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Why We're Loving: US, directors

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Us (Chris Barrett and Luke Taylor) directed the one-take “icons” spot, by Grey London, for The Sunday Times.

Tell us about the project. We got involved at the pitching stage and loved the script. The original script featured a larger number of iconic scenes; we felt that it was important to strip it back, to allow the audience to register the icons as well as the in-camera transformations. What really helped was the collaborative process we had with Johan Leandersson and Jonathan Rands (the creatives), and Dave Monk (the creative director).

How did you choreograph the spot? We felt it was important that, at pitch stage, we tested how many icons you could fit into the spot. We decided to go to a park and act it out on a bench and film it on an iPhone. It was crude but made it clear that less was actually more.

How did you choose the cultural icons you used? The one thing that made this script so special was the way the scenes were linked. We really didn’t want our actor to have to move around. We liked the idea that it was effortless, which made the transition that bit more magical. It became a combination of which icons we could pull off but also which fitted together the best.

What were the challenges of creating the ad in one take? Our biggest was that we didn’t want to see any of the 12-man crew. It was also relying on a number of people all syncing in the exact same moment. The lighting had to transition between scenes, which had to line up with the position of the camera, which had to fit in time with the props moving in and out. The team we had were great – they really understood what we were trying to achieve.

How many rehearsals did you have to do? Our rehearsals were our takes. We started mapping out where everyone would go and then slowly changed who was moving where to avoid the camera. Bit by bit, it slowly started to all sync. We then started to increase the speed. From that point on, we kept going. On take 16, the stars aligned and everything came together in a miraculous way. We knew we had it. Of course, we kept going, though.

What was the trickiest part? It was all hard, but probably the transition from Mad Men to The Creation Of Adam. It required removing the bench and sliding in a background and an extra, plus the camera move was particularly hard.

What is your next project? We have just written our first short film and are pitching on some exciting projects we can’t talk about.

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