A quirky must-watch-again story whose ending you didn’t see coming, which won a silver at Spikes Asia in Film Craft. Director Mark Albiston takes us through the making of film ‘Dylan’ for Lotto from DDB New Zealand.
This is a beautifully quirky film. Tell us about the starting point of this campaign. What kind of brief did you receive and what were you thinking when you saw it?
At the centre of the original agency script was a boy who did something amazing despite being challenged as a wee sportsman. This was the nugget that I loved in the original idea, along with the voice over which reminded me in tone and texture of the Fantastic Mr Fox.
Do you identify with any of the characters in the script? If so, why?
I’ve been the boy in the film. I’ve been the coach and the dad who is feeling his son’s every triumph and disaster from the sideline and the family of bored relatives who have heard one of my stories far too many times.
The great thing that I’ve had watching it is that they can relate this film to their own kids dads and 13 year old crushes.
Did this kind of script play to your strengths?
I really like underplayed comedy. It’s the stuff that I laugh at – the more it reminds me of the oddness that I’ve experienced along the way in life – the more I laugh.
It’s funny, I’ve always wanted to cast a really big physical and social mismatch, love/like affair. I guess that’s what I bought to this script. Really tall teenage girls dancing with short teenage boys are etched into my brain.
I really like comedy and drama. I don’t really specialise in either but I love making people remember and feel stuff.
What did you want to make the audience feel with this ad?
The central idea was always that an unlikely kid would have a life changing moment that the rest of the world might or might not notice. I wanted the audience to remember a moment like this in their own life and feel like this kid was once them.
What was your approach to making the ad?
My approach as always is to find out what makes it tick, looking at the creatives’ vision and central idea and trying to enhance or add things around this idea to give it strength. Drawing on my memories is always a big part of what comes through in my process, I guess.
What was the casting process like? What did you look for in the cast to capture the emotion in the story?
I cast for great characters. I’m never prescriptive about demographics or physical appearances; diversity just falls into place if you feel involved with the characters that have you falling in love with them.
I had no idea that we’d cast a Samoan science teacher; he was just the best character who felt most like a science teacher to us. Lauie stepped into the audition and there was a real Jedi like nature to his performance. We embraced this idea and used it in the film.
What were you trying to evoke with the cinematography?
I wanted the photography to be under played lighting wise. I’ve worked with Marty Williams for years and he totally gets it. The camera movement was carefully orchestrated – the racing up of the kids mimicking the train that we see going past in the background at the head of the film, the sound design reflecting the train on the tracks.
Still frames and moving frames working hard for the comedy, tracking shots of kids screaming as they run cut hard into still wide frames of bored family members at the dinner table.
We were really aware of the pace and tone ofthe voice over and playing against and with that throughout the spot.
What were you thinking when it came to the voiceover?
The voice over hasn’t changed much at all from the original script – probably my biggest brain tease was who should voice it. As I racked my brain I came to a really obvious conclusion. That we needed JohnBach. He’s great right? He’s one of my favourite actors and voices in New Zealand. I’ve watched him in so many roles over the years and he’s been a standout for me.
What were the trickiest components during the creation of this campaign and how did you overcome them?
To be honest it felt like hanging out with an old friend making this spot, the characters and the crew that made it, helped to make it so. Talking in terms of just making the film itself – it was lots of fun.
Agency: DDB New Zealand
Chief Creative Officer: Damon Stapleton
Executive Creative Director: Shane Bradnick
Creative Directors: Brett Colliver and Mike Felix
Lead Business Partner: Zoe Alden / Kate Lines
Planning Director: Rupert Price
Agency Producer: Rosie Grayson
Executive Producer: Judy Thompson
Production Company: Sweetshop
Managing Director/ Executive Producer: Fiona King
Producer: Andy Mauger
Director: Mark Albiston
DOP: Marty Williams
Post Production Company: Grade – Pete Ritchie
Post production online: Palace Studio
Editor: Luke Haigh
Soundtrack/Composer/Music: Cam Ballantyne – Beatworms
Chief Marketing Officer: Guy Cousins
General Manager, Corporate Communications and Social Responsibility: Emilia Mazur