Fresh from his hit HSBC spot, he’s been described as The Sweet Shop’s resident “relationship guru”. Director Louis Sutherland now takes us behind the scenes as he depicts another tight bond for Royal Bank of Scotland.
This is a beautiful 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?
It is a brilliantly structured script. I loved how it allowed us to share in a loving relationship, which made it modern and refreshing in my mind.
There’s a very cyclic narrative to the script, did this play to your strengths?
Possibly. The moment I saw it was cyclic it was back to the drawing board looking for moments that made each cycle different from the one before and after. Little details in the day that made it memorable and somehow created a thread through the film the audience could enjoy and hold on to. In this case, it was the use of flowers which broke the general day to day monotony and fed the final act/ending.
What did you want to make the audience feel with this ad?
I just wanted them to care about our heroes and their life.
What was your approach to making the ad?
As in most situations, I like to pre-pro and lock everything down so we can then let go of the reins on set. Freak out within the form is the theatre term, where you rehearse the shit out of a show only so you can forget it all after opening night and discover things through each show. On set, this meant letting the cast try things plus layering more sauce and direction take to take. It’s these unwritten moments that let the ad breath.
What was the casting process like? What did you look for in the cast to capture the emotion in the story?
We had a great casting team in Edinburgh. As we had one half of our cast carried over fromRoyal Bank’s last campaign, it meant building on the character of Tracy. We had our already casted actress come in for auditions and improvise with the other actresses. I could see right away the visual and physical connection. The physical interplay needed to feel as authentic as possible and the comfort with each other was key to this. I wasn’t afraid of dialing the performances up, but firstly wanted to see two people who felt good together and who we wouldn’t look at twice if crossing the street in front of us.
And the location. What was your thinking here?
A home is a home. It needed to have good depth for shooting and our art department needed to make it feel completely lived in and a home to these lovers for at least a decade of their relationship. They did a great job colouring the location in. One of the art department on-set dressers brought half her home onto the set. The result felt instantly eye catching and full of backstory.
What were you trying to evoke with the cinematography? What were the structural and emotional needs of the story?
This needed to feel observed and intimate, so visually I wanted moments of being back and watching, then jumping right in there with a lens. It’s a real balance and we really had to work out the language because I didn’t want us feeling the lens in this film. This wasn’t a high-energy car spot. It’s a story about a persons’ wants and needs. My friend DP Erik Wilson and I use the boards as a guideline but always let the rules go on-set to make the most of light and things we can see. We shoot additional frame sizes where we think they’ll improve the filmic language. Of course, with a cyclic narrative we wanted tore-use frame sizes and compositions so each repeated space could communicate itself quickly to the audience every time we cycled back. This earned the time for us to film additional human moments where we weren’t watching the actor just racing about and doing, but rather watch her emoting or the sense she was taking a breather observing her own life.
What were the trickiest components during the creation of this campaign and how did you overcome them?
With this spot, I think the most unique element of the story, our couple, needed the most focus in getting right. We didn’t want this to feel token or exploitative so their relationship needed to matter to the audience. Casting was the key to this story and fortunately the two actresses were completely open to each other and had great trust and respect. Once we won this battle I think we all felt we were in a good place to deal with everything else.