Bill O'Neil - director
"Grab my camera!"
I always try and shoot still photos for each production. I included links to the completed spots and anecdotes from the set.
Directing the live action portion for Disney's Mickey's 60th Birthday.
A young director directing a young actor for a Disney special Mickey's 60th Birthday. I snagged some good Disney merchandise from this shoot!
Bill O'Neil animating the refrigerator scene for Pee Wee's Playhouse.
Me behind a Mitchell rack-over camera shooting a stop-motion scene for Pee Wee's Playhouse.
I was the last stop motion animator for the Pillsbury Doughboy. We had a box of Doughboy heads with different mouth positions that were changed out frame by frame.
The Doughboy is animated in the computer today. I miss the old stop motion look.
Bill animating the Doughboy frosting a cake in 1993.
The Doughboy was attached to a rod that was later painted out in post.
Changing the Doughboy's head under some hot lights.
A miniature building built by the talented Todd Fellows for "The Sand Angels".
On the set of The Sand Angels with a rocket built by Todd Fellows.
The Sand Angels set. We shot it at our dilapidated apartment building on the Santa Monica Beach.
Interior scene for The Sand Angels. The film went straight to video and a corrupt distributor sold it on VHS all over the country and they never sent us a dime.
The crew of The Sand Angels. Mike Saad, Tom Shaughnessy, Dave Drzewiecki, Bill O'Neil & Margaret Herron.
A miniature school yard built for an Ohio Art commercial.
Shooting a spot for "Spray FX" -an airbrush product for Ohio Art.
Working with a young actor for the doll, Betty Spaghetty. That's my daughter Sarah behind me.
The girls and I pose with the mix 'n match doll, Betty Spaghetty.
All-purpose filmmaker/cameraman Jim Tianis framing a shot. You'll see Jimmy a lot on these pages. Not only is he the best cameraman in Chicago, he functions as my auxiliary brain on set. Jim has great instincts and a brings a fresh approach to make the shot better.
Creating a stop-motion scene with Betty Spaghetty where the doll spins around to land in a pose. It was fun to get back to my stop motion roots.
Shooting the final shot of a retro 70's spot for Edwardo's Pizza. The disco guy was unable to roller skate so we decided to have him just dance away from the camera.
Having a laugh with the Disco guy actor for Edwardo's Pizza.
Strike a pose! Channeling Tony Manero for Edwardo's Pizza.
We had a food stylist for the veggies in the Edwardo's Pizza spot. She hand-placed water droplets on the tomatoes.
Doing a camera rise on the pie.
That's a deep dish!
Behind the scenes with Elvira. I directed & edited her promo for her pinball game "Scared Stiff"
Cassandra was kind enough to do a funny bit for my reel.
Elvira (Cassandra) is actually a pretty good pinball player.
Framing the shot for "Ever Cash" for State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka.
Collaborating with Jim Tianis on the set of Ever Cash. (My brother's kitchen.)
Bill O'Neil going over the shot with the actor. Jim Tianis readies his camera.
Shooting a Turtle Wax spot in Orlando.
Turtle Wax shoot. We went to Orlando in February for some sunny weather and it rained all day.
We waited patiently for the rain to clear enough to get a shot. I invited cameraman Jim Tianis to partake in the frolics. This might have been the last spot we shot on 35mm film.
I really thought my career was over but the rain stopped long enough to get our shots. It's amazing what a few HMI lights can do to fake sunshine. Turtle Wax spot.
Shooting a blood pressure device that fits on the wrist for Omron.
Jim Tianis setting up a shot on our living room set for a nebulizer spot for Omron.
Actor John Hardgrove using the old nebulizer for an Omron nebulizer spot.
On set with Lacie for a North Community Bank spot.
North Community Bank spot.
Production still from North Community Bank spot. There's a funny out-take with an over-anxious dog tagged on the end of this spot.
On set with Green Bay Packer A.J. Hawk for an ATI Physical Therapy spot.
Working with the actors for an iMattress spot for King Koil where space aliens arrive.
Checking the playback for the iMattress scene.
Having a laugh watching the playback with the actors for iMattress. I like to show the actors the scene when they're finished or just to massage the performance.
A spot with rapper Talib Kweli for Big Ten. I created the entire scene in Adobe After Effects using just green screen elements I shot on a stage.
Rapper Talib Kweli and Bill O'Neil. Kweli wrote and performed the soundtrack for the spots.
The entire crowd was populated with just a handful of people shot against green.
Here I am setting up the actors for the various crowd scenes.
Directing my daughter Sarah on the turntable with a vintage TV and projector. Read my tutorial on this complicated spot.
Giving direction to the DJ in the scene. After Effects Tutorial
Watching playback for the DJ element for the second Big Ten spot.
Shooting an abandoned iron for a Blue Chip Casino spot. We rigged a steamer through the bottom of the ironing board.
Jim Tianis setting up a shot of an abandoned tub overflowing for Blue Chip Casino.
We shot the scene in my garage so the water would flow out to the driveway.
Wide shot of the corner of a garage propped up to look like a bathroom for a Blue Chip Casino spot.
Recording Artist Marc Broussard for a video I did for his song "Rock Steady".
Marc Broussard and me on set. Marc is one of the best singers on the planet.
We put Marc on a turntable and I matched the movements in post for the virtual world.
Sometimes I put myself in the scene when I'm short on actors. Here I am in a scene for Chicago Home Fitness.
In the Feldco warehouse for another window spot featuring the installers.
Little did we know that Jim Tianis was such a great actor. We cast him in a series of Feldco Window spots as the comic foil for Installer Dave.
Doing a dolly shot of the proud Feldco Installers walking majestically.
I shot Dave in my garage with no crew to create this red carpet spot for Feldco.
Actor Jim Tianis commands his installers for another Feldco installer spot.
Dave and I posing for a Feldco production still. I've been making the Feldco spots for almost 10 years. I really like these folks and it's a great company!
Another shot of the Feldco Installer dolly shot.
Setting up a shot for Kaehler Luggage spot.
I put myself in this Kaehler Luggage spot. I actually like the way these spots turned out for not having any budget. Sometimes not having much money forces you to get more creative.
Back in my garage for the Kernel Seasons popcorn seasoning spot.
In my garage shooting the Kernel Seasons spot with creator Brian Taylor We had a food stylist to make the food look pretty. Gaffer Helmut Luchs is on the right. Helmut and I have worked together for 20 years. He's the best lighting guy in Chicago!
On Set with our dancers for the King Koil World Luxury Mattress spot. We played music and let the actors go! It was a fun editing job to shop all these great dancing bits together.
It's easier to shoot a driving scene in a controlled environment rather than using a camera car on the road. This was part of another King Koil Duck Dynasty Mattress spot.
Jim Tianis on the set with Quan Chi for the Midway videos for MK Mythologies.
There are some great out-takes from actor Richard Divizio who played Mortal Combat character Quan Chi. Rich has a great sense of humor!
On the Mortal Kombat set. Jim Tianis and I directed all of the Videos for these Midway Sub Zero Mythologies games.
Rich Divizio posing with me on the MK Mythologies set.
In the dressing room with Art Director Michelle and one our twin babies cast for an Omron Thermometer spot.
It is typical to cast twins in a baby spot in case one gets ornery. We never needed the second twin for this spot. The baby seemed very comfortable in the scene. It must be my calm demeanor. Ha!
I'm not sure what I was gesturing here, but we got a nice looking shot with the baby.
Directing the actors playing the mom & dad.
We shot the thermometer after the babies and actors were released.
Shooting a Peapod testimonial spot in my kitchen with Elana. My wife Cindy appears in the spot with other Peapod online grocery shopping users.
Another Peapod spot shot behind our home.
On set with Nasreen for a Protection 1 spot
On Set with James for the Protection 1 home security spot. James is a fire chief but he was great on camera.
Shooting James for the Protection 1 spot. We shot everything on green and I composited the scenes together in Adobe After Effects. I wrote the music and did the VO for this one as well.
I shot and directed a music video with the band Saliva for the Midway game Spyhunter.
I shot a bunch of Sears spots on a stage.
Lots of scenes to shoot for the Sears spots. I like the minimalist set pieces.
Cameraman and King of all things, Jim Tianis lining up a shot for the Sears spot.
A night scene for a Sears' spot.
Megan getting in make-up for the famous Back to Bed end scene.
Shooting Megan roll over on the pillow. We shot this scene in my daughter's bedroom. I also wrote the Back to Bed "Make yourself comfortable" jingle and voiced this spot.
Jim Tianis and me shooting one of many Walter E. Smithe spots.
On set with Tim Smithe and Pam.
Checking the shot with Pam and Gaffer Helmut Luchs.
The Smithe Brothers getting ready for the shot. To economize, we try and capture many spots in one shooting day.
Bill O'Neil standing behind the Smithe Brothers for a KFC spot that they were invited to appear in.
On set with the cast and crew for the KFC spot. I really had fun working with the actors on this spot. They were from all walks of life. The kids steal the show,
Getting the camera ready for another Walter E. Smithe spot. The brothers and I have developed a real trust and shorthand with each other. They're a pleasure to work with.
Grips Don and Tony sit in before the Smithe Brothers arrive on set to shoot the Babies spot.
Getting ready to shoot the Smithe Brothers separately for the Babies Spot. We shot the babies first and I pasted the Brothers' heads on the babies bodies. The spot won me my second Emmy.
Getting ready for another Smithe green screen shoot. Mark Smithe in the chair.
What could be more fun to watch Billy Corgan's Wrestlers pummeling the Smithe Brothers? I shot the entire scene in about an hour. I remember just running around grabbing hand-held coverage of the beatings. Billy had some great ideas from all his experience with music videos.
Billy and Billy.
Shooting the ice fishing scene for the Smithe Olympic Curling spot.
Withe Steve Dahl at Millennium Park, Chicago
The Smithe Cook-Off spot with Steve Dahl. I wrote a bunch of play by play gibberish and voiced it in my pompous British accent for effect.
Jim Tianis shooting the Smithe Brothers at Wrigley Field
With Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks at the Wrigley Field Ivy. We shot a Field of Dreams type spot for Walter E. Smithe Furniture with Ernie and Billy emerging from the ivy. I wrote the music for this spot as well.
With Ernie Banks and Billy Williams after we shot the Smithe Spot. I asked Billy if he was William Williams and he said, 'Bill, Look. I'm from the South. It's just Billy."
It was a blast to work with my childhood sports heroes!
Wally Smithe as "Super Cub"!
The Smithe Brothers at Wrigley Field giving me a lift after a long day of shooting.
Directing the '85 Chicago Bears for a Smithe Brothers spot on Soldier Field.
It takes a lot of gear to make furniture look sexy!
The sexy crew sitting on some sexy furniture at Walter E. Smithe.
I shot at Buckingham Fountain with the Jesse White tumblers. As a former gymnast, this was a thrill for me to see these talented young kids flipping over the Smithe Brothers!
The Smithe brothers about to take a drink.
Jim Tianis shooting a pool scene with Petey the protective bulldog.
Jim Tianis shooting Wally Smithe in the pool. The trusty bulldog is on hand for protection.
Cameraman Jim Tianis and sound guy Tom Zimmerman capture the shot.
Billy & Jimmy. We had Jimmy for about 20 minutes to get the shot for a Smithe Brothers Spot.
Jimmy and the Smithe brothers. The spot deals with Furniture and Chocolate.
Mark Smithe is a Brad Pitt wig for a spot that was too dangerous to air.
The crew on set with puppets.
Bill O'Neil & Tim Smithe with Puppet Mark. I shot the three puppets separately and composited them in a world I created in After Effects for the Smithe Puppet Spot.
Lolly the puppet master pulling the strings.
Internet sensation Sammy Stevens and me. Hey hey!
On Set for another crazy Smithe spot.
On set with our dancer for the Smithe spoof on the iPod spots.
Another shot from the Smithe "Garage Band" spot.
On set with the Smithe Brothers and our Obama impersonator.
On Set with the president (or a good impressionist.)
On Set with the Smithe brothers for a Wrigley Field name change spoof.
A car scene with Tim Smithe Jr. for A/C Pro. I had a cameo in this as the animated mechanic.
The Unitrin "Click Click" spot shot partially in my driveway..
Guiding our actor through this difficult scene of looking at her laptop for the Unitrin "Click Click" spot..
We needed a cop pullover scene for Unitrin Insurance. When bystanders ask me what we're shooting, I always say, "a Pepsi commercial."
Preparing our cop actor for the scene on Kenilworth Ave..
We had to hire a real cop to direct traffic.
Bill O'Neil in a vintage car for a Unitrin Insurance retro spot.
Actors on set for the vintage spot for Unitrin Insurance.
The car scene for the Duck Dynasty Mattress spot.
My beautiful wife Cindy and me after winning my second Emmy.
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All spots, photos and music © 2020 by Bill O'Neil