Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video A conversation with filmmaker Abigail Honor, part of Filmmaking Forum: Scene Analysis.
- Can you tell us about what the client was after with this and how you ultimately arrived at the vision that you did? - So CMS Forex is a trading company. They trade currencies, and they wanted a spot that would really set them apart from everybody else. So it's not the same old boring, boring financial campaign, which is I think why they came to us. So we thought of this crazy story, where you have all four currencies all vying, coming, when you look at what it is, it's just currencies go up and down and you buy and sell the currency and if you're clever you do it at the right time and make a lot of money.
So we decided to change it into a metaphor and we thought about the arena idea, the gladiators, and they're all actually fighting each other. So everybody has a different costume and a different look and feel depending on the country or region they're from. And what was incredibly spooky was that when we made this, it actually reflected what happened in the currency trading the few months later. It was really, really funny. So yeah, we just wanted to bring a more, we wanted to make it like a mini action film so that people would really remember the company and remember the spot.
- And then what was the planning and pre-production process for this? Because I want you to talk about the fact that you created the arena, you know, entirely in post, so how did you get all of these moving parts visually together in your mind before you actually shot it? - So, we knew that we needed this last overhead shot, where we're gonna lift up the camera. So we knew we needed a huge sound stage so we went to Silvercup. We needed a massive green screen. We only had a day and a half to shoot the whole thing, which is no time at all.
And so we needed to be really, really efficient. So we lit up the green screen and we lit the entire space where they're fighting in a very subdued, no contrast. So that we could move the camera around really quickly and we wouldn't get bogged down with that. And then we shot everything and we had this big crane that dollied all the way up. And so we did a lot of prep. Everything was story boarded for this. And we made sure that the D-P was clear and that everybody was on board from a timing perspective. And we just went shot, shot, shot, shot, shot.
Loads of rehearsals, obviously it's a lot of action in here. So we'd rehearse in our office, we have a large space so we did a lot of prep. And we did a lot of work with the swords and with the rigging. We had a couple of riggers who'd actually worked on Hollywood sets before. So we just made sure that we were efficient, everybody knew ahead of time what they were doing, and we were well-rehearsed so that when we showed up we could just get going. Doesn't mean it went off without a hitch. There's always problems and issues but at least we were ready and we managed to get it done within the day and a half we had.
- That's incredibly fast. I can't believe you did it in a day and a half. That's amazing. And you edited this, so tell us about how you were able to pull it all together in post. - Yeah, so it was green screen and we were working with then a 3D company who'd built out this whole auditorium, The Colosseum, if you like, so when I edited it, I edited the whole cut on green screen and it all came together. It was mostly kind of like trying to squeeze it in was the hardest thing because we didn't want to speed anything up and make it feel Mickey Mouse, but we wanted everything to play out.
So after I did the cut, the raw moments where we do do some ramping and we did all that with the 3D team. And then we popped on all the graphics and built it all out after the fact. This is one of the only projects where we actually got sign-off from the client for the green screen before embarking on all of the 3D and the compositing that we needed to do. And that took three months, so the 3D and all the compositing took three months to do because they're all real people in there in the background, all really cheering and everything. - So I'm curious about your audience for this. Where did it play and are you aware of their reception? - Yep, this was specific to the American market so it played across multiple business channels including Bloomberg T-V and also CNBC, channels like that.
- Very good, and then as far as your relationship with the client and sort of honing this message, you came up with this idea of the currencies fighting and all of that, can you give us just a high level description of sort of arriving what you eventually got at? - Well, I think again, one of the reasons why people come to us is because they're ready for something out of the box. They're ready to push the boundaries and get noticed. So, inherently, when we got the R-F-P, I think they anticipated we'd come up with something a little abstract and out there that would be entertaining.
So we got the job on the strength of this pitch. They liked the idea so much so it wasn't a case, luckily, of having to persuade them. And a lot of it is trust. It's winning the trust of your clients, and then taking that trust extremely seriously. I think that's the most important factor, kind of understanding that not only it's your job on the line but theirs is too. And if you want to work with them in the future, then you have to make sure that you really cherish the relationship.