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Modernista & Shilo Ask You To Answer An SOS With A Touching & Clever Short Film

The filmmakers from U.S. creative production company Shilo are very proud to detail their latest project. Working in association with advertising agency Modernista, Shilo engaged Cassidy Gearhart to direct "SOS: Save Our Supplies," a visually poetic, live-action, 1:52 short film that is a central piece in the agency's cross-media campaign for the Brooklyn-based non-profit Doc to Dock, Inc. The film recently went live earlier on the new website created by Modernista at

"Doc to Dock was started in 2005 by Dr. Bruce Charash as a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative," said Gary Koepke, Modernista's co-founder and executive creative director. "Essentially, the organization collects unused medical supplies through its network of medical professionals and volunteers, then they sort, ship and redistribute the supplies and equipment -- enough to fill over 25 40-foot shipping containers so far -- to meet the specific needs of hospitals in the developing world. So far, this organization has brought hope and care to more than two million people while simultaneously reducing waste in the U.S., and we have crafted our new campaign to raise awareness and advance their cause. For this important short film, we turned to Shilo, which is well known for producing deep and incredibly thoughtful visual messages that leverage and unite all cinematic crafts. To say the least, we are all incredibly proud of the finished film."

To respond to the ideas presented by Koepke, Modernista's creative directors Will Uronis and Davi Liu, copywriter Lorelei Bandrovschi, and director of production Liz Shook, Shilo called upon Gearhart, whose first collaboration with Shilo's co-founder, creative director and director Andre Stringer was the hip hop documentary "Open Transport" released in 2000. The two worked very closely together at B.E.T., and over the years, Gearhart has contributed his talents to many major Shilo projects as a director, editor and artist.

"The Doc to Dock project's script called for very graphic live-action shots, and great art direction," said Shilo's executive producer Tracy Chandler. "We knew that Cass was the right director for this job because of his strong graphic, live-action sensibility, and also because he really knows type design well."

In the agency's original "SOS" script, powerful words are written on supply boxes, where those boxes fill up a shipping container using stop-motion animation, and in the process, tell Doc to Dock's story and convey its call-to-action. "After reading that great script," Gearhart explained, "I fell in love with the idea of interpreting the film as a visual voice-over, where we could use live-action cinematography of the boxes to present a unique type-treatment and storytelling approach."

To heighten viewers' emotional connections to the story, Gearhart proposed showing some human hands at work moving the boxes, and also, visually setting apart the script's two separate sections. "As our ideas for the production took form, those changes allowed us to set all the action for 'the problem' section in a warehouse, then set 'the solution' section inside the actual shipping container."

Throughout the development phase, the designs on the boxes became another key focus. Together, everyone decided those designs should be consistent with real-world shipping graphics. "The style of packing labels, stickers, marker writing, and the type of printing you normally see on boxes made us immediately think of the work of Mike Cina, an accomplished typeface designer well-versed in grid-based graphic design," said Gearhart. To the group's delight, Cina signed on to provide art direction for all the shipping box graphics.

The project's detailed prep-work also involved a full two weeks of pre-production, where Gearhart first produced a "word-o-matic" (an edit of the script's messaging timed to music), and from there, storyboards and a detailed previs. To dial-in the timing and message composition for the time-lapse sequences showing the walls of boxes being built, Gearhart, Julian King, and Shilo producer Jeremy Yaches rehearsed and captured numerous takes in Shilo's studio.

When production day finally arrived, the crew assembled on a set built inside a Brooklyn warehouse. Gathered together along with 120 custom-made boxes, another 100 "extra" boxes, a 40-foot Doc to Dock shipping container sent in from New Jersey, and their on-camera talent while an intense blizzard raged outside, Shilo's crew captured their principal photography using the RED MX camera system. Time-lapse footage was shot using a Canon 5D.

"One of the shots that came out of all our pre-production testing was the container door closing shot," Gearhart added. "We came up with the idea of rigging the camera to the door so that the camera tracks with the door as it slams shut. In the end, we felt it was perfect for bringing our message home with a bang."

Client: Doc to Dock, Inc.
Advertising Agency: Modernista
Executive Creative Director: Gary Koepke
Creative Director: Will Uronis
Creative Director: Davi Liu
Copywriter: Lorelei Bandrovschi
Director of Production: Liz Shook

Production Company: Shilo
Director: Cassidy Gearhart
Co-Director: Julian King
Director of Photography: Tristan Sheridan
Production Designer: Jeff Everett
Box Art Direction and Design: Mike Cina
Editor: Julian King & Cassidy Gearhart
Color Correction: Julian King
Executive Producer: Tracy Chandler
Producer: Jeremy Yaches
Music: Zoe Keating "Optimist"
Sound Design/Mix: Mike Secher, Soundtrack

About Shilo
Shilo is an Emmy Award-winning creative production company representing a group of filmmakers led by directors Jose Gomez and Andre Stringer. Internationally known for creating original and commissioned work that is powerful, provocative and visually extraordinary, Shilo's deeply held passions for design-infused storytelling and their innovative applications of live-action, design, and animation techniques deliver breakthrough experiences for screens large and small. From its studios in New York and California, where recent projects have spanned short films, commercials and music videos, Shilo has the capacity and experience to originate ideas and handle all aspects of production. Shilo published its first book, We Make It Good, in 2007, and also also curates and produces content for the blog Their sibling company WMIG is a creative think tank offering services in ideation, writing, and art direction. For more information, or to request a reel, please contact Tracy Chandler at +, or visit Shilo online at

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