By: Irene Cooper
Recently, we introduced you to our new TV commercial, High-Performance Internet, and its star, local fiddler CJ Neary. Here is a peek behind the scenes of the commercial shoot itself, which happened in late February west of Bend.
Behind the Scenes
The creative crew for BendBroadband chose the sanctuary at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as the setting for the High-Performance Internet production, featuring Central Oregon violinist CJ Neary. With its great carved doors, soaring cedar ceiling, and optimal acoustics, it’s an ideal location to film the young virtuoso at his craft. Director Trevor McCreery films CJ against a glass wall with a panoramic view of sagebrush and Ponderosa. The effect is a blending of the line between the high desert landscape and the modern architecture it so clearly inspires.
The setup itself was pretty minimalist: CJ and his fiddle were positioned beside a laptop perched on a simple metal stool, flanked by two standing lamps. C.J. plays a snippet of Latin-style jazz he wrote especially for the occasion. Then he plays it again … and again … and again, per McCreery’s direction. While the crew readies for another take, CJ checks a message on his phone, stuffed inside a backpack on a chair next to his mom, Tammy, and baby brother, Shea, on hand for support.
While CJ acknowledges that one of his greatest strengths as a musician is his ability to play by ear and improvise, he maintains an impressive professionalism throughout dozens of takes, making the notes new each time. As he strikes the bow against the strings, the music takes off through the ripple of chairs, rushing over the grooves and crevices of the wood and rock like fresh water. At last, the director calls out, “Perfect!” and it’s time for a lunch break.
6th Grade Math, Jazz Theory & Snickerdoodles
The lunchtime conversation flows over salads, chips, cookies and La Croix at the long table in the Pete Seeger Gathering Hall, another magnificent space of wood and glass. CJ and TDS Telecom Creative Services Manager Shelby Little discuss songwriting technique. The lively group considers the influence of Buddhism on Herbie Hancock, and the merits of 80’s hip-hop and contemporary rap. It’s decided Bishop’s in downtown Bend is the best place for a haircut. Soon, it’s back to work.
CJ and the crew dive into the second selection of the day, a classical piece also composed by the young musician. McCreery switches to a mobile camera, the better to capture CJ from multiple perspectives. “That’s cool,” says CJ. “Like in the Matrix.”
McCreery offers a fun fact: It took 100 cameras to film those action scenes with Keanu Reeves and company. Little chimes in: “The other 99 couldn’t make it today.” One works just fine, though, honing in on CJ’s focused expression and fretboard technique.
It’s a Wrap
Finally, a moment for a little acting, when CJ is asked to look up from his finished piece and face the camera. Everyone on the set is ready with a different strategy. CJ works his considerable cool factor with a hand in his pocket and a sideways glance, then lights up the room with a big smile. In the end, his natural youthful charm carries the scene.
When asked (as all young people inevitably are) about his future plans, CJ says: “I want to share my stuff with as many people as possible, you know?”
It was a full day. Making a commercial—getting the technology right, applying vision and skill, letting the magic happen out of the craft—takes time and dedication. In the end, there’s something people can respond to and be inspired by – a connection between subject, camera and concept. This is High-Performance, come to life.