This was a super fun shoot; we got to make it Christmas in the middle of October, film overnight at a grocery store and work with hilarious comedic talent (not to mention, we had a great crew). In the end, we made something awesome.

In 2017 a client came to us with a unique product that needed an equally unique commercial. SafetyNet job insurance wanted to create a commercial that would grab attention in a memorable way.

Since December is the month with the most layoffs each year, we combined the notion of job loss with a traditionally cheery holiday character and the Layoff Elf was born. The perfect setting: a store at Christmas. It would be the best place to bring together the opposing ideas of credit card debt, shopping, stretched budgets… and layoffs.

Worst Elf Storyboards

You're the worst elf ever!

SabraWoman in checkout line


Lake Mills Market turned out to the be the perfect location for us. Although the date was early October and the store was already decorated for Halloween/Thanksgiving, they were flexible enough to let us get in for an overnight shoot and redecorate for Christmas! That is one detail that many outside of the production industry may not think about: holiday shoots almost always happen well before the actual holiday.

We actually only had enough budget to get decorations that would work for one angle at a time. It would have been unreasonable to decorate the whole store anyway. So as we moved from one set up to the next, the art dec team would shift all of the Christmas elements from one part of the store to another. When it’s all cut together, it looks like the whole store is decorated. Movie magic!

I love the small little details we put into our shoots that very few people may ever notice. I had even forgot until going back to these pictures. Did you see it? The layoff elf has an entire cart full of kleenex.

After a long night at the store, we had almost all of the shots that we needed except for a few details. Our main actor had to leave early so I (John) got to stand in and model a few of the little details like the shoes and hat.


This client and product no longer exists, but this shoot and commercial we produced still stands out as one of my favorites. Merry Christmas! Hopefully no one has to meet the layoff elf this year!