The Past Is Present with Michael Schnabel and Infiniti
When Michael Schnabel was first approached to shoot the latest campaign for Infiniti, there was something nostalgic about what they were looking for. There was a dreamlike quality to the idea and it reminded him of work that he had done in the past, but hadn’t explored recently. For a lot of artists time and development only move in one direction, but Michael saw this as a new opportunity to visit comfortable expertise and discover new creative avenues within techniques he had already mastered. “When we saw the brief we thought it could bring something back from what I used to do and maybe be a little bit unique,” Michael says. “It worked out.” After looking over what Infiniti initially wanted, he realized that they could create a lot more work with the time they were being given. So they went for it.
Over the course of five days they shot the entire fifteen image campaign, going from Californian city to Californian city. It was a whirlwind tour that was as exciting as it was busy. “We were shooting in San Francisco, in Los Angeles, in San Diego. Obviously all exciting destinations,” Michael says. “I was excited to shoot in California, I used to live there, so it’s great to come home.” Michael teamed up with a crew, agency, and producers that he’s worked with before so it was a team that he knew well and worked together with masterfully. Those relationships were crucial when it came to creating a such a large swath of creative assets in such a short amount of time.
At one point Michael found that what his crew really needed was to take some time and refocus. For an artist, it’s all about creating a visual and emotional balance, and sometimes to create that balance you need to embody balance. One day they were working super hard all morning on a shot that was particularly tricky and taking more time than they expected. Once they successfully got the shot they broke for lunch a little worried about the afternoon. But Michael had a hunch that he should step away, just for a few minutes, and get inspired by the space around him. “Rather than stepping right onto set and behind the camera, I sat down for ten minutes and took a little break,” Michael says. “Refreshing my mind, sitting in the sun having a moment: that totally rejuvenated me. And then the next two shots were done in the remaining few hours. That was really exciting because we were totally working within a flow, the entire crew, everyone producing beautiful work under pressure in a short period, being successful, that was a very nice moment.” Once Michael and the crew were able to sit and pause and come back with fresh eyes, every element worked together seamlessly and effortlessly, bringing balance from behind the camera directly onto the images.