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13th January 2015
Sky larking
Title of film: Budget Direct, Captain Risky
Director: Hamish Rothwell
Production Company: Goodoil
Hamish Rothwell is the king of special effects wackiness. here we catch up with the Goodoil director about his latest brilliant scenario

Was the brief a simple: go forth and create insane stunts ending on a genius high jump with the car?

Pretty much. Originally there were way fewer stunts and scenarios – just a very short teaser for the 30-second spots. But as we started getting into it we realised we could have so much more fun by doing as many crazy failed stunts as possible. We had an awesome stunt team and a very brave actor Noah Applebaum who ended up doing most of the stunts himself – he is a brilliant comedic and now stunt legend. Add to all this a very forward thinking client, and this is what ends up being the result.

Does you spend most of your life in a post-production house keeping an eye on the compositing? Was it shot mainly on blue screen or was there actually a lot in camera?

Yes. On this one I camped out at ALT for the post. But I really didn’t have to. They are really fantastic and were way more diligent than I could ever be because they loved the material so much. Colin, Jesse and the team did an amazing job. They really did put in crazy hours to hit the air date and all I was there for was to make timely decisions so that we wouldn’t waste time going around in circles.

A lot of material is in camera – I don’t like shooting against green unless I really have to. It makes it harder on production but I think it makes it easier for the talent to inhabit the emotions of the story. Having said that, there is a bit of post integrated in.

It doesn’t look as if it would be a straight-forward shoot. Was it?

No, it was like one of those mensa puzzles or trying to get a room of baboons to write a pithy haiku. We didn’t have a huge amount of shoot time so the locations, art department, stunts and post elements had to all happen seamlessly. Luckily there wasn’t much shouting involved. It was embarrassingly collaborative.

Was everything prepared to an exacting millimetre before the production?

Yes. But not enough to strangle the process. The stunts were very carefully worked out. If they aren’t someone is going to get hurt. For a lot of the time we had the full crew and video village carnage. But the rest we tried to keep as loose as possible. We allowed ourselves the freedom to just grab the camera – send me, Chrichton (DOP) and Noah (Captain Risky) and get some cheeky footage at real speedways and stuff like that.

Also, we only boarded the stunts and the 30-second spots. The rest we grabbed on the fly – like immediately after Noah’s first shot which was jumping off the high dive into the pool – we put the camera in handheld mode and got him to improvise some lines explaining what he was doing. He was hyped up on huge amounts of adrenalin and pulled off some of the funniest improv I’ve seen for a long while. It’s getting very rare to shoot like this for commercials because there are so many people that need to know what is going to happen – but I think there’s always a place for it if it’s right for the material.

Any nightmare scenarios?

A location that was meant to be all sundrenched dried dirt and baking sun was almost completely flooded and started sprouting pretty flowers and lush grass. It’s typical of Australia – you want lush green fields, it will be a drought – you want dry, deathly desert, it will rain and sprout beautiful flowers in an alarmingly life affirming way.

Also, one of the locations is notorious for having most of the top 10 deadliest snakes in the world. They apparently just hang out in the long grass – we never saw them. But we all played a lot of hilarious ‘snake’ gags on each other. We had portaloos, so it was fine if someone got a bit too nervous.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I have to give massive kudos to Noah Applebaum – who plays Captain Risky. He turned up and absolutely gave his utmost commitment to the project. I have no idea what he was thinking. My first conversation with him straight off the plane was… ‘and then for this shot you will be doing one armed chin ups under a helicopter’. His response was – ‘Hell Yeah. Can I do chin with no hands?’ I’m thinking he must have arrived in character… no-one is that insane.

Goodoil Films

Production Company: Goodoil Director: Hamish Rothwell Exec Producer: Sam Long DoP: Crighton Bone Editor: Mark Burnett Edit House: The Editors / Whitehouse Post Post House: Alt VFX / Colin Renshaw Music / Sound: Song Zu   Agency: 303Lowe Sydney ECD: Richard Morgan Copywriter: Sean Larkin Art Director: Adam Whitehead Head of Business Management: Tony Dunseath Business Director: Sophie O'Sullivan Head of Strategy: Jon McKie Agency Producer: Amanda Cain & Sean Ascroft   Client: Budget Direct Director of Marketing & Digital: Jonathan Kerr General Manager New Customer Acquisition: Paul Duggan Campaign Manager: Jenni Osborne