and Joe Duemig of Twin Sound LLC to scope out the office, they immediately warned us that the AC would ruin sound recording. As a result, we spent our entire weekend without AC in much of the office and the 100-degree Texas heat pressing against us through the windows. (Any sweat you see throughout the short film is real, not simulated.) Definitely not what you think of when you think of moviemaking–but it’s a reality. Be prepared!
  • Make a schedule and stick with it. This feeds into the planning you’ll do beforehand, but be sure to provide your cast and crew with call times so that they’re not standing around waiting all day for their assigned scenes. It’s also important to stick to the schedule; sometimes, you just have to be humane and move onto the next shot, versus getting Fincher-esque and doing 80 takes of the same line. Luckily, our director had the same philosophy.
  • Kill your darlings. We started with a 27-page script, which translates roughly to a 27-minute film. No one wants to sit through that! As hard as it is, you have to be ruthless about cutting things that aren’t absolutely crucial to your message–especially if they’re inside jokes that only your company will understand. As Faulkner said: “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”
Our desks are usually tidier than this, we promise.

Our desks are usually tidier than this, we promise.

SpareFoot Is Amazing
It’s a testament to how incredible our employees are that they would willingly give up their weekend to spend more time in the office than they already do during the week. Despite the waiting, sweating and frequent shouts of “QUIET ON THE SET!”, every single person remained good-natured and extremely adaptable. From our super- talented analytics expert Brett Chauvière (Hungry Sales Guy), who sacrificed precious bones for the shock-collar scene in the kitchen, to our marketing pros Rachel Greenfield and Tony Emerson for bravely parading their bodies around in golden unitards (officially called “Zentais”), we couldn’t have asked for a more passionate and perfect bunch of coworkers. Thanks, SpareFoot–this video is dedicated to you.

Below, check out some more behind-the-scenes shots from our wild weekend.

Our fearless director, Matt Sobel, at Mopac Media.

Our fearless director, Matt Sobel, at Mopac Media.

Pueblo Viejo breakfast tacos definitely helped ease the pain of our 8 a.m. weekend call times.

Pueblo Viejo breakfast tacos helped ease our 8 a.m. call times.

Our amazing Chef Ari Dvorin (Shefari) put this incredible spread together for the shoot AND found a suckling pig. He can’t be tamed.

Our amazing Chef Ari Dvorin (Shefari) put this incredible spread together for the shoot AND found a suckling pig. He can’t be tamed.

Here you can see just a hint of the massive Franklin BBQ feast we later devoured.

Here’s just a hint of the massive Franklin Barbecue feast that we later devoured.

Not to be outdone, but when will you ever eat a Texas-shaped cheese?

Not to be outdone, but when will you ever eat Texas-shaped cheese?

Serving some Game of Thrones realness.

Serving some “Game of Thrones” realness.

Huge thanks to Signature Ice Sculptures LLC for this masterpiece!

Huge thanks to Signature Ice Sculptures for this masterpiece!

Usually, it’s the other way around.

Usually, it’s the other way around.

Check out that painting of Chuck’s face: our amazing Customer Experience expert Melissa van de Putte stayed up until 5 a.m. to finish it!

Check out that painting of Chuck Gordon’s face. Our amazing Customer Experience expert Melissa van de Putte stayed up till 5 a.m. to finish it!

No “I’m on a Boat” jokes were cracked during the making of this movie.

No “I’m on a Boat” jokes were cracked during the making of this film.

A few Chuck-les amid a grueling, AC-less portion of filming.

A few Chuck-les amid a grueling, AC-less portion of filming.

We couldn’t stop laughing at Chuck’s, “Can we trust you?” We thought he sounded like Scooby-Doo!

We couldn’t stop laughing at one of Chuck’s lines, “Can we trust you?” We thought he sounded like Scooby-Doo!

Not to confused with the 2012 hit Man on a Ledge.

Not to confused with the 2012 hit Man on a Ledge.

Roof 2

Can we trust you? Don’t let the Commodore schtick scare you–we’re hiring, and we’d love to meet you! Visit http://www.sparefoot.com/jobs to check out our career opportunities. We promise not to let you fall off the building. (We’ll catch you first, obviously.)

Jenny is part of the marketing team at SpareFoot. She currently lives in Austin, TX and likes sushi, Faulkner and Asian horror movies.

  • Lucky13X

    One of the best movie shorts I have ever seen… in my life.

  • Jesus
  • http://thestoragefacilitator.com Rachel Greenfield

    Thank you, Jesus!

  • NO THANK YOU

    I AM VERY UNHAPPY WITH SPAREFOOT.COM. A COUPLE MONTHS AGO I MOVED INTO A STORAGE UNIT AND I DON’T LIKE THE FACILITY AT ALL. SO RECENTLY I CAME ACROSS AN AD FOR SPAREFOOT ABOUT AN OFFER AT A DIFFERENT FACILITY SO I MADE A RESERVATION FOR THE UNIT BEING ADVERTISED AND THEN CALLED THEM TO ASK A COUPLE QUESTIONS. WHEN I CALLED I WAS TOLD THAT THE UNIT IN THE AD WAS SOMETHING DIFFERENT EVEN THOUGH IT SHOWED A PICTURE AND EVERYTHING. SO I HAD TO CANCEL MY RESERVATION. I THINK SPAREFOOT.COM AND NW SELF STORAGE SUCK!!!!!!!

  • http://thedsmgroup.com/ Jason Diller

    Really awesome stuff. If I didn’t already love my job, our pig roasts, etc… I would give you guys a call.

    Great job with the video. Cheers!

  • Jenny Zhang

    Thanks, Jason :) Pig roasters unite!

  • http://www.theclippingpathindia.com/ Clipping Path

    Thats cool :)
    Cheers from your friends at Clipping Path Clipping Path Service

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