EntertainmentConducting Commercial Creativity During NBA’s All Star Weekend with Producer Arlene McGann

Conducting Commercial Creativity During NBA’s All Star Weekend with Producer Arlene McGann

 Hoops. Arlene McGann may not be an expert on the sport but her expertise in manifesting the excitement of the game in commercials geared at fans of basketball is unquestionable. Filmed during NBA All Star Weekend 2023, “Playoff Mode” channels the energy and enthusiasm of players and fans for this spot which appeared on TNT as well as all @NBA social channels and in the NBA App. Any production of this type is a whirlwind endeavor but “Playoff Mode” was particularly so as it featured many high-level celebrity NBA basketball players during one of the season’s demanding and public events. “Playoff Mode” captures the immense enthusiasm of a live sports event with information for the vast majority of fans who cannot attend in-person. Obtaining this riveting footage amidst the frenetic happenings of All Star Weekend is only achievable when one possesses the skill and a zen-like ability to navigate constantly vacillating components with complete confidence. Arlene’s mastery of this is declared by the production’s 1st AD John Lowe (know for his work on the multiple Oscar Award Nominated film Tar, starring Cate Blanchett) who declares, “Depending on the producer I’m working with, my job can be easy or very difficult. There is no producer who compares to Arlene. She is simply extraordinary and one of the absolute greats in the industry. I’ve worked with her a number of times, including on two large projects for the NBA. This most recent one featured a number of celebrities, which makes the situation more complex. Of course Arlene handled aspects like the location, cast & crew, work flow, and others perfectly but, and I cannot stress this enough, she constantly displays the key attribute of a great producer which is creativity. While creativity can be improved upon, it cannot be taught, it’s simply something that the greats like Arlene possess.”

  The storyline of “Playoff Mode” follows NBA superfan “Non-Stop”, played by actor Keyon Bowman, who opens the gates to getting fans hyped up for the Playoffs. Non-Stop shows how everybody from Boston to Serbia can get into “Playoff Mode” and lock in from the Play-In Tournament all the way to The Finals. The production is certainly star-studded featuring NBA All-Stars Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers), Julius Randle (New York Knicks) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies) and Denver Nuggets standout Jamal Murray, as well as ESPN’s Malika Andrews, Turner Sports’ Charles Barkley, actor Terry Crews and tennis great John McEnroe. 

(Embed video here – https://www.youtube.com/shorts/2y_Yu-AzOGk)

  Empowering a village of more than one hundred crew members plus on-screen talent was likely the easiest part of this production for Ms. McGann. The nature of commercial shoots exists upon flexibility but this was expanded to a somewhat comically challenging level due to the simultaneous shooting of this production and All Star Weekend. While location resources were understandably hard to secure, the moment by moment changes of the on-screen talent necessitate major pivots. Arlene’s poised and positive navigation of the situation was essential to success. She informs, “I am constantly reworking budgets and often just in my head on the move. I then work with the PM to have everything accurately updated in the paperwork. The director writes each scene specifically for a certain player. There are ‘in jokes’ or references in the scenes that the fans will understand. When the NBA switches out a player for various reasons (very common with athletes as their priority is training / staying healthy) I work with the director to amend the scene to work for the new player. This affects props, styling, lighting, etc. so it all influences the budget/schedule/crew and every aspect of the production. If I don’t stay on top of this, the budget can easily spiral out of control. This was a constant occurrence on this job. I was also asked to accommodate celebrities very last minute. In this case, I need to find creative ways to incorporate them into locations we have already permitted.”

  Much like managing a sports team, Arlene McGann surveys the present while having the foresight to prepare the playing field for others to do what they do best. This doesn’t provide much public glory but the satisfaction of the final results is an enjoyable payoff. Arlene has a passion for what she does and commercials like “Playoff Mode” exhibit the exceptionalism materialized through the efforts of herself and her team. 

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