At 3 a.m. during one of the worst snowstorms of the year, Castleton professor Andrew Wilson filmed and directed what later became an award-winning commercial.
When Wilson took the early morning call from Marc Okrant, vice president of marketing at Casella Waste Management, with an offer to film a commercial in the driving snow, he eagerly accepted the opportunity.
“All the weather forecasters were telling people to stay off the roads – every school was cancelled. I said, ‘Sure, why not,’” Wilson said.
That commercial won Wilson the “Best in Show” award at the Vermont Association of Broadcasters Commercial of the Year Awards this past summer.
He worked on the project with Robert Casella, Elizabeth Casella and Okrant, and it took about two months to complete in the spring of 2017.
The commercial showed the dedication of a Casella garbage truck driver named Kenny, who has worked for Casella for 40 years on the Killington route.
Filming in a snow storm created some challenges for Wilson.
Kenny’s truck got stuck in a snowbank before they even started filming. Wilson said one shot they had planned was of Kenny working at night and they couldn’t wait for the tow truck to get those shots.
So while they waited, Wilson filmed the shots he needed by framing them to show Kenny working.
Wilson had not originally planned to enter the commercial in the contest, but Okrant pushed him to because he saw how good it was.
“I had a good feeling that it would win because it captures human emotion, it captures the spirit of Kenny,” Okrant said.
Wilson wasn’t so sure.
“I was stunned when we won the award,” he said.
Wilson said production companies and ad agencies in Chittenden County usually win, so he did not think that he had a chance, but he feels grateful to have won.
Chair of the media and communications department, Michael Talbott, said professors winning awards like this shows how great the faculty at Castleton is.
“It shows people outside of the university recognize the merits of our faculty,” he said.
John Everett, a student of Wilson’s, who has taken almost of his classes, said Wilson is passionate about what he does that shows in the work he produces.
“He has a remarkable ability to execute a plan of action and it’s very clear he takes a lot of pride in his work,” Everett said.
Wilson loves what he does and said success follows when a person chooses to do something they enjoy.
“I try to teach my students that if you love what you do and work really hard at it, you can have success no matter where you end up,” Wilson said.