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The Cinematic Well Fargo Western

When Wells Fargo found itself in the midst of a scandal, it performed a “mea culpa” via commercial. In a series of ads, it both acknowledged the need to change and once again earn the public’s trust as well as reminded us of the good it had once done. Connection with the people means speaking to them directly. These spots included archival footage as well as a number of period pieces with a diverse set of individuals of different backgrounds. People were the key element in these ads and Amanda Curtis was the production talent coordinator for it. Cinematic is the only word appropriate to describe these productions which show the American public from the westward expansion up to present day and the relationship that has existed with Wells Fargo.


The intention was to tell a story which communicates the long history of Wells Fargo working as a benevolent contributor to the growth of America, spanning numerous decades. This lofty goal required a truly grand approach. To facilitate this, three key professionals were enlisted: Director Warren Fischer, cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, and production talent coordinator Amanda Curtis. Fisher began his career as a violinist and composer, releasing records on a number of labels. Adam is also co-founder of music-based art project Fischerspooner which as recently as last year released their fourth studio album entitled SIR on Ultra Records -produced by Michale Stipe of R.E.M. and Boots of Beyoncé fame. As a feature film producer, his work earned the Jury Prize at Sundance for a Ry Russo-Young film. Susan Johnson's To All the Boys I've Loved Before (Netflix) and a host of other acclaimed films confirm him as incredibly diverse director in the modern era. In all estimations, Arkapaw is a major creative force in the industry.


While Fisher supplied the vision, attainment of the visuals was assigned to two-time Primetime Emmy Award-winning DP Adam Arkapaw (Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series for HBO’s True Detective & Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie for 2013’s Top of the Lake). The scenes of this Wells Fargo ad rivals any major Hollywood feature, from the wild west to the industrial boom, and on to modern day. The ad could easily be mistaken for the trailer of a summer blockbuster. Procuring such immense talent behind the camera was a sign that the client wanted to make a big and sincere statement. Of course, the talent behind the camera requires talent in front of it to relate the story. Amanda Curtis was the lynch pin in working with the more than three hundred member cast this larger than life ad utilized. This massive production shot in various locations including the old Disney Ranch, Melody Ranch, Mash Studios, the Burbank airport hangar, and Magu state beach. With such a large cast and shifting locations, Amanda’s microscopic attention to detail ensured that the people and places were always coordinated perfectly, thus keeping the production and the budget maximizing forward momentum. She relates, “LA is the Mecca for film and it shows in the way production is planned out and executed. It also makes it the most expensive but there is a reason for that. If you want to do a big production and get it done right, LA is the place for that. LA also has the infrastructure for all types of filing form sets to gear that you cannot find anywhere else with such ease. The weather is a bonus as well as you always know it’s always going to be a beautiful day and don’t have to fight with the outside elements.” Noting one other pleasing aspect for her, Curtis confirms, “Having worked in the film industry for twenty years, it was very refreshing to work with an all-female production team in a very male dominated work place. I loved to see so many females working together to make a fun and enjoyable project come together. There were six of us in total that ran the production office for this very large 7-day shoot. I think women have great organization skills with a level of extreme focus on detail. Women also bring a markedly different energy to the crew that an all-male one. I think the spike in females on set help lighten the spirits and give a balance to the gender as well as get the job at hand done perfectly.”

The commitment to excellence and change in all aspects of creating this message from Wells Fargo to the public serves to reinforce that they are putting their best foot forward. It may be only a commercial but the tale being told illuminates a long history of positive acts. Because they wanted to make sure this was communicated clearly and sincerely, Well Fargo amassed a number of elites of the production world. The lingering idea is that the change has already begun.

Written by Kelly King

The Cinematic Well Fargo Western Reviewed by JaamZIN on 5:53:00 PM Rating: 5
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