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29th August 2012
New director: Greg Davenport
Title of film: Given Up, Giving Up
Director: Greg Davenport
Production Company: Epoch Films
Cutting his directing teeth on music videos

Self-acclaimed Milton Keynes Rock, Paper Scissors champion 1992, Greg Davenport who also has a full-time job in-house at Epoch Films has directed a couple of cracking music videos this year – Paper Trench for Admiral Fallow (see Related Content) and now Given Up, Giving for Lilygreen & Maguire. Here he tells 1.4 about the production of making this delightful film.

The brief for Lilygreen & Maguire’s Given Up, Giving was pretty open but we all agreed we wanted to stay away from a straight-up, ordinary romantic storyline. I knew a Karate Kid-esque, archetypal plucky-loser turned victorious-winner story would work for the song – and as it’s a genre we’re all so very familiar with I wanted the competition itself to be a little quirky and unexpected.

So I trawled the internet for the strangest competitions I could find, and after a brief flirtation with Snail Racing (as a kid I kept snails from the garden and bred them in plastic tanks, much to my mother’s dismay with the continued disappearance of lettuces from the fridge) I eventually settled on Rock, Paper Scissors.

I thought there would be something inherently funny in a kid training so religiously for a competition that is largely seen as nothing more than blind luck and chance. And a child being so obsessed with something that maybe adults don’t fully understand (but go along with anyway) is something I think a lot of us can definitely empathise with.

To supplement the core idea I wanted to create this whole stylised world around it, with an official organisation, emblem and costumes.

This was where I thought the film could really stand out. I wanted it to be distinctive, cinematic and rich in detail. So from the moment we started, every single decision we made, be it production design, locations or costumes were made with a very specific colour palette in mind; primarily blues and yellows and locations with dark-stained wood to give a nostalgic, timeless feel.

For example there were so many tiny little rock, paper scissors related items in the bedroom, although sadly most of it wasn’t seen due to our wide angle, composed style of shooting – but it was so important that the detail was there to give us that depth and unity to the finished piece.

The two Jon’s in the band hadn’t put out anything other than pure performance before so I have no doubt they would have been a little nervous at the prospect of a different video initially, but we knew that if we made a great little film with a distinctive look, it would not only please their current fans but expose the finished work to a much wider audience.

The casting was always going to be crucial to the success of the video and we had an intense few days trawling through headshots then we undertook one mammoth casting session.
We’d been looking to cast a kid who was maybe 9-11 years old but able to play younger, with that added maturity being paramount, but then seven-year old Thomas walked in and he completely blew us away.

He had a kind of self-assurance, indeed I’d go as far to say arrogance you would never expect from someone so young, but so crucial to be able to handle the pressure of this shoot. Tom is not easily fooled and so incredibly smart, you would find yourself having very grown-up conversations with him before flitting back to goofing around.

We shot for two jam-packed days, two of the hottest days of the year. The bedroom location, in Streatham with it’s wood-clad walls effectively worked as a sauna but everyone was so focused and methodical we got through it brilliantly.

The second day was based at Kingsbury School in North London, and with something like 20+ child extras and parents in tow as well a bunch of the band’s own fans on set we had an absolutely mad and hectic time of it.

We got great performances out of our little cast but I knew all along that when it came to shooting our final scene; with the finale of the Rock, Paper Scissors competition on stage, the band on one side, a number of confetti cannons standing by off stage and a load of excitable children shuffling restlessly in their seats all hell would break loose. And so it was.

With the time available we only had a chance to run that action through a couple of times, so the stress on everyone, especially for Matt our cinematographer and our camera/lighting department was immense – but we got everything we needed and I’m really proud of where we’ve ended up.

Credits
Given Up, Giving Up Credits List:

Director: Greg Davenport
Producer: Licia Conn
Production Assistant: Bryony Spencer
Production Company: Epoch Films

Cinematographer: Matthew Taylor
Focus Puller: Emilio Sclappi
Steadicam Op: Andrew Fletcher
Clapper/DIT: Ashley Cutmore
Gaffer: Robert White
Sparks: Matt Vahey, Steve Garay
Production Designer: Merel Graeve
Art Dept Assistant: Hendrik Faller
Costume Designer: Amy Addison
Make-Up: Katie Coward

Editor: Chris Roebuck @ Speade
Colourist: Edwin Metternich @ Framestore
Label: Warner Bros / Rachael Paley

Starring: Thomas Harrison
& Victoria Allies, Emily Trappen, Max De Montule, Jamie Smith, Huw Sam, Sue Parker Nutley + Seabass the dog.

Special thanks; Thomas & the Harrison family, Jen Herrera @ Las Bandas, Rob, Dave & Claire, Patsy D, Ella Richards, Marc Page, Kingsbury High School, Lucy Jayne Ratcliffe, Rob Saunders.

Admiral Fallow,  Paper Trench  

Director: Greg Davenport
Producer: Licia Conn
DoP: Matthew Taylor
Focus Puller: Emilio Schlappi
2nd AC / DIT: Ali King
1st AD: Lynsey Stewart
Costume: Ashley Clarke, Sammm Agnew
Hair & MU: Sammm Agnew
Locations & Production Design: Tom Chick
Editor: Chris Roebuck @ Speade
Sound Design: Leandro Otero
CG Producer: Luke Toyne @ Rushes
CGI: Andrew Robertson & Andy Hargreaves @ Rushes
VFX: Stirling Achibald & Ryan Hadfield @ MPC
& Richard White, Andy Barnard @ Rushes
Colourist: Toby Tomkins
Prod Co: Epoch London
Label: Nettwerk

Special Thanks: Jen Herrera @ Las Bandas Be Brave, Jenna Baum, Dave Knox, Rob Godbold, Ella Richards, Caroline Laing, Paul Jones, Sam Davidson, Julie Evans, Steve Gatti, Robin Morton, Meg Greenhorn, Nicky Carder, Harry Manley, Nelson Plasencia, Murray Alford.