Entertainment giant Disney set out to leverage its diverse media portfolio by promoting Marvel Studios Iron Fist series on its cable sports network ESPN. Marvel’s Iron Fist was created for Netflix based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name.
To garner attention to the new series and tie in a sports oriented theme that would feel right at home on ESPN, world renowned superstar UFC fighter – the notorious Conor McGregor was brought in to be pitted against ESPN Sportcenter anchor Stan Verrett in an ultimate showdown fight where Stan can focus his chi into an Iron Fist and pose a true threat.
ESPN working together with Marvel Studios brought in Marek to shoot the fight posters of the fictional fight between Stan and Conor.
“As is often the case with these types of shoots, you work with your team for hours to plan and setup for the shots, designing the lighting, working out the details so that you’re ready and able to get everything you need to deliver the shots knowing that you’re only getting a few minutes with each celebrity.”
“I also needed to build into the lighting setup the flexibility to very quickly adjust from a showdown side pose where McGregor and Verrett face towards each other and a more confrontational pose where each of them face menacingly towards camera.” This was achieved by mounting the main light on a boom arm, so it could be swung into the different positions that worked for the different angles.
“The shots were intended to be delivered black & white, but I shot them in color for maximum flexibility in post. With that being the plan, I used a color gel on the kick light so that I’d be able to adjust its intensity afterwards.”
Utilizing Phase One Camera Systems’ Capture One Pro imaging software to tether the camera to a Microsoft Surface Book for image review, Marek was able to view each frame out of the camera with his pre-designed black and white look applied. “Having the near final look baked into each shot made it easy for my client to approve the shots without needing to visualize how they might look further down the process.”
“Both the guys were great to work with. I think Stan really enjoyed being portrayed as a prizefighter and relished the image of himself as a celebrity athlete as someone who’s a sports anchor. Conor has a well-honed, instinctive media savvy. He was very enthusiastic about the look of the lighting. I think that’s part of the magic of strobe lighting—it lasts for an imperceptible moment that only the camera sees and it’s so markedly different from the look in the room, the "house lights." Once he saw how good they looked, he not only spent some time picking his favorite images, but he also wanted to jump back in for a few more shots because he wanted to do better, that was really enjoyable and collaborative.”