Smokey Bear

An American icon that was an absolute pleasure to work on. While the Ad Council was a pro bono account, Smokey was always given the utmost creative attention. And although I never got to meet Smokey, I always felt his presence.

We searched the globe for an animator that could bring texture, beauty, and depth to our story of evolution, and finally found our man in Moscow. Mikhail Aldashin worked at Pilot Studios, and his style was “old school.” Like animation from earlier decades, Mikhail paints his scenes using oils on multiple layers of glass. After capturing the frame, he’ll move the wet paint to animate the next frame, and continues that process for each and every scene and movement.

Mikhail came to Los Angeles to work on our commercial, painting in a small studio we set up on La Brea Avenue. After three months of working night and day, our award-winning commercial was complete.

For this production we enlisted the services of some of the forest’s most notable inhabitants – a squirrel, fox, owl, deer, and even a mountain lion. We shot up in the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park near Crescent City, one of the more stunning parks in all of California. Then we travelled to Mount Shasta, where the mountain lion decided to head for the hills and send all of us diving into grip trucks in the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately he came to his senses when his wrangler coaxed him back on set with a slab of raw steak, and we were able to get the shot at sunrise exactly as Director Eric Saarinen had planned all along.