Jay W. Yowler has a storied career, with decades of experience lighting for television and film, with recent credits including Chief Light Technician on Seasons 3, 4, and 5 of Grownish. One of the founders of Quasar Science, Yowler has used his knowledge and first-hand perspective as a gaffer to help develop new lighting technologies. He knows that there is a tool tailored to each job, so for the Jack in the Box 2023 “Feeding Time” Halloween campaign, Yowler chose the Matthews Air Climber® to get the lighting height he needed, in a tight environment with limited hours of nighttime.
To celebrate the spooky season and the return of their Monster Tacos, the purveyor of fast food commissioned a Halloween special series of several spots that string together to tell an overall short story. Yowler was brought on to light by Cinematographer Eric Leach with whom he had worked before on feature films, including The Darkest Hour.
The four-night shoot took place in Orange County, filming along a college housing neighborhood adjacent to a wooded area. Right away, Yowler identified an imminent problem. The gaffer describes, “The woods were thick and contained a lot of bushes and shrubs. I had Condors on set, but even if we placed them just outside the woods, there was no way to get enough light through the trees.”
With so much undergrowth and thick tree branches to contend with, a Condor would be unable to position anywhere close enough and still have the lights be punchy-enough for the shooting location. An additional layer of difficulty was added by the anamorphic lenses, which would easily catch sight of a lift. “As soon as we got into those woods,” says Yowler, “I instantly knew that we had to try the Air Climber.”
Made by Matthews, Air Climber is the only off-the-shelf grip and lighting stand that reaches 25 feet/7.62 meters, allowing lofty support where aerial lifts cannot access. Compact enough to transport in a grip truck, it uses pneumatics to be safely raised and lowered with a regulator switch. Yowler contacted Tony Blue at his trusted grip and lighting provider Cinelease and they outfitted him. “I can’t say enough good things about Cinelease. Blue and Richard Pilla have always been a big help,” says Yowler. Cinelease had the Air Climbers in stock and delivered them to set.
“I knew Air Climber would do the trick, so I took two and we manhandled them back into the bushes and shrubs,” explains Yowler. “It was the perfect stand. It got me 25 feet, plus the height of the light, to reach just where I really needed. And the stands are black, which is great because they just blended into the background at night.” Although they had never used one before, his team found the Air Climbers quick and easy to set up and safe to use. He soon figured out that, thanks to their ability to swivel on the base, they could quickly adjust to re-orient the various fixtures, which included SkyPanels, Rosco DMG panels, and ARRI M18.
“There’s a need for stands like Air Climber,” concludes Yowler. “Especially in the situation on this commercial, there was nothing else that we could have used easily that would have also kept the fixtures out of shot.”
The Jack in the Box Monster Tacos “Feeding Time” campaign is airing for the Halloween 2023 season.
You can read more about Air Climber here.