Sanlam launches Conversations with Yourself campaign

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Imagine having a conversation with yourself at six different ages. Older YOU could tell younger YOU when you’re going to lose the dad bod… you’ll know whether getting a tattoo at 20 still seems like a good idea when you’re 80… and you may learn what constitutes a good monthly RA contribution. And younger YOU could challenge older YOU to try new things. Are you making the most of your dream retirement? Why don’t you become a 60 year old freelancer? And go skydiving at 70?

Launched this month, Sanlam’s Conversations with Yourself campaign presents seven highly engaging films centred on one simple idea: what if you could learn everything you need to know about life from yourself. The campaign and films by the King James Group focus on a range of financial necessities in a fun, relatable manner and each tell a unique story.

Moe Kekana, art director at the King James Group says, “All seven films were constructed around a different financial product. Shot like a scene from a TV series, with both entertaining banter and poignant conversations, the content is something with which we hope everyone can relate.”

“The way Sanlam does things continuously breaks the mould and pushes beyond the boundaries of a low-interest category. Uk’Shona Kwelanga – SA’s first WhatsApp drama – for example, has been copied countless times. Disrupting the category means not making the easy decisions – it means making pioneering choices instead. That was certainly the case with Conversations with Yourself, which was incredibly technically challenging to produce.”

Sonja Sanders, head of Marketing and Client Experience at Sanlam Personal Finance, says she is hopeful that people will relate to the films, “As soon as you mention retirement to a 20 year old, their eyes glaze over. It’s just too far into the future to think about. Until it’s not. This ground-breaking campaign allows for cross-pollination between every life phase. It brings together all the versions of a person – face-to-face – to ruminate over the tough and fun stuff.”

Sanders says the approach breaks the mould of an ordinary financial services conversation. “At some point, we have all wanted to fast-forward time to know how our lives will work out… whether the choices we make now are the right ones for the future… whether we’ll be happy. ‘Conversations with Yourself’ is a way to make this real. As Wealthsmiths, Sanlam wanted to present the defining nature of all decisions in a convincing yet empowering manner, which demonstrates that people have the power to financially plan a course that allows them to live their best lives. Much of this comes down to making sure there’s sufficient money to achieve the goals that really matter.”

THE EXECUTION

Kathi Jones, group executive producer at King James Group, explains some of the challenges of filming Conversations with Yourself:

  1. Choosing one actor to play all the characters, except the child:

The recurring question was ‘will this convince our audience’? Will they believe they’re seeing six versions of the same person? It’s very uncommon and complex to get one actor to play different roles in the same scene, so it rarely happens in feature films or series. Conversations always has six versions of one person, together, seated in a circle. Initially we set out to cast each role for the ages that they needed to represent, provided they all looked enough alike for us to make small prosthetic alternations. That wasn’t convincing enough when we viewed the tests. So, we took our strongest actor, Thami Buti and asked him to do a camera test of each role from ages 20 to 80. His versatility was phenomenal and we knew that he needed to play all the roles – except the ten year old.

  1. Getting the wardrobe and prosthetics right:

Wardrobe and make-up played a critical role in the characterisation and each age/role was styled in some variation of grey and denim. Thami spent between three to five hours in prosthetics and make-up every shoot day, depending on how old we were making him, adding everything from fake veins and neck sags to various wigs. We wanted to clearly convey our character’s progression – from a young child to a super-fly 20 year old, more responsible 30 year old, dad-bod-bearing 50 year old (there were giggles on-set when Thami’s ‘man boobs’ kept slipping), slimmed-down 65 year old, and wise and humorous 80 year old. Building the character in pre-production was quintessential to the process.

  1. Coordinating the filming:

The shoot was filmed in ages – so all the 20 year old scenes were shot in one day, 30 year old in another, etc. Setting each eye-line for the inter-character dialogue and ensuring that the characters’ movements all synchronised involved body doubles, green screens, hours of overnight editing and scene superimposition. It was crazily, mind-bendingly complicated, but so worth it. There’s not a moment that lacked believability for me – and I hope our audiences will share this experience.

For more information on Conversations with Yourself and to view the films, visit the Sanlam website.

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