Creating The “Behind The Scenes” For The 2013 Toyota Avalon Ad feat. Idris Elba

Behind The BTS

BTS Hub took 5 questions from their online audience and let them in on a little insight on the Making of The Toyota Avalon Ad “Behind The Scenes” feat. Idris Elba. Answers by Alex A. Acosta, Founder and Creative Director of BTS Hub and A3 Entertainment.

Idris Elba at Fox airfield.

Idris Elba at Fox Airfield, CA.

Q: How was interviewing Idris Elba?

Alex: Interviewing Idris was fun, but for the most part, we were stalking Idris on set. It’s part of the craft, really. You have to give the players their space while remaining unobtrusive and hidden. When we did get our one-on-one time with Idris, we found him to be very professional. We shook hands, adjusted cameras and mics, and were off with the questions. I’ve got several years of interviewing under my belt, and I can tell when someone is being genuine…that was Idris. I liked that about him, he was GQ smooth.

It dawned on me that Idris had just flown in from over seas and got straight to work. As soon as he was done, he was back on a jet and gone. Talk about being a trooper. If you watch the BTS featurette, you will see that there was plenty going on in those 3 days. And, if you consider jet-lag and non-stop filming, I bet Idris could hardly even see straight.

At the end of it all, we were very happy with our interview. I was personally gratified knowing we had documented some great memories for Idris, some fantastic marketing material for the agency, and some great footage us!

Alex walking to set with the Aviator Jib on his back.

Alex walking to set with the Aviator Jib on his back.

Q: How do you stay invisible on set?

Alex: Well, I’m definitely not a magician, but it did take a few years for me to start getting it right. In the beginning, there was a time where I thought my full name was “Alex Getoutoftheshot!”, I’d heard it so many times. But that was then. Now, the crew knows I’m going to be there with a team. I also travel with smaller-type gear. My goal is to blend in with the crew. I guess to be invisible on set is to make sure you stay invisible to the right people at the right time. Kind of like chasing a squirrel around a tree…the little guy always stays on the other side of the trunk and peeks out every now and then. Directors and talent are creatives, you have to give them their space.

If you want to talk about blending in with the crew, on this particular shoot, I found myself actually helping out. At the Fox Airfield location, there were 3 different units shooting and setting up simultaneously, things were really moving fast. The director (Antony Hoffman) needed a light to be moved and I just happened to be closest to it. So I did. We did a little dance as to where the light would go and Antony was off again.

Kobe on set.

Kobe on set. Jump to the story here.

On the set for the Kobe Bryant / Smart Car BTS shoot, I noticed the director (Tarsem Singh) giving a concerned look in the direction of a prop cart that could have been potential trouble for the stunt driver. We were all certain he [the driver] could have handled it, but our spidey senses were going off, and after the first take, I moved that too. The cart made a racket on the cobble stone street, but an approving smile from Tarsem was all I needed to know I was in the right.

In BTS documentation, you’re either going to be a problem, or your going to help solve a problem. Having good, predictive intuition of where to be and where NOT to be helps a lot.

Putting good use to a tripod, slider, and the Aviator Jib.

Putting good use to a tripod, slider, and the Aviator Jib.

Q: How long does a BTS shoot take?

Alex: Depending on the style I’m going for, Behind The Scenes shoots can go on all day. It is my job to capture the prep, the candids, the mini-stories, the interviews, and sometimes the break down. A good rule of thumb is to have more footage, than not enough. As the production days progress, the back-stories start to reveal themselves and then I can start pacing myself. Once I have a solid story, I can also start gauging when to stop shooting, or when to carry on.

Another rule…Never shoot during lunch. Get your grub on when you can. Plus, nobody likes watching talent and crew members eat.

Q: What’s the difference in documenting an action-based television commercial vs. a standard TVC?

Toyota Avalon BTS-71Alex: The differences between the 2 ad styles range from length of shoot, to story line, to theme etc…

Either way, they are always fun and challenging. At the end of the shoot, I create a captivating video package for marketing, press kits, social media, and more. I love wracking my brain, searching for a different angle, and I always try to top my last project.

When it comes to style, I would say that I have a super macho, Chuck Norris-like attraction to action flicks. During these projects, I can take more aggressive liberties in the creative process and my blood gets to pumping as I ninja around set. ::Kicks air::

Idris getting his cool walk on.

Idris getting his cool walk on.

Q: How did the edit come together?

Alex: When it came to editing, I already had my shots mapped out; a mental story-board if you will. I made my selects and started splicing to match the theme. With Idris’ interview, I took his text and produced a story to compliment the brand’s message. But most important, was the music. I dedicated a few days to finding the best Spy-music composition to reflect my exact wants for this project. Once I found the track, the video came to life and practically edited itself. Creating the “Behind The Scenes” for the 2013 Toyota Avalon ad feat. Idris Elba, was complete!


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I hope you guys had as much fun watching our latest BTS creation as we had making it! Don’t forget to like BTS Hub and A3 Entertainment on FaceBook, and follow us @BTSHUBdotCOM and @a3ent on Twitter. We’d love to hear more questions from you!

BTS Hub and A3 Entertainment documented 3 days of television commercial magic featuring the Golden Globe winning British actor Idris Elba in Toyota Avalon’s ad campaign, Only The Name Remains. Commercial director Antony Hoffman spear headed the production co., Believe Media, while under the creative guide of business-building agency, Burrell Communications

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