March 2019

Google: Connecting People & Places


The Office Visit


Back in November of 2018, we met up with our cousin for lunch who works at the Chicago Google office in the West Loop. The Chicago office handles more of the business end than the creative work done in Los Angeles, but it didn’t matter to us. It was Google! After watching The Internship movie, we couldn’t help but want to see if the office was actually like the movie portrayed it to be…






The Initial Observations


The movie was accurate in a lot of ways. This place was huge! Not to mention, everything was free! From breakfast to lunch, a snack bar on every floor, a workout facility, laundry room, arcade rooms, tea stations, office supplies, you name it! We even got to experience the nap pods like you see in the movie. We could go on for days about how dreamy of an office this place is, but there is more to the story than just an office visit.




The Inspiration


After talking and touring with fellow “Googlers” we couldn’t help but feel inspired to create something. It is true when they say a creative space makes for creative ideas and it did just that. After getting back to our office, we instantly felt a burst of inspiration to create a self-funded Google spec video.


A spec shoot, commonly known as spec work can be defined as work done prior to engagement with a client in anticipation of hired work. There is a lot of debate in the creative industry whether spec work is worth the time and energy. Spec shoots never guarantee payment for the video, making it somewhat risky financially. On the other hand, spec work can be beneficial by potentially getting your foot in the door with a big brand or company that you have always wanted to work with. In our case, we just wanted to have fun and create something out of passion and add to our portfolio of work.


Our idea was to create a short 30-45 second video targeting how the Google brand connects people and places together. The theme of the video goes like this… Our main subject is working at his office when he suddenly receives a text message about grabbing dinner the same night with an old friend. Without any notice, our subject was in a rush to find a barbershop to clean up and prepare for his date. By using Google search, he was able to find the nearest barbershop in seconds and later used Google Maps to help him locate the restaurant where he was meeting his date. All thanks to Google, our main subject was calm, cool and collected on his date and possibly scored a second in the future…


Behind the Scenes


We decided to shoot the video on the Red Raven from Red Digital Cinema and used Canon L series lenses as our go-to glass. We filmed the entire video in one 10-hour day. Our crew call time was at 7:00 AM with a 7:45 AM start to the day. We wanted the video to encompass different looks in a short period of time, so we decided to pick three different locations to center the video around. We also picked one of the coldest days to film this video.




Location 1: Spaces


Spaces, is a coworking creative space located in Fulton Market, Chicago. We were able to shoot here since we were renting an office space already, so we were able to save on cost. We shot the first scene here using one of the creative booths in the back. Our shot setup was pretty simple using a tripod for the majority of takes as well as a handheld setup for pick up shots.








Location 2: Vince & Gino’s Hair Design & Spa


Vince & Gino’s Hair Design & Spa is a family owned and operated barbershop and salon located in Chicago since 1960. This was the second location on our shoot involving a barber giving our subject a haircut and shave for his date. Using a Google search to help him locate the nearest barbershop, he was able to find their barbershop quickly and walk right in.


It just so happens to be owned by our grandfather, so we didn’t have any issues filming at all. Our uncle, also a co-owner, stars as the barber in the video.








Location 3: Gio’s Cafe and Deli


Gio’s Cafe and Deli is a wonderful little gem in the heart of Bridgeport on the Southside of Chicago that fit perfect for the dinner scene. As residents of Bridgeport and regulars of the Italian restaurant, our location fee was waived to shoot here as well. Since it was only a few blocks away from the barbershop, we were able to save on travel time getting here too! This place is ideal for one-on-one date nights and had the exact look we were going for. As this was the last scene, we had to make sure the lighting matched the timeline in the video. While we waited for the light to fall for the dinner scene, we set up in the cafe and waited about an hour to start, and also enjoyed a few cups of cappuccino.




(All photos by Brendan Cunningham)




It’s such a rewarding feeling when you are open to creating for the love of it. Our time producing this piece was such an eye-opening experience. When you let passion drive your project, you sometimes end up with the best results. What are you waiting for? Go out and shoot your next project!




Key Takeaways

1) Save on costs where necessary when you are self-funding a project.

2) Utilize your network and relationships with peers.

3) You have creative control. Step outside your comfort zone.

4) Don’t let money and gear stop you from creating something.

5) Have fun, it’s just a spec shoot.








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