This is a campaign to get women off their arses and into doing sports no matter what they look like. You easily could have patronized the women with comedy but instead your stories of women and their relationships with sports are based in reality and naturalness. What specific elements did you want to capture from the outset?
As soon as I read the script it struck a chord with me. As a female director the opportunity to do something unashamedly female, not in the world of fashion or beauty felt fresh and important. I really wanted to show women with soul and balls and flaws and attitude and struggle, rather than your classic representations of ‘perfect’ women we usually see in advertising.
This is not the first time you’ve filmed athletes – the Coca Cola Olympics feature length film with Mark Ronson comes to mind. What is behind your empathy with sports people? And did your understanding of sports affect your treatment?
I love shooting sports. I was once a gymnast and then a triathlete. I grew up training. So sport is a world I feel very comfortable in. I think my understanding of sport made me want to try and capture the ‘feeling’ of doing sport rather than just watching it. For me, when you really get into sport or exercise, and when you really let go, it is the most incredible feeling. The endorphins and adrenaline kick in. I wanted to try and capture that on screen.
Thinking of the long-distance film-making projects you’ve undertaken – did shooting Sport England take you across the country over some time or was it a more intense local shoot?
Yes, it was a bit of a road trip up and down the country. Only five days, but we covered a lot of ground, it really helped the spirit of the shoot. And where possible we tried to shoot the women in their natural habitats, where they felt most comfortable.
We all long to be air brushed in real life – was there any post-production tweaking beyond colour grading?
I’d love it if we didn’t feel that we needed to be air brushed in real life to be honest. I guess that is the point of the campaign.
No, there was no post, no air brushing, just a grade.
Are you happy with the final films of the campaign – anything you would have changed with hindsight?
For the first time in my career, I’d have to say no, I wouldn’t change a thing.
You’re a director that can’t be categorized with a reel full of music videos, ads and documentaries. In all of them you reveal a keen eye for body language and characterization as in Vodafone’s Netflix, Tesco’s Haddock and Ikea for instance. (See in Related Content). How do you go about directing these performances?
I like people and how different we all are. So when I direct I try not to impose myself too much on them but instead draw from the cast’s own personalities. I like to inspire them and give them a platform to perform from their gut rather than make them into something they’re not. That approach was very important in the Sport England job.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I wanted this to be the first ad ever to show off cellulite and try to make it cool… let’s see if that happens!