Wasa Be-Tokyo, director Makoto Hirano and agency ADK called upon Fixer to put together their shoot for Toshiba at New York’s historic Grand Central Terminal. The client, together with Grand Central installed LED lights to line the great hall to better illuminate the landmark’s most notable space. Wanting to highlight this product, the commercial was commissioned at the highest levels of the venerable electronics giant.
Because of their close relationship, Grand Central allowed our crew to film from the 5th floor catwalks at the East and West ends of the building. Since 2001, no commercial or narrative production has been permitted to do so because of logistical and security concerns. Working closely with the location, we were able to successfully lobby for wider permissions.
While there are a number of challenges working at a location such as Grand Central, there are people within the Metropolitan Transit Authority who are designated liaisons that make filming, permitting and logistics much easier than one might think. Our location manager had a long-standing relationship with the film contact so with the lines of communication open, there were no surprises. There are rush hour restrictions on the weekdays so we chose to shoot on a Saturday evening into Sunday morning since we would also get 3 hours to shoot while the Terminal is closed to the public.
The commercial was shot on an Arri Alexa employing both a Fisher dolly as well as Steadicam to achieve the fluid look. The actors were all cast locally in New York. Extras were used sparingly around each of our principles to hide the general public. For the widest shots, we shot while the terminal was open with the general public walking through frame unrecognizable.
Another interesting note is that the weather in New York was brutal in the winter of 2013-2014. During our initial location scout there was a polar vortex which plunged temperatures to -10 celsius. During the days before and after the shoot there were several snowstorms challenging the infrastructure of the City. At the end of the day, New York is used to cold weather and snow so it never became a huge problem.
One of our favorite productions to date, it was certainly an amazing experience to shoot in Grand Central. Executive Producer and Line Producer Eric Brown grew up going in and out of the city through Grand Central Terminal and it was a dream realized to finally shoot there.