Tallgrass Pictures Shoots for the Stars

By Barbara Goldman

Award-winning Director and Executive Producer  Jeffrey Lamont Brown of hybrid print and broadcast production company Tallgrass Pictures  recently got to shoot for the stars when he  produced and directed the latest TV spot for San Diego State University (SDSU). Brown and the Tallgrass Pictures team have a simple mission: to make beautiful, storytelling photographs and films for clients around the world.  They believe in a style that has its roots in authentic experiences but goes beyond reality in subtle and interesting ways.

With several SDSU alumni working at Tallgrass Pictures,  Brown and his production company returned to the campus to shoot their third commercial for the university. This year the spot followed eight kids as they grew from childhood to join NASA's Mars Exploration Program,  and highlighted SDSU's role in the process. The eight alumni all contributed to the wildly successful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars on August 5, 2012. The Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory mission advances NASA's Mars Exploration Program's through long-term robotic exploration of the planet. The Curiosity rover has been designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms known as microbes, what the planet’s environment was like in the past, its habitability and the future of more long-range exploration.

Tallgrass Pictures has had the pleasure of filming for SDSU on several occasions.  Including the production of the noted commercial “Aztec for Life,” which went on to earn Brown and his team a broadcast ADDY award in 2011.  Brown said, "It's been a great collaboration, and we are thrilled to be invited back each year to produce spots that highlight SDSU's recent triumphs in collegiate athletics, engineering and scientific research."

The project was client direct, with Tallgrass acting as the advertising agency for the project, and  Brown and his team collaborating directly with SDSU’s Chief Communications Officer Jack Beresford. The Tallgrass team concepted, wrote, directed, produced, edited and distributed the spot.

Principal photography for both spots was accomplished in three days. Production Coordinator Aly Bucholz said, "As with all NASA missions, weather was a challenge for the production team, especially when it started storming during the observatory scene where the dome was open and the talent had to look at the stars through the giant telescope."  With a fairly complex set, we had to scramble to protect all the lighting and shoot intermittently as the storm moved through. The spots were shot with  2 RED Epics with Canon prime lenses, Kessler CineSlider, Kino-Flo lights, 1.2k HMI,'s Jokers and dolly.

The spot has been another success story for Tallgrass Pictures. “We had so much fun on this shoot. It’s not too often that you get to play with giant telescopes, wind tunnels and rockets,” says  Brown.

Beginning in February 2013, the spots will air nationally on ESPN and at SDSU, and continue running into 2014. "It's a real creative challenge to capture the essence of the San Diego State brand in 30 seconds," says CCO Beresford.  "This is compounded by the fact that there are literally hundreds of universities trying to distinguish themselves from each other.  But the Tallgrass Pictures team has spectacularly delivered three times running.  We really feel like they're personally committed to the success of each project.  It's a tall order but we know we've succeeded when our alumni and students stand and cheer after seeing the spot air."

 © Tallgrass Pictures   

For more information about the compelling and award-winning still photography and short and long-form video productions from Tallgrass Pictures, please visit: www.tallgrasspictures.com.


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