'Just Shoot It!'

HOW A HAND-HELD DSLR SHOOT IN MY KITCHEN EVOLVED INTO TWO TV COMMERCIALS AND TWO STILLS CAMPAIGNS

Around three years ago now I did a stills and film campaign for the Savile Row Tailors Association. It was published by GQ. The brief was very vague: “Make it cool...shoot it on white”, that kind of thing. 

It was a dream job for a Stills Photographer. 12 of Britain’s top rock stars all dressed in bespoke Savile Row suits. Shot - or should I say exported and published - in black and white. Elton John, Paul Weller, Ray Davies, the list went on.

I shot the stills, and the accompanying film in my kitchen at my studio. That may sound silly but my kitchen has bay doors and the best daylight in London. We shot over five days, and the schedule for these guys was TIGHT.

Our Robbie enjoying the splendid daylight space (the kitchen!) at our Shoreditch studio...

Our Robbie enjoying the splendid daylight space (the kitchen!) at our Shoreditch studio...

 Photographed by John Wright

So, I hatched a little plan for the film and just shot it right there with a handheld DSLR. The only exception was Jarvis Cocker. I knew I wanted to capture him dancing in silhouette, so I shot him in the studio under lights with a fixed camera.

Hey presto. It all worked beautifully and I love that film. Everyone does. Except GQ at the time. But “oh well”.

WAITING FOR THE RIGHT PROJECT

So, this little film sat on my website ever since. No one seemed to react to it in a massive way, but I like it, so there it stays.

Then, at the end of last year a job came in: Two TV commercials and two stills campaigns to accompany them. The reference? “The black and white film you made for GQ!” 

The fact was that Creative Director, Chris Myers, at the splendid LOVE agency in Manchester, had seen the film and kept it in his head waiting for the right project. And that project came along in the form of their client, JD Williams, aiming to create a fresh, impactful series of visuals for their Spring and Summer campaigns.

And off we went. Throughout pre-production, we kept returning to the rhythm, movement and “cool” of that GQ film. The agency’s inspired decision to use 'Teenage Kicks' by the The Undertones further reinforced the feel of British cool.

WATCH THE ACTION FROM BEHIND THE SCENES

When I think back now to the tiny, improvised “...just shoot it” approach to the original kitchen shoots, it's incredible to have seen it evolve into the massive production that was our four day shoot at The Space Project in Manchester.


Shoot 1: Three of us. Daylight. Kitchen.
Shoot 2: Gaffer and 5 crew. Grip. 2 DOPs. 2 Set Builders. 3 ADs. 4 Producers. 1 Account Manager. 2 Clients. 2 Stylists. 4 Make-up Crew. 3 Runners. 2 Digit Assistants. 1 DIT. 1 Playback. 1 Creative Director. And me.

And the results?

Well, you can judge for yourself, right here :)

JUST SHOOT IT

The lesson in all of this for me is when time is against you, there’s no budget, no clear creative brief, but you have a good idea: Just shoot it. Make it the best you can and put it out there! You never know when that call might come in!

 

Ps… there was a strange coincidence with these two projects! Mark Ronson was in the first film, and his step mum Michele was in the second. Just sayin'.

Mark Ronson from our original Savile Row project...

Mark Ronson from our original Savile Row project...

Mark's stepmother MIchele in the JD Williams campaign.

Mark's stepmother MIchele in the JD Williams campaign.

VIEW THE COMPLETE JD WILLIAMS CAMPAIGN

To browse through the different components of our JD Williams TV ad campaign, watch both adverts and view the stills campaigns, visit our project page here.


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