Taylor Swift Sony Commercial

A couple of months ago I got a call to travel to Nashville to shoot a Sony commercial directed by the Malloys. I didn’t get any more info, just a plane ticket. When I got there I found out we were shooting Taylor Swift in the historic Ryman Auditorium. 

Our DP was Giles Dunning who I have worked with a few times before and I operated the second camera. Since it was a Sony job we had to shoot Sony cameras and he chose to go with F3s and Nikon primes. Sony also supplied us with an A99 full frame DSLR that wasn’t commercially available yet and I took a liking to it right away. I think a few of those shots are in the edit.

The concept of the spot was pretty cool, Sony held a contest to be Taylor Swift’s personal photographer for a day with their new NEX-5R camera. 21-year-old Emily Tebbetts won the contest and she was genuinely excited to be shooting Taylor… actually so was I.

One of my tasks was to shoot the tour bus driving around Nashville. It’s a big bus and there is a lot of traffic in Nashville so this was a little tricky to coordinate but our first AD Chris Foote had my back.

My first shot was the bus driving along the Cumberland River shot from the opposite side. The bus radioed they were ready but when I asked for our longest lens my AC pulled out an 85mm which was not the 200mm I was looking for. Somehow that lens had gone with the other camera and it was too late to go back now so I had to shoot it with the 85mm.

My next challenge was to shoot the bus driving on one bridge into Nashville from the camera van driving on another bridge into Nashville. I hung out the window and set my exposure and focus on the bus but when it got out on the bridge the sky was about half a stop overexposed. They called us back to shoot Taylor at this point and when I showed Giles the footage he was quick to point out that I had the wrong lens in one shot and had overexposed another shot.

It’s a bit odd that I’m writing about the challenges of filming a bus when I was shooting one of the biggest stars in the world that day but filming her went just fine. She was beautiful and pleasant to work with and nothing went wrong.

Back to this silly bus though, at the end of the day I went back out to try to get those shots again but there was a football game going on and we got stuck in gridlock for over an hour before giving up. Fortunately I had gotten enough footage for the one second that is in the edit in my first attempt and it was now time to drink beers with the crew at Tootsie’s. That’s a wrap. Here’s the commercial.

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