Production design comes naturally to Toronto’s Andrea Leigh. She truly knows how to bring a director’s vision to life, and helps transport audiences to different places and time with her innate talent. She did not always know that she wanted to get into designing sets and working on film studios, but once she realized what she wanted, she has never looked back, and audiences in Canada and worldwide are thankful.
In addition to working on music videos for popular bands like Thugli and The Sheepdogs, as well as celebrated films and television series such as Friends Like Us and Hello Linda, Leigh has added her touch to dozens of viral commercials. Her work with E.L.F’s Play Beautifully commercial has over 2 million YouTube hits, and the 2015 Teleflora Mother’s Day campaign not only has over 11 million hits on YouTube, but also received attention from several media outlets including Buzzfeed.
“I like the pace of commercials specifically and how quickly you move from one job to the next. It keeps the creativity wheels turning, and propels you to think on your feet. It’s always exciting,” said Leigh.
Leigh’s trend for success continued when working on the Scott’s Weed B Gone commercial last year, titled Prickly. The spot was extremely well-received and was widely successful among both audiences and critics, earning 130,000 views on YouTube alone. It was a Finalist in the Video PreRoll category at the prestigious Shorty Awards, and influenced Rethink Agency’s “Agency of the Year.”
“It feels special to be part of something that would influence that kind of recognition. A lot of planning and work went into this project, and it’s a satisfying feeling knowing that work was recognized,” said Leigh.
The commercial follows an annoying puppet character weed named Prickly, as he pesters the home owners and multiplies and multiplies until there are too many of him to handle, until he is sprayed by Scotts Weed B Gone. Much of the commercial focuses around the puppet characters on a cartoon-like set, emphasizing the need for a production designer.
“Andrea was instrumental in not only designing the aesthetic of the puppet and the set, but also creating the multitude of puppets for the end of the commercial. She worked with the puppeteers to make the weed appear irritable and annoying, which was exactly the look that the client was shooting for. It is doubtlessly thanks to Andrea’s prowess as a leading production designer that the commercial was able to maintain this crucial visual aspect that led the production to its widespread success. Such insurmountable critical acclaim for the commercial is evidentiary of the level of skill present in the people involved on the production, and I would like to express my gratitude toward Ms. Leigh for her undeniable impact on the success of the commercial.” said David Whiteson, the director of the commercial. “The scope of Andrea’s achievements should not go understated, as she has repeatedly proven herself to be one of the most successful production designers in her field, and responsible for much of the success of each of her productions.”
Working with Alter Ego production company, Leigh was able to work with depth and scale to design a miniature set with ease. She also designed the main character Prickly that the commercial was so famous for.
“We had to keep in mind that the viewer could skip over the majority of the spot. So, having a set that would be impactful and fun was important to keep the viewers' attention,” said Leigh. “I’ve been working with Alter Ego since they started branching off from post production to produce their own spots. They knew I’d be all over something like this. I really love detail and this job was all about the detail. Working with David is always a blast. It’s been lovely growing with them as a company. David and Alter Ego have given me incredible opportunities to create some pretty amazing content. There’s always an interesting twist to everything we work on together. It’s always exciting.”
Seeing the commercial and her hard work come together was a great feeling for Leigh. But what made the project even more special for her is that her father Remo was involved in the build of this tiny world.
“There’s no one I know who pays as much attention to detail and strives for perfection like he does. It’s definitely where I get it from. It was so amazing to get to work with him in my world. What a treat. He had a blast being on set. It was 'bring your dad to work day',” she joked.
Working on the commercial for Scott’s Weed B Gone was entirely enjoyable for the production designer, whose work added so much to the advertisement. For Leigh, however, it wasn’t about the accolades, but about the experience.
“I got to create a miniature set and design a puppet. I mean, it was a no brainer. It was just plain fun,” she concluded.