This is a leap, or should we say a gigantic hop, away from the previous O2 commercial you made.
It’s actually more of an evolution. We all collectively put a lot of effort in a very short space of time to create the first O2 rabbit at the beginning of last year. We basically created its character and form – a wild rabbit with a ‘ naturally’ growing blue coloured coat (rather than a grey rabbit turned blue) staring out of the screen at the couch potatoes at home, guilting them to do something less boring instead.
That rabbit was in a conceptual space that then led us into a real gig environment The idea here was that everyone has their own rabbit. This time we get to see the rabbits in ‘real life’ people’s homes and then lead them to the fantastical psychedelic rabbit hole of O2 priority. And of course there are bloody hundreds and thousands of rabbits this time round.
Has it been a straight forward continuous process or did this spot bring its own particular production challenges?
The sheer number of rabbits that The Mill had to build, animate and render within the intensely tight schedule created the biggest pressures, and the team there pulled off an incredible job. We have a great team of artists and producers we work closely with that make it possible to achieve these results in such a short turn around. We had the initial rabbit from last year but the idea was that all the rabbits were individuals!
We also wanted the rabbits to look intense and have a strong screen presence and eye contact – sometimes they looked like dumb bunnies or cute bunnies so a lot of work was put into their ‘character’ ‘look’ and ‘pose’ to achieve the right balance in the opening scenes.
The great script from Pete and Bish at VCCP read like a music video and that’s what VCCP and the client wanted for this film – very different to the last one. The script set out a narrative structure that required us to shoot multiple locations and cast across London and cut it to a musical track with energy and lots of little moments of drama and tension. We had to find the cast and locations in a short amount of time while we boarded the action.
VCCP wanted to create a 2-minute film to premiere during The Brits, the client supported this which gave us a fantastic opportunity to create a stand out film. It really was as close to making a music video that you can get in advertising. We had to edit to a track and VCCP really supported us finding the right track as early on as possible. We looked at lots of options before we suggested EML Ritual by The Chemical Brothers. We’d tried the track on the first film and when we dropped it over the rough edit it just felt right. The Chemical Brothers loved the idea and agreed to do a unique edit of the track for us. We also ended up with a 2.20s online version which you can see here.
And how did you resolve those?
By working smoothly as a team from client to agency to us in production. We shot ‘days’ rather than ‘nights’ to give us more shoot days but started late each day with the interiors and carried on till late as possible each evening into night – sometimes after midnight. This gave us more shoot days within our production budget purely than shooting nights would have allowed. We used less well known locations in South London and The Olympic Park which helped us achieve bigger shots of crowds and felt fresh on screen. It was bitterly cold too.
Was everything prepped in detail – and did that include working everything out with the post artist and editor?
We write our own treatments completely so after the job is awarded we start drawing up detailed storyboards which always closely reflect the final films. These boards are shared with agency, post production, heads of departments and our assistant director so by the time we shoot everyone is aligned and focused on what we need to shoot. On this job we asked to be given more freedom around the boards we drew up to shoot more footage to build a music video style film. We shot longer takes using multiple cameras than we would in a more tightly controlled narrative idea to play out the action and give us more details and moments to use. We also cut to the actual track with our editor Ed Cheeseman at Final Cut.
We take it that all these furry animals of yours are created in CGI?
Yes. We had a stuffed rabbit painted blue as a reference. It was stuffed long before the job came along so no rabbits were harmed in the making of this film. We’ve shot live rabbits on set before and it’s very hard to get good results – you basically use a female rabbit to get the attention of the male to get it to look a certain way or hop off a certain direction. We’ll leave it to your imaginations to picture how they do it…
We’ve just followed up our RightMove ‘Life Steps’ film with two more new ones for Fold7, and there more scripts and music videos in development too. Hopefully some time to rest at Easter!
Client: o2 Priority
Title: Follow Your Rabbit
Executive Creative Director: Darren Bailes
Creative Director: Jim Capp
Creatives: Pete Bastiman & David Aylesbury
TV Producer: Becky Grove
Production Company: Outsider
Producer: John Madsen
DOP: Alex Barber
Edit: Ed Cheeseman @ Final Cut
Post Production: The Mill
Music: The Chemical Brothers