Chris Robinson recently directed NBA contemporaries Andre Iguodala, Russell Westbrook, Josh Smith, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo for a 5-spot campaign announcing the new game NBA 2K11. Chris entered into the project aiming to “have fun with it,” and to create an environment that was comfortable and spontaneous.
“Every pro athlete knows how to talk smack, so capturing their competitive nature through video game play wasn’t tough,” Chris explains.
Robinson wasn’t surprised when an easy camaraderie developed amongst the players – after all, hoop stars at this elite level have seen each other around since high school. The real shocker came when the group of young multi-millionaires chose to play the game throughout the shoot, jamming through their lunch break and between takes. Another thing the players had in common was their admiration for the set – a sleek Manhattan penthouse with wrap-around skyline views.
“Every single one of the guys asked me how much the apartment cost,” Robinson laughs. Clearly this is a group that is used to having options!
Eliciting believable performances from not one but five NBA stars was a challenge Robinson relished. “On my feature film ATL, I worked with all real people – no actors, so I have a background in this.” Robinson explains.
“[Ad agency] 72 and Sunny allowed me to continue to evolve the script. I felt like I was in the writers room for Saturday Night Live, riffing and changing dialogue right on the spot.”
Robinson’s own “Can’t eat sushi in Utah” line, which he came up with during the shoot, ended up in the final “MJ’s Greatest Moments” spot. While Derrick Rose’s culinary talent is fictional (he’s shown basting a full-sized turkey in the commercial,) the player’s idolization of Michael Jordan is authentic. “There was some discussion about whether Michael Jordan would crush the top NBA players today. And the players ultimately agreed that Jordan stands as “an anomaly in the game.
Robinson kept the shooting “light and quick” by using Canon HD cameras. Derrick Rose was shot separately and effectively cut back in to the group for a seamless end result. “All the guys were headed off to Europe to play on the World Basketball Team so we shot it in two days,” Chris reports. “I had no problem moving quickly.”