As a consummate acting master with an enormous screen presence, Long Walk
to Freedom star Idris Elba exemplifies the kind of determination, passion and
craft with which Distell’s Oude Meester brandy is associated in its marketing.
This is why he was a natural choice to perform in the latest commercial
promoting the brand.
Conceptualised by 140 BBDO creative agency and brought to life by Egg Films,
the advert is a toast to the success achieved by masters who have made great
accomplishments in life, as well as the wisdom which they pass down to
generations of young masters still to come. The spot was directed by Kim
Geldenhuys and produced by Jon Ronbeck while post-production was handled
by Black Ginger and headed up by VFX Supervisor Marco Raposa De Barbosa.
Michael Pearson, Group Creative Head at 140BBDO, says: “In the last
commercial, starring Jamie Foxx, we established Oude Meester as a brand with
international street cred, a master (Ben Franklin) on the bottle and oodles of
cool. In this commercial, we needed to bring this mastery back home and remind
people that this amazing brandy is made right here – and proudly so.’
Pearson added that due to his role in Long Walk to Freedom as Nelson Mandela,
Elba was truly able to connect to South African people as well as their language.
On working with the star Pearson comments: “Anyone on the streets who asked
for a photo was graciously accommodated. He was also an absolute
perfectionist on set – often wanting to see his takes and try something new.
The kind of looks and expressions we got from him, the natural acting, was his
real star quality.’
Though given some creative freedom, Pearson said they had thoroughly worked
out and crafted dialogue which they stuck to quite closely, but that while
working with Elba on set, there were some amazing unscripted moments that
they were able to capture.
Director of photography Paul Gilpin shot the advert over three nights in February
using an Arri Alexa camera with various cranes being used for lighting and
camera platforms. As filming took place in the evening extensive pre-lighting,
rigging and dressing was done to accommodate the dark environment.
Despite these challenges, both Pearson and Ronbeck agree that the biggest
hurdle they faced was chasing time, a commodity which is commonly in deficit in
commercials productions. They remark: “It was a hugely expansive shoot, with
many shots, deliveries and performances to capture every day – and the only
problem with working with an actor of Idris’ calibre is that you want to keep
watching him. So, it was a fine balance between getting him to try different
options and performances, and still fitting everything into a day.’