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21st April 2022
High Jinks
Title of film: NIKE JUKU Ft. [Woo! Go!] by Atarashii Gakkou
Director: Mackenzie Sheppard
Production Company: Agency: Wieden Kennedy Tokyo. Production: AOI Pro
Nike Juku brings together what director Mackenzie Sheppard is really good at - surreal stories with a good mix of crazy in-camera effects and live action. He lets fly this time with a W+K specially written track, Woo Go, for Japanese girl group Atarashii Gakkou

 

The film is unmistakably Japanese in its style and spirit. Where does your intuitive understanding of Japanese culture come from?  

Thanks! Yeah there’s definitely a lot happening in this one that was very satisfying for me to create and re-experience when I watch it back again. I’m always looking to add a touch of tangible magic to anything I’m making. Real and there, but somehow lifted into a different space that opens up the imagination. To me that’s what filmmaking is all about—getting to show things that you just can’t do in reality. Escapism.

I was born in England and moved to Japan when I was a little boy, so I’ve spent most of my life in Japan. Even though I’m Canadian. Despite living here for so long, there’s always more I didn’t know about Japan. Kind of like any place you live in for a long time. Projects like this with a strong message and idea help me re-explore aspects of a society and also pop culture that might have been missed before.

What’s this music video about?

[Woo! Go!] by Atarashii Gakkou  is a music video made for Nike by Wieden Kennedy Tokyo to launch NIKE JUKU,  a new program by Nike to improve the physical, emotional and mental health of students in Japan, who are under so much pressure to perform that they notoriously attend cram schools (“juku”). 

Who wrote the song?

The song is an original song made by the creatives at WK Tokyo and Atarashii Gakkou. (For those who don’t know Atarashii Gakkou is an up-and-coming internet sensation pop group from Japan, but has recently gained fame overseas.)

It was a delight to come into a project that already had a banging track in the works and it made it so easy to begin to visualize what it was we were going to do.

 

Do tell us a bit more about the creative process

The creative team Curro (creative director), and senior creatives/copywriters Nedal and Yumiko were a dream team to work with and it gave me a lot of freedom to explore the visuals as they continually dialed in the song. We also had some amazing art directors Kaz and Akane designing a lot of the Nike Juku signage which looked awesome. 

Atarrashii Gakkou was also a dream team to work with. They are endlessly inventive and always welcomed the weirdness of the whole approach. 

 

 

How did you write the script?

WK brought me in to help treat/write the video as the song was partly done. And I worked closely with them throughout. 

Before we had the actual track, however, I wrote a pass based on another track of Atarashii Gakkou that had a similar rebellious/dance-y beat, and shot a 4 minute crazy film of me and my friends (Kai and Nozomi) in a classroom acting out what the story could be. 

We dressed up in schoolgirl uniforms…haha…put on some wigs, and pretended to be Atarashii Gakkou and a bunch of students struggling to stay awake studying. 

A lot of the ideas for the final script/film were born in that crazy-fun 45min session. Things like the sinking paper quicksand scene, were all spontaneously thought up on the spot as we tried out a bunch of ideas on the phone. 

The  video of us in schoolgirl uniforms was intended just for “internal” viewing…but turns out the band, the team at Nike, all saw it and loved the weirdness of it. Haha. So that’s how we moved onto the next phase and came officially on board. 

 

What was the next phase?

We really wanted to push to make a fully complete film and not a halfway music video commercial. It’s kind of rare in the commercial world that things would go so far in that direction, and it shows a lot of courage to just make something that is entertaining while still holding the core message. 

I then began boarding the whole thing. And even shot a 2nd more dialed in previz on my phone again of me dancing around the classroom. You can see that one in some of the gifs in this article. 

 

What were the memorable moments of the shoot?

I think for me the most memorable moments were the practical effects. We were never going to have time for ANY vfx, so we committed to doing everything practically. 

The fire was done safely and practically using a custom solution that evaporated within two seconds of being lit. So what you see in the film is 100% real. 

The sinking floor was another effect that we built a fake ceiling and floor within the same building we were shooting in. 

On top of that, it was just working with Atarashii Gakkou. They do all their own choreography, so they can re-choreograph easily on the spot and know how the camera sees things instinctively. We were shooting three long night shoots with 50 extras in a very small building. They have a lot of energy on set and always wanted to make things as cool as possible. 

 

What equipment did you use?

I worked with DOP Mikul Eriksson, and we shot this all on Sony Venice K35s, and my Komodo with a 9mm lens. 

I operated most of it myself as I really wanted to be able to give direction in the moment to the actors as well as just experience the moments up close rather than in a monitor. 

That was the most rewarding part actually—just being hands on with this whole process. It started as an iphone test film, and ended as a more cinematic/dramatic/funny version of that same mack-handheld-feel. It needed to be a little rough around the edges so that we didn’t get into the tropey music video world. 

What did you do for lighting?

Mikul did an amazing job kitting out the whole building with wireless fluorescent LED lights that we could adjust wirelessly. We wanted the juku to have a lived in—slightly uncomfortable vibe at the start, that could flicker into an after hours feel as soon as the girls showed up in the space. 

There was also integration with art dept head Masami-san, who built a very convincing juku-cram-school world that no one ever questioned! 

 

Were there scenes you shot that didn’t make the cut?

Yeah we originally had a rooftop dancing number but it ended up being one of those big set pieces that just didn’t suit the vibe of the rest of the film. There was something about keeping it all crammed within the cram school that felt more true to the story—proving that you can move, refresh, and learn better no matter the size of the space you are in. 

What’s next?

I’m looking forward to digging into some totally different projects now and continuing to experiment as much as I can. This was one of the most memorable projects I’ve been on so far!

 

@mackshepp

Mackenzie Sheppard website

Credits

Nike Juku

CLIENT Nike Japan
PROJECT NAME ‘NIKE JUKU’
LAUNCH DATE 04/15/2022
URL Welcome Film

https://youtu.be/13p9p7-Ptm8

Study Break

https://youtu.be/8pEC4WSKxkg

https://youtu.be/8pEC4WSKxkg

https://youtu.be/EaQR9skEYf0

https://youtu.be/XvAMwJmIb1Y

https://youtu.be/RT1RXbzQ13k

WIEDEN+KENNEDY TOKYO @wktokyo
Creative Director Curro de la Villa (クーロ・デ・ラ・ヴィラ) @currodlv
Senior Copywriter Nedal Ahmed (ネダル・アハメド) @nedallll

Yumiko Ota (太田祐美子) @yuninota

Senior Art Director Kazuhi Yoshikawa (吉川一陽) @kazuhi_yoshikawa
Lead Producer Kosuke Sasaki (佐々木洸介) @kosukelawrence
Account Director Jordan Cappadocia (ジョーダン・カパドーシャ) @jordancap
Account Supervisor  Chelsea Hayashi (ハヤシ・チェルシー) @chelseamiwa

Kaede Ose (大瀬楓) @kadesyrup

Account Executive Ryu Kaida (海田隆) @ryukaida727
Producers Ty Demura (出村太) @tydemura

Yoko Onodera (小野寺陽子) @choco2910

Comms Planning Director Justin Lam (ジャスティン・ラム) @justinclam
Comms Planner Joanna Fukae (深江ジョアナ) @joyofu
Strategic Planning Director Thijs van de Wouw (タイス・ヴォン・デ・ウォ) @thijs.vandewouw
Strategic Planner Rina Deguchi (出口莉奈) @rinadagucci
Studio Designer Akane Yasuda (安田茜) @akaa.ne

Shotaro Tomiyama(富山庄太郎)

Studio Manager Aiwei Ichikawa (市川愛維) 
Agency Editor Vinod Vijayasankaran (ヴィジャヤサンカラン ヴィノド) @videovinod
PR Midori Sugama (菅間碧) @midorisugama
Translator Mako Tomita (富田万木子)
Executive Creative Director Scott Dungate (スコット・ダンゲート) @scotty_fingers
Managing Director Yosuke Suzuki (鈴木洋介) @mrnobody8695
WELCOME FILM PRODUCTION
PRODUCTION COMPANY AOI Pro.
Director Mackenzie Sheppard (マッケンジー・シェパード) @mackshepp
Producer Daisuke Misu(三須大輔)@misu_da
Director of Photography Mikul Eriksson(マイケル・エリクソン) @_mikul
Line Producer Anna Liu(アンナ・リュウ)/ Sumire Matsumura(松村すみれ)
Production Manager Kazuki Omi(近江和希)/ Kanako Sato (佐藤果南子)
Assistant Director Hideaki Jimbo(神保英昭)/ Kai Hoshino Sandy (サンデイー・ホシノ・カイ)
Production Designer Masami Tanaka(田中 真紗美)@masamit0125
Casting Director (for Atarashii Gakko!) Shohei Ueno (上野昇平) @shohey02
Casting Director Mai Ikeda(池田舞)/Misaki Matsui(松井美咲)/Rikiya Takano(髙野力哉)
Lighting Director Arata Ijichi(伊地知新)
Stylist YOPPY(よっぴー)@yoppy0123456789
Hair & Make up PHOEBE(フィービー@feebz_
Choreographer Nozomi de Lencquesaing (ド・ランクザン・望) @nozominski
STUDY BREAK  PRODUCTION
PRODUCTION COMPANY AOI Pro.
Director ZUMI(中角壮一)@zoomin.graph
Producer Daisuke Misu(三須大輔)@misu_da
Production Manager  Kai Tsuyuguchi(露口 凱)@kai_0425 /Yurika Yamada (山田 百合佳)
Director of Photography Shun Murakami(村上 俊)@shun_murakami_
Casting Director  Mai Ikeda(池田 舞)
Lighting Director Yamato Watanabe(渡邉 大和)@yamato0326_
Wardrobe | Costume | Styling YOPPY(よっぴー)@yoppy0123456789
Hair & Make up PHOEBE(フィービー@feebz_
Production Design  Masami Tanaka(田中 真紗美)@masamit0125
POST  PRODUCTION
Editor Sachi Sasaki @ssachi0528
Assistant editor Tomonori Watanabe @_tomostudio
Sound Designer  Mike Regan (マイク・リーガン)  @mikeregannoise
Sound Mixer yoshizaki.masaaki(吉崎 雅章)/Hiroki.Okumura(奥村 宏貴)
Colorist Mikey Rossiter (マイキー・ロシター) @mikolour /  Haruka.Okutsu(奥津春香)
Film Transfer Metropolis Post (メトロポリスポスト)
Compositor    Murata Chitoshi(村田 千登志)/ Yamaguchi Sakiyo(山口 紗清)
FX Artist Naomi Hayashi(林 直美)
Animation Takashi Ohashi (大橋史)  @ohashitakashi
STILL  PRODUCTION
Photographer Masumi Ishida (石田真澄)@8msmsm8
Assistant Photographer Ryuji Tamaki (玉城竜次)
Retoucher Takuya Tsugane (津金 卓也) 
STUDY BREAK – LA TEAM
Production Company Couscous @couscous
Executive Producer Bear Damen @beardamen
Producer Salim El Arja
1st AD Kat Nguyen @katnguyenfilm
Line Producer Po-Wei Su @poweisub
Production Accountant Neil Engelman
Locations Manager Tom Macdonnald
DoP Logan Triplett @logan_triplett
1st AC Mike Lemnitzer @hellyeamike
2nd AC/Loader Vinnie Bredemus @vinniebredemus
Key Grip Shun Goldin
Grip Oscar Matute
Audio Mixer Jeremy Emery @jeremyemery
Medic / CCO Chris Serafin
Driver PA Alessandro Sassi
Processing/Scan Fotokem @fotokem_la
Dailies Producer David Boito
TIKTOK FILTERS
Illustrator Audra Furuichi(古市オードラ )@kyubikitsy