Berkeley Brings New England to Life for Arbella

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By Jon Chesto Globe Staff

Berkeley brings New England to life for Arbella

When Joe Berkeley wanted to create a true-to-life portrait of New England for Quincy-based insurer Arbella Insurance, he figured he should have real people essentially playing themselves in the TV spots.

If you see an Arbella TV ad featuring motorcyclists helping a driver with a flat tire, those bikers aren’t actors. Neither is the lobsterman who rescues a golden retriever from the water in another TV spot, filmed around Hull in July. That’s captain Chad Mahoney, piloting the First Light, with his son James Mahoney helping out.

“It’s easier to teach a lobsterman to act than to teach an actor to be a lobsterman,” said Berkeley, who wrote and directed the ads with the help of art director/production designer Tim Foley.

Berkeley did have to bring some professionals aboard: The dog owner who gets reunited with her pup, Jihan Haddad, is an actor — as is the dog, Jagger. The Mahoneys have a golden retriever, Oakley. But he didn’t make the cut.

“Oakley demands affection but does not take direction,” Berkeley said. “People feel like Oakley should have gotten the role. I would have loved to have worked with Oakley but I don’t think we would have had a commercial.”