Volkswagen World Auto Commercials

Art Direction, Advertising, Set Design

A set of video spots for Volkswagen's Certified Preowned division, World Auto. Created at iStrategyLabs.

Volkswagen World Auto Spots
At ISL, we created a set of two commercials for Volkswagen's Certified Pre-Owned division, World Auto. The concept was grand: five sets, eight costumes, one night shoot at a cabin in the woods, and a team of amazing humans to make it happen. I was responsible for set design and wardrobe, working closely with Creative Director, Zach Goodwin, and the rest of the team.
The Sets: Grandma's House
Our grandmother character was a sweet older woman who clearly came up in a different era. Our suggestion was that based on the surroundings in her home, her style, and mannerisms, you'd imagine she doesn't know much (if anything) about cars. This set was custom built by TSA (even the fake hallway!) and shot at Thundershot Studios.
Grandma's house was a serious adventure. Much of the furniture was sourced from an antiques collector in DC with an impeccable collection. Wallpaper was custom installed, and lighting and miscellaneous smaller items were sourced separately. The lighting (by the Washington Source) really brought the set to life.
In order to get a sense for what our sets looked like before finalizing everything, we set them up in our office. Look at all this crazy cool furniture!
When we arrived at Thundershot for Grandma's Wall and The Salesman's Office, this is what it looked like. Totally empty!
Me, loving it.
The Independent Salesman
We've all been to the off-brand, independent car dealer, right? He's a little desperate to make that sale and there's always a takeout food container on his desk. We wanted to suggest both desperation and untrustworthiness in this character with an aged, cluttered, dark and hazy visual direction. This set was custom built by TSA and shot at Thundershot Studios.
The salesman's office was too much fun to build. The palette was a milky green, wood and aged metal, tones of beige/brown, and a bright orange color. We sourced everything from a giant 80s-style desk to an old computer that's really only good for being a prop or a paperweight, and painted those items which didn't fit in the palette. A dead plant from the office was given a second life, and each item here was aged to add to the sad, outdated, heavily used feel.
Our fearless leader Zach just happened to fit into the salesman's outfit, so naturally he played Darryl for the dress rehearsal.
The opposite wall of the salesman's office, showing the dad and daughter characters. Chairs and file cabinets were thrifted, the boxes were a Craigslist find of perfection, and the posters were designed by Zach Goodwin.
A pano of the salesman's office, the opposite wall, and a sneak peek of Grandma's Wall on the right.
Little details in the salesman's set added to the lived-in feeling; our goal was to make it feel like he'd been there for decades.
We had some custom plaques created for our salesman, Darryl Flannery, and had them dated in the 80s to accentuate the aged feel.
The Mechanic
We wanted to imply that our mechanic may not be a very good — or honest — one. His work clothes are dirty and worn, and he's overly concerned with coming across as high-end although from his surroundings you can tell his cars are anything but. 

This set was largely already built for us, as we used a repair shop in DC, though we did some set dressing. 
BTS from the mechanic's shop shoot
We hand designed the patches and aged each mechanic's shirt ourselves. Our main mechanic character also wore badly-placed flash tattoos to suggest a storied past.
Our intern, Mazzy, aging the mechanics' boots!
The Cabin
The cabin was far away, and it was a night shoot...and, it was awesome. Lighting badasses The Washington Source floated a huge light balloon in the air to give us a nighttime effect, while not putting us in complete darkness. We arrived at a pre-built cabin and styled the exterior for the shot, including our DP's car with a hubcap removed (thanks Tanski!).
The Team
Director — Zach Goodwin
Director of Photography — Matt Tanski
First AC — Vinh Le
Art Director/Set Design — Maggie Gaudaen
Design and Production — Paul Dunbar and Spencer Joynt
Project Management — Lauren Travis Everett
Producer — Jen Kwon
Gaffer — Wes Sullivan
Makeup — Sallie Keena
Sound — Steve Souryal
Design Intern — Mazzy Bell
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