See also National Guardsmen save people trapped by tornado damage. and National Guardsmen rescue people trapped by flood waters.
Mikael Salomon of bi-coastal Original has directed a new, national advertising campaign for the Army National Guard and Washington D.C. agency LM&O highlighting the Guard’s role in aiding victims of natural disasters. A continuance of LM&O’s groundbreaking “Citizen Soldier” campaign, the three spots feature spectacular reenactments depicting Guardsmen (played by actual members of the Guard) saving lives in the aftermaths of a hurricane, a tornado and a forest fire.
Original also oversaw post work for the campaign, which included several months of complex CG and visual effects work.
“I’ve done a lot of military-related work, but this project was especially challenging,” says Salomon, a two-time Academy Award nominee whose experience in shooting military action includes directing several episodes of the award-winning HBO series Band of Brothers. “It’s a project that I am very happy to have worked on because of the respect I have for the mission of the National Guard. They accomplish incredible things.”
The production of the commercials was a major undertaking and included six days of shooting at Camp Roberts, near Pismo Beach in central California, and Joint Forces Training Base, near Long Beach. A variety of sophisticated military machinery was employed in the production. For a rescue sequence that appears in the hurricane spot, a Black Hawk helicopter was placed on top of a giant, custom-built gimble to simulate flight.
“Handling expensive military assets is an incredible responsibility, but Mikael has a lot of experience and is very confident,” recalls Original executive producer Marc Lasko. “He is extremely skilled and well prepared.”
For long shots, Salomon captured aerial footage of a suburban neighborhood with talent, standing on rooftops, but the flood waters, however, were added in post. “All of the water was CG,” explains Jonathan Del Gatto, who served as post production supervisor and editor for the campaign via Chicago-based Foundation. “The toughest shots were those where the helicopter is moving. They had to be composited frame by frame.”
The forest fire spot was created through similar means. Salomon shot the background environments with Guardsmen and talent playing victims; the fire itself was added during post.
The tornado spot was produced almost entirely practically. Original’s production crew created the image of a neighborhood devastated by storm by filling the scene with downed trees and power lines, an overturned bus, a wrecked boat and other debris.
“The National Guard is a world-class organization so it made sense to work with a world-class director like Mikael,” observes LM&O chief creative officer Dave Marinaccio. “We used high end talent for all aspects of this campaign.”

Titles: Storm, Fire, Flood Client: Army National Guard Agency: LM&O, Washington, D.C. Dave Marinaccio, creative director; Adam Chism and Jeff Wright, associate creative directors; Jessica Boyle, account supervisor; Mariam Djavadi and Jordan Rix, account executives; Jack Noone, agency producer. Production: Original, Culver City, Ca. Mikael Salomon, director; Marc Lasko, executive producer. Post: Foundation, Chicago. Jonathan Del Gatto, editor/post production supervisor.

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