This is the first M-Net brand campaign to be made in over a decade. The ad, “My Life As A Movie”, stars Emmanuel Castis whose character’s life story is told through clips and narration as if it were a movie to draw comparisons between on screen and real life.
The ad was a collaboration between Ogilvy and Picture Tree Films, was directed by JH Beetge and filmed over 2 days after more than 2 months of pre-production.
Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg, Mariana O’Kelly, answered a few questions about the making of the ad:
What was the process of creating the scenes for the ad?
O’Kelly: After it was written, the creative team spent weeks plugging and crafting scenes. We wanted to write scenes with universal insights that most people could relate to. We wanted it to be real and not clichéd ad scenes to allow viewers to relate to M-Net’s magic in a way that was more personal and real. For every line, we had about 20 scenes.
Once Picture Tree Films’ short film and commercial director, JH Beetge, came onboard it was a complete collaboration and we tortured over every scene again to make sure we could achieve the right mix of emotions and not necessarily show and tell every line. It was important to maintain a cinematic feel (using 35mm film), but also to keep it real and sincere. We had to get this balance right for the ad to work.
You had 24 scenes to shoot over a very short period with the aim to make the ad feel like a short film. Can you tell us about this?
O’Kelly: To achieve this, we had to work as smartly and efficiently as possible. We shot the entire commercial on stills after the locations were pinned down and worked out every angle because we didn’t have time to shoot close-ups and wide angles on the different scenes.
We had to point the camera, get the right emotion and shoot. After recording a guide voice track to give us an idea of timing, we put together a previz and mapped out each scene to the last detail before we got to set.
We also needed to be clever about locations as we couldn’t move around too much over two days. Variety of location in one location was therefore the brief. With careful planning, we managed to shoot all 24 scenes in only four locations. The way we handled the production meant that very little wastage of footage occurred in the edit. The edit became a crafting session.
Is it true that you had a ghost on set?
O’Kelly: Luckily we knew beforehand that Park Station is haunted! In the director’s location shots, five figures showed up very clearly. This is not a hoax. Thankfully, the ghosts didn’t show up on the day of the shoot. (That we know of). We were more focused on the freezing temperatures – the ad was shot during a freak cold front.
Apparently one of the stunts didn’t go quite according to plan?
O’Kelly: We did the stunt on the motorbike with our stuntman on a separate night, attaching a go-pro to his chest and helmet. He fell and broke his collarbone. (We still managed to get the shot). Amazingly, he offered to do the stunt again after being discharged from hospital!
What was it like working with Emmanuel Castis, the lead in the story?
O’Kelly: We first cast Castis, our hero, and then we had to find the three younger versions of him, aged five, 11 and 17. Not an easy feat!
Castis was a good sport. He never complained – even when he got showered with rain in the forest scene in sub-zero temperatures and had to sit through over an hour of being made up to look as though he’d just had an accident.
The car in the accident scene belonged to the Art Director. Fortunately it was a close-up, so Cowboy, our friendly tow-truck driver, helped the art department carefully replace the window with shards of glass.
Executive Creative Director: Fran Luckin
Creative Director: Mariana O’Kelly
Copywriter: Stephanie van Niekerk
Art Director: Renier Zandberg
Agency Producer: Debbie Dannheiser