AUDL's New York Empire 'Lil' Babbitt' promos

I wanted to create a series of on-air promos that would draw attention to the New York Empire star player Jeff Babbitt. One key element was that the ads needed to treat ultimate like any other sport because, well,  it is.

Spike Lee's early 2000s Nike ads with a puppet version of Penny Hardaway called Lil' Penny came to mind. Mind you, it's not easy to create a fine-looking puppet much less one that could walk, talk and hold a cell phone. In fact the puppet maker Charlie Kanev had to create a unique design and puppeteer Jessi Riese (from the Swedish Marionette Theater in Central Park) had to operate him proficiently. DP Andy Poland pulled out some tricks and we ended up shooting three promos in one day with a skeleton crew. Post Editor Andrew WK Betsch put it all together and filmmaker Barry Bangs provided the unique voice of Lil Babbitt.


This shoot was a challenge. The script was based on a fever dream of a bike messenger seeing her own death in a painting at an art gallery. How to make it come to life? Spend many months casting. Become part of the messenger scene by joining alleycat races (turns out, I love alleycat racing and even finished top ten in one race). Schedule shoots based on the availability of DP Shachar Langlev and actress Joanna Schubert. Find a friend to connect me to a good props manager. Use top alleycat racer Dominican Chris to get some of those in-traffic shots (he hand-held a camera while rollerblading). Track down all the indie artists I loved and try to get them to sign releases. Four years after that dream this film played at festivals. Whew.

NYC Bike Messenger Footage

With Kaya I never wanted the camera to be stationary. To shoot the bike messenger footage we came up with three primary methods: 1) Racer and cinematographer Dominican Chris carried a camera while rollerblading 2) Luke Stiles, another alleycat shooter, piloted a motorized scooter through traffic with DP Langlev secured on, the camera handheld with a monopod for balance and 3) borrowing from the Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi, I positioned the camera on sticks in the back of a Ford Explorer and lowered the tire pressure to 20 PSI to prevent the camera from shaking. 

This collage is some of the footage that we gathered. Some we used and some we couldn't fit in. It is a little dated: this was shot mostly in 2010 and 2011.