Legend Transportation And Ambient Skies Hit The Road Together
Watch out Knight Transportation, there’s another new kid on the block… and they go by the name Legend Transportation.
You might have seen one of their many trucks (or tractors as the initiated call them) traveling along various highways around the country. The lead lady of Legend’s recruiting department, Annette, reached out to Ambient in desperate need of recruitment videos to lock in drivers who are looking for an authentic company they could join long term.
It’s unfortunate, but the reality is that a lot of people view semi-trucks on the road as a nuisance, but we quickly forget that they keep this country moving and operating efficiently. The world would literally stop if truckers weren’t moving necessities from one place to the other for us humans and animals. This lack of awareness could be a contributing factor to the driver shortage that our country is currently facing. Because of that shortage, it’s even more important for company’s like Legend to lock in driver’s that want to stick and stay with a company that treats them right.
Legend Transportation was looking to put a stop to their revolving door of drivers and they needed some creative chops to help them do that. That’s where we come in.
So after many meetings between our Creative Producers and Annette over the span of a month, we came to an agreement on the direction. We reached into our arsenal and whipped up a pitch deck with some very cool storyboards to get them all hyped up. And it worked! Problem was, Annette wanted to change up the whole direction of the creative from a live action approach to an animated one just because she loved the artwork that we had put together for it. After some squabbling, Annette came back down to earth and agreed that the live action approach would gain better results for them.
So at this stage, the founder and CEO, Sonny, was brought up to speed and stepped into the creative circle to approve where everything was headed. We received positive feedback from him and the higher ups in the company and they gave us the proverbial blessing to move forward with the production.
From there, we moved fully into pre-production. Immediately we were faced with a conundrum. We knew that we needed to use actors because as you can probably imagine, most real life truckers are not the best candidates to put in front of the lens. Not to mention, most of them would much rather be out on the road making more money. In any case, we needed authenticity. We needed other truckers to believe that these actors were in fact real truckers.
So to pull this off, we found actors that visually looked the part. But in order to get the raw dialogue and attitude we were looking to capture, we needed an authentic trucker to help us direct these actors to get believable results. This kept us especially honest with ad lib dialogue. Our real Trucker, Matt, was quick to step in and critique the actors delivery on the spot. And after talking with Matt during pre-production, it became apparent that we needed to do a story on him as well.
While planning our production days, we soon realized that driving would be an issue. As our actors did not have CDL licenses, they could not drive the big rigs. And while we could fake wide shots from a distance with Trucker Matt behind the wheel, to secure believability we needed at least a handful of close shots where by we could see our actors driving the tractors on the road. This added another day into our schedule. So we were looking at 4 shooting days total at that point.
We decided to start with our female actor (driver) Michela. We rented an Air BnB that matched the look we were going for which was a mix of humble and successful. This character’s background dealt with being a Navy veteran. Luck was on our side because the actor we ended up choosing was also a Navy veteran so we were able to source some authentic props and outfits that we used as set decor. We started the day shooting mock interviews with Michela and principal b-roll in and around the house. Once we hit the half way point in the day, we had to do a company move to a truck stop one hour outside of Phoenix past Wickenburg. We loaded up the gear and we all headed up North to our 2nd location of the day.
Once we reached the truck stop, we got setup quickly to grab an establishing shot at sunset. From there, we shot b-roll of Michela at the truck stop going through the motions of a real trucker. From checking to oil and tires to cleaning windows and chatting with fellow truckers. The aim was authenticity and she was really selling it. We wrapped up after only a few hours and made the trek back down to the valley none the worse for wear.
The second shooting day was focused on our next character/actor Nate. His character’s backstory included his road companion… a dog named Piff. Like the first shooting day, we were shooting at 2 different locations. The day started at the Legend Transportation headquarters in west Phoenix. Nate showed up with Piff in his old school truck which matched the aesthetic we were going for. The idea being that we follow Nate as he arrives at the truck lot and prepares for a long haul on the road. Capturing realistic tasks such as attaching his cargo trailer, checking the engine, shooting the breeze with fellow Legend employees and taking off for a delivery.
After we wrapped up half of our day at the truck lot, we headed over to our 2nd location which was to be Nate’s bachelor pad. Since our actor was in fact married and we didn’t want to intrude, not to mention his real house did not match the look we were going for, we sourced a house to use that looked and felt like the real deal.
We had to dress up the location to get the exact look we were going for, but a few neon lights and a motorcycle later, we were there. The idea being that we capture Nate in his element – fixing himself dinner, feeding his dog, wrenching on his bike, waking up and leaving for work. We also shot Nate’s mock interviews here as well which were carefully directed with the aid of Matt, our real deal trucker consultant.
So our third day was a little different. Our main focus was to capture a bunch of aerial and ground footage of a big rig driving across country highway, over bridges, and next to bodies of water. So we mapped out a course that took us up and around Roosevelt lake which provided the bridge we needed for the imagery we were seeking to lock in. By this point we had gotten to know Matt and had talked him into stepping in front of the lens to capture his story as well. So along the way we grabbed interior footage of Matt driving as we made our way to Roosevelt bridge. We had coordinated with the state to close down the highway that runs across the bridge and had met with our contacts upon arriving. They were setup at both ends and would stop traffic momentarily so we could grab specific shots of the rig crossing the bridge. Every time we needed to reset, they would let traffic through and when we needed to shoot, they would once again stop traffic.
For the aerial shooting itself, the majority of this project had been shot with anamorphic lenses to give it some cinematic je nu sais quoi. We wanted the bridge footage to match so we arranged to bring out a heavy lift drone so that we could fly our A cam with the heavy anamorphic lenses and keep consistency intact. The result was amazing and we were able to pull everything off relatively unscathed.
The forth day was our studio day. We needed to shoot our actors driving a big rig in front of a green screen so we could composite realistic driving plates and sell the fact that our actors were in fact driving a Legend truck. So we decided to utilize a local studio, Cinevo (previously Reelmen Studios) which had a big enough stage and pathway to fit a semi-truck inside. With literally an inch of wiggle room on either side, trucker Matt slowly drove the rig into the studio with a few beads of sweat running down his forehead.
Once inside, it was game time. We matched lighting to driving plates we had previously chosen to use and it was off to the races. We shot both day and night driving shots with both actors and the lovable Piff who was a trooper on set. After wrapping our green screen b-roll, we constructed two interview setups for Matt and other Legend employees and finished the day getting authentic interviews in the can.
Wrapping It Up
In post production, we pieced together individual driver stories as well as a flagship brand film for Legend. This process always includes a lot of internal finagling and rounds of revisions with the client. After a few weeks we had locked in the final edits and handed over the deliverables on time and on budget.
All in all, we had a great time with this one and learned a lot about the transportation business in general. We ended up winning an Addy Award for this project in 2023 which was unexpected and an honor for all of us involved. This project was truly a team effort.
Visit our Case Study Page here to watch the final deliverables.
Director – John Schaus
Producer – Richard Charney
Producer – Deanna Beghtol
Production Coordinator – Rebekah Nylander
DP/Editor – Trenton Massey
1st AC – Said Ramirez
Audio – Nile Popchock
Photographer – Brandon Sullivan
Drone Op – Josh Lambeth
Assistant Editor – Logan Fetters