Hermeus is a company built on boundary-pushing ideas, and their cinematic promotional video was no exception.
Ocean’s 11 is a classic. The plot, the cast, the style, the… Vegas! It’s part of our lexicon – as familiar as it is fun. It’s also a movie built around solving a seemingly impossible problem, and that’s what made it appealing to Hermeus, an aerospace engineering company with an ambitious goal: create passenger jets capable of reaching Mach 5. And changing the world in the process.
It’s so outlandish that you might even consider it on par with, well, taking the most secure casino in Las Vegas for everything they have. The truth is, of course, that it’s not on par with casino robbery – it’s infinitely more complicated.
But Hermeus needed to make the idea comprehensible, cool, and sexy for their investors, so they came to us with a plan: recreate an iconic scene from Ocean’s 11, shot-for-shot, using the familiar structure to explain the basics of this engineering feat. Danny Ocean laying out the challenges to robbing the Belaggio for his team of thieves would be replaced with AJ, Hermeus’ CEO, laying out the obstacles to breaking the sound barrier with a passenger aircraft to his skeptical staff… but also luring them in with the incredible benefits.
We were blown away by how well the movie scene worked when altered to suit Hermeus’ needs. Director Cameron Shaw and DP Trey Gregory watched the original scene countless times. They committed it to memory, and even had a few stunning revelations. Today, they both swear it’s unlikely all the actors were present at once, and director Steven Soderbergh freely positioned his talent in ways that looked best for each shot, rather than striving for continuity, which created a fun and interesting shooting approach. The use of practical lights and monitors lent the scene an appropriately hi-tech air to our take on this scene.
Of course, recreating the look of the movie was only half the battle. Engineers are amazing people, but we had no guarantee they’d be amazing actors. The cast of Ocean’s 11 is absolutely stacked – Clooney, Pitt, and Damon, Gould, Reiner, and Roberts, and so many more. How could we possibly compete?
In reality, we couldn’t. Cameron didn’t fool himself into thinking we’d get Oscar-winning performances, but instead focused on creating a loose, fun environment (an easy task for our crew!) in which the talent could relax, enjoy themselves, and put their best foot forward with no pressure. Even so, we were overjoyed to find a cast that was excited to be there and game for anything. They were committed performers who knew their lines and their roles to a T. Some days, that’s more than you get with professional actors!
Our crew remembers this as one of the most fun shoots we’ve had, and it’s a wonderful feeling to see our hard work reflected in a scene that really does feel like the original.