Redstone Federal Credit Union is always making us think.
They cooked up a checking account and debit card promotion where users get five cents back for every debit card transaction, and had the idea of "raining nickels." They then tasked us we creating a concept that would bring that to life in a thirty-second television commercial.
To get that across we created a wedding, a restaurant, and even a parade where nickels were flying everywhere.
Phil Schmidt wrote and produced the commercial, with Todd Terry directing and Joey Skelton editing. In one of those "TV magic" tricks, very few of the coins are authentic legal tender. We decided to go with plastic prop coins because a rainstorm of the real deal would be pretty noisy... and since throwing actual nickels at people might not have been a good idea, anyway. Our actors were already wearing hardhats, we didn't want to have to add safety glasses, too.
While we had more than 1,200 fake nickels, it was still difficult to make them look like a real torrent of coins coming down, especially in the true "raining" scenes. In those cases the practical nickels were augmented by computer-generated ones that we created.
This was a big cast, with wedding guests, a bride and groom, marching band, majorettes, a beauty queen, and parade watchers. We brought in Merrill Capps and Mystie Smith from Atlanta as our principal actors.
Interestingly enough, prop nickels cost almost exactly five cents each. Hmmmm.