Shooting for TV
The Emirates shoot taught me one big lesson…That’s to believe in myself and say yes first and worry about details afterwards! When the call came in “are you free in a couple of weeks to direct a commercial” I said “of course!” Who wouldn’t right? As a experienced studio stills creative, I knew I was well placed to deliver on this. Shooting for TV, how hard could that be!
Timescales and Production
The production time on this shoot was just 2 weeks. They were not joking. In the world of advertising and the multitude of people that had to be involved from creatives, agents, account handlers, agency production, Clearcast to the layers of clients themselves this really was not long enough! But, when your name is called, you just have to stand up and get on with whatever is about to be thrown at you!
Ideas and Logistics
The next two weeks was taken up with a crazy amount of back and forth between my agent and the agency. A big client, and a big agency comes with a lot of communications and meetings. The hardest thing for us was to figure out quickly how we could shoot the scene. We had the key visual to match. The TV spots were already picked and bought. We had to come up with the solution and fast.
Filming on a real Emirates plane as it was sitting on the tarmac was ruled out. There was no time to get that kind of permission in place with a major airport and the client would never hold a plane on the ground any longer than was necessary. So, we went to plan B, which is get creative. We explored many options including building a plane interior in a film studio, shooting on a similar plane and replacing the seats with ones we needed, model making or retouching in post-production the interior to get as close as we could to what we wanted. Nothing stacked up with the timing and budget we had available. The only option left was a CG render that we could and manipulate in SFX. This was the perfect execution, of course. It was the only solution.
The Set Up
The hero of the film was the glass and drink in the foreground with the Arsenal football team playing on the seat back in front of the viewer. I worked with the dynamite drinks stylist Ray Spencer, whose job it was to make sure our drink was sparkling fresh, and the lemon was dropping perfectly in time and in the right place! It was a simple set up really with the back projected CG screen playing slowed down football. Although the glass was going to be placed on our CG moving image for clarity of final execution, we did still need the football and chair to work through the transparent areas and for everything then to tie together in post.
The football had to be slowed down in speed as we were shooting at a very high frame rate to ensure we had control over the drink and moving elements. If all of this was not enough, the shoot landed on the hottest days of the year. It was indeed a tough and sweaty day!
We shot in my studio to give us maximum flexibility and set up time. Budgets were tight but that’s not necessarily an issue. When our production must be super careful about what to spend money on, everyone suddenly gets very resourceful!
My filming partners were the amazing duo Rick and Joe. Shooting for TV was well in their comfort zone, and their years of high level film production experience was invaluable in working through the technical issues surrounding how to control the filming and all the post so we could deliver the commercial on time and on budget.