Mexican Restaurant Commercial

by Harlan Yee on October 15th, 2009

Two of my favorite activities have come together in one project! Produce video and eat! I jumped at the chance to produce this Spanish language commercial for a well respected restaurant chain in Seattle called Torero’s Mexican Family Restaurants.



For the past 3 years, I’ve been producing about 70% English spots and 30% Spanish spots. In the beginning, it was a bit of a challenge. I know a tiny bit (un poco) of Spanish from classes in high school which gives me enough to pick out some words here and there. After producing a decent number of Spanish language spots now, I feel pretty comfortable editing them now. I still need help with script translations and especially on screen graphics. One of the biggest mistakes I make with Spanish spots is knowing where to put accent marks.

Toreros Mexican Restaurant 2

All of Torero’s locations are south of Seattle. We arrived before the restaurant opened which gave us a decent amount of time to set up and shoot before they opened for lunch. At this time, we are still shooting anamorphic widescreen SD video on Betacam SX, a digital tape format that isn’t widely used outside of TV stations.

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For lighting, we used a couple of box lights for general lighting and a couple of 650w Desisti’s slashed the walls with light. A pepper was used to highlight food (it’s not a vegetable).

Toreros Mexican Restaurant 3

We started in the kitchen because the food had to be prepared for the main dining room shot. So we definitely shot more footage in the kitchen than we needed because I only used the shot of the grill. When the invited guests started arriving, we finished up in the kitchen and started fine tuning the lighting in the dining room. The colorful decor really helped the backgrounds. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve shot that had plain white walls.

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Toreros Mexican Restaurant 4

As we shot the hungry guests (sounds evil doesn’t it?), we kinda did it freestyle without much planning. We wanted to capture them in the moment of tasting the fantastic food being offered. As they were feasting, we were busy walking around the large table getting close-ups. The food looked great on camera and I was getting hungry. After all, it was lunchtime now.

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Ted Rodriguez on the right – owner (Torrero’s Mexican Family Restaurants), his marketing manager and my account executive were sitting in a booth behind the main table. After a bit of shooting, the Ted encouraged me to join them so I said ok and became one of the extras in the booth. Of course, I had to look like I was having a good time on camera so I got to sample a delicious grilled shrimp burrito. I knew my shooter Mark had a grasp on what to shoot but I felt guilty eating while he was still working. So I didn’t sit there long. For the final shots, we staged a few key close-up shots.

When we were done shooting,  Ted Rodriguez treated us to an amazing lunch at Torero’s Mexican Restaurant. Which reminds me that I need to head out there for lunch again one of these days. They had a machine that made fresh tortillas which is the best I’ve ever had! Check out this video and see how fresh and puffy they are!


 We left and I was extremely happy with the shots we got. Editing was a snap with Adobe Premiere CS3.

Just curious how many of you out there work on spots in languages other than your native language?


Toreros Mexican Restaurant 1

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