Volvo Breathe Free
In March this year, Stink Films began a project that was unlike anything anybody had experienced before. It was a commercial directed by Eliot Rausch for Volvo, a large international production across three countries with a team distributed across nine countries – all remote! Not unusual in the industry. True now. Except that it all happened amidst a global pandemic — and they were the first to do it.
今年3月，Stink影业开启了一项史无前例的项目。这是一部由 Eliot Rausch为沃尔沃执导的广告，而该项目的制片横跨了三个国家，团队分布于九个国家，如此大规模的国际制片项目——工作竟都是远程完成！时至今日，远程办公对业界人士来说并不是什么新鲜事。但这个项目始于新冠疫情最紧张的时期—— 而他们是第一家敢于尝试新方式的公司。
In the following six months, the team had to face unprecedented challenges to accomplish the three-minute-long film. SHP+ talked with Stink’s managing director Desmond Loh to find out about their experience and his take on what changes will linger in the industry. “It was simultaneously exciting and intense,” says Loh. “A constant and gradual discovery, and a growing understanding of a new process.” Eliot Rausch
监制Brenda(左)和 MD Desmond(右)
With an ascending emotional tone, the film portrays various types of people in the unconscious act of breathing. It urges us to cherish the air that surrounds us as it promotes a new built-in air cleaning feature in Volvo cars. It’s part of a more extensive global campaign that has been around for a few years concerning sustainable and conscious living. “The script was always relevant. Even with all the climate change issues we already faced, we took the air we breathed for granted. But COVID-19 struck. The world noticed,” Loh says.
It was a truly international endeavor. Volvo, the client, was in Sweden and China. Grey Group, the agency, between Hong Kong and Shanghai. Part of the production team was in Taiwan. The shooting took place in Norway, Denmark, and China. The styling director, Damian Huang, was in Singapore. Rausch directed from multiple screens from Los Angeles. And post-production spanned the UK, US, and China.
该项目是真真正正的“国际”大制作。客户沃尔沃，主要的办公室在瑞典和中国。而代理Grey Group则主要在香港和上海办公。一半的制片团队人在台湾。影片的摄制地点包括挪威，丹麦和中国。时装设计总监Damian Huang位于新加坡。Rausch导演通过不同的屏幕，在洛杉矶进行指导。影片的后期工作则分别由英国，美国和中国的团队成员完成。
On location in Norway 挪威
On location in Denmark 丹麦
On location in China 中国
Still, aside from the location and technical scout and some preliminary meetings, hardly anyone traveled. Online communication was crucial, as Loh explains: “We had to cut 99% of international travel. But the show had to go on, even without the physical presence of our director. It was more necessary that the teams on the ground met for discussion. They could always make calls with our director and production designer in LA.”
When the teams physically met, there was social distancing to cope with. In Scandinavia, requirements were stricter. Onset, the code only allowed a few crew members. Also, the families and couples featured in the film had to be actual families and couples, which limited the casting options. Still, the project went according to plan and with no delays. Industry experience and intuition played a significant role.
It wouldn’t be an easy script to produce, even in normal times. In Shanghai, the team had to build an artificial jiu-jitsu studio and create artificial rain for a scene at The Bund. “Eliot is a jiu-jitsu practitioner himself. He is demanding with the authenticity of the set and the cast. For the artificial rain, we had to block both ends of Dianchi Lu. The rain machine was 30 meters tall with a 150 ton-crane,” says Loh. The script also included an underwater scene in Lofoten, Norway. Kjetil Astrup, who shot all the underwater scenes in the latest James Bond film “No Time To Die”, was in charge of cinematography.
From Singapore, Damian Huang directed three other stylists on-site in China, Denmark, and Norway. They sourced everything from local tailors and shops. “It was like divide and conquer,” laughs Loh. “We used the situation to our best advantage. Damian is our regular collaborator, so we had absolute trust in his vision and taste.” He also points out that they had the same intimacy with Rausch‘s work, which eased unexpected issues that could have arisen from new partnerships in such uncommon times.
人在新加坡的Damian Huang远程指导了位于中国、丹麦和挪威的三名现场造型师。他们从当地的裁缝店和商店采购齐了所有物料。“这就像分而治之”Loh笑着说。“我们只能尽量打好手里的牌，Damian是我们的长期合作伙伴，他的品味和眼光我们绝对信得过。” 他还指出，大家对导演Rausch有着同样的亲切感，这减缓了在这一特别时期新合作可能带来的磨合与意外。
“It felt like diving into unknown territories. I think we were the first in the world to handle a production of this scale at that time when the outbreak was at its peak. [Now,] I think everyone in the industry has adjusted to the new normality,” Loh says.
He notes that the new scenario creates more opportunities to work with local talent and overcome communication barriers. But one thing is for sure, “remote shoots are here to stay,” Loh warns. “I would like to encourage all clients and agencies to explore remote shoot. It’s all possible! Pandemic and travel restrictions shouldn’t be an obstacle for international creative exchange in the industry,” he emphasizes.
Throughout the project, passion and purposeful work motivated the team, and experience controlled their anxieties. It was all worth it when they saw the results on the director’s cut. “No one was prepared for this,” says Loh. “Still, everyone took a leap of faith and worked as a team. Nothing can beat the human connection.”
DP Mattias Rudh
A storybook decorated for little girl actress 用心为小女主装扮故事书的上海大美术樱子