Slick treatment on a low budget


Bridgestone’s new commercial is all about treading safely. It’s brought to life by Hammersmith and Elephant director Brett Wild, who jumped at the chance to take a departure from the comical performance work he’s known for and aim for a slick, emotive piece of film.

The client originally wanted to use an internationally produced commercial for its tyre brand in South Africa, but Hammersmith and Elephant performed a few tricks to give a high end polish to a very low budget.

Conceptualised by DWF Collective of Johannesburg, it’s a story about cause and effect that touches on the vital connections one makes in life to signify how important your car’s connection is with the road.

A man drives down a rain soaked street and stops to buy flowers from a roadside salesman. After driving on he suddenly has to brake hard to avoid an old cyclist but manages to stop the car in time.

Meanwhile, the flower seller heads to a cafe to buy a meal and the cyclist and driver both carry on their separate ways. As it turns out the flowers are meant for a woman and the money he spent on the flowers buys both the flower seller and his grandfather a meal – the grandfather being the very same cyclist.

One of the most challenging aspects of the shoot was requisitioning Fox Street in Johannesburg. Because of timing and budget, Wild chose to shoot without a go-ahead from the authorities.

“We started rolling at 5am and carried on through Friday rush hour until the cops shut us down at 9pm,’ says Wild. “We were at it again on Saturday and this time we had to divert a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) protest to keep our street. It required a meeting with the union leaders and some real choice diplomacy from Byron Grant but that’s what producers are for, aren’t they?’

Another budget beating aspect was the visual treatment. “We filmed on digital with a RED yet it’s got a really high film end feel, and where we’ve used a split screen, the two different scenes are actually from the same frame,’ says Wild. He admits he enjoys the challenge of matching high expectations as budgets get tighter and tighter, and Hammersmith and Elephant seem prepared to do whatever it takes to produce the goods.

By Anton Crone

screen africa magazine – january 2013


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