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17th October 2012
Wacky wonderful
Title of film: Drambuie
Director: Chino Moya
Production Company: HSI London
HSI director Chino Moya discusses how he created his surreal universe for Drambuie and we showcase more of his work in Related Content

What was the original brief and was there creative room for you to develop the script?

The original brief was very similar to what you see in the final version in terms of structure, but that was it. Except for the presence of a bar, a barman, the zig-zag flooring and some notes about the style, all the characters and sets were pretty open for the director to bring his own stuff. I had plenty of space to incorporate ideas and some kind of personal universe into it.

Love the tonal references to David Lynch and Salvador Dali. What is it in your background that has ignited the surreal influences?

I guess that that’s always been with me. I was drawn to fantastic and surreal worlds in general from a very early age. They were always my favourites. As a child I loved the weird characters and places depicted in books like Alice in Wonderland, The Baron of Münchausen, Andersen’s Fairy Tales… And also lots and lots of comic-books…

What was behind your decision to shoot / grade it in black and white?

That came from the agency. They had the idea of shooting black and white and keeping the bottle and the drinks in colour.

It looks anything but easy but was the shoot straightforward in a studio?

It actually was. Surprisingly, we didn’t have any major complications while shooting. We had to find a way to strap the egg to the man, since it was heavier and bigger that we thought and Hank, the actor, couldn’t carry it, so we ended up using a rope and stapling it onto the egg. Generally, framing took a while since we wanted odd and unusual expressionist angles so we had to try a few things before we found something we felt was in tune with the rest of the shots.

Did you storyboard every detail beforehand – and were there any problems in post?

Most of it was storyboarded, but there was still room to find things as we were shooting which is always good. We had only storyboarded a shot per set, so all the close ups and extra shots were improvised. The ladder above the clouds came up after a suggestion from Ray Coates, the DP, as we were shooting and the clients didn’t have any problem in adding that into the film.

Like the shoot, the post went remarkably smoothly…

The pouring shot was a tricky one but Eilleen, the flame op from MPC, came up with a good way of making it work. There was also a lot of comp to do. We shot something like 50 objects or more from different angles and we had to make a narrow selection and find the best combination of them to add into the landscapes…

The soundtrack is very appropriate – can you tell us please how that came about?

We did a rough version in the edit. Rich Orrick, the editor, was very useful in that. We knew that we couldn’t have a conventional soundtrack or sound design and that we wanted sounds taken out of context, but that was pretty much it. It was a process of trial and error until we found the right tone.

Do you think it was your reel generally or a specific piece that appealed to the agency to choose you to direct?

Difficult to tell. Some of the things that are in the Drambuie ad were already present in previous jobs I’ve done before, especially a certain surreal vibe. I also had some Dali-esque post-made landscapes in my showreel from a commercial I did a while ago in Spain, so it could had been like “Let’s get this guy, he already has Dali-esque landscapes in his showreel”, but I don’t think it was just that…

Anything else interesting or challenging about the production?

More challenges really came from the conceptual side than the technical one: How to put together a collection of random ideas in a coherent form, how to justify those ideas to the client, how to make something that I like, and that they would like, since I was giving the rare opportunity of having freedom to generate a whole parallel reality…

Agency: Sell! Sell! Creative Director: Vic Polkinghorne TV Producer: Fiona Plumstead Prod Co: HSI London Director: Chino Moya Producer: Jeremy Goold Editing House: Work Post Editor: Richard Orrick Post House: MPC Post Producer: Chris Allen