Buckle up for this impact

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Still from the Western Cape Government commercial

Pulling at your heart strings with ‘the first kiss’ the latest Western Cape Government’s ad gently sways you into that frame of nostalgia and longing, where you expect to remain.

What rom-com twist will reveal the marketing source behind these lovers unable to take that kiss? None. It is the Western Cape Government (WCG) slapping you on the wrist with a stern warning to never take your seat belt off. Ever. This hard hitting creation hits home and leaves its mark. An impactful advert that will linger long after it has finished airing.

Director Jason Fialkov from Egg Films was briefed by the Cape Town advertising agency Y&R. Their client: The Western Cape government. “The commercial is based on a similar concept in the UK, we were asked to adapt this for the local market. The agency wanted it to be highly emotive and have more of a build prior to the climax of the commercial,” says Fialkov. He said the original commercial had huge success in reducing road fatalities in the UK, and he was advised to stick to the same structure. “However we were able to add more emotive scenes through compelling performances.”

The impact is clear: “Everyone driving or being driven in a vehicle should ensure that they are buckled up. Although you may think your choice affects only you, this commercial shows how in fact you will cause damage to others in the vehicle by not wearing your seat-belt.”

Casting was taken care of by Kayos Casting with the simple goal of finding authentic, believable characters that the audience would fall in love with. Top of their agenda was the chemistry between the two leads, ensuring that it was natural and endearing. Fialkov wanted it to come across as a love story and he succeeded in doing so. “The important thing is that the visuals are beautiful and cinematic while keeping a sense of authenticity,” he says.

For the crash sequence slow motion shots Fialkov used the Phantom. “We chose this as it goes up to a frame rate of 500fps. These shots add a sense of drama and emphasise the points of damage caused by our lead’s failure to buckle up,” he says.

“We built a gimbal rig, which allowed us to ‘tip’ the car to a 90-degree angle both forwards and backwards, allowing for the movement of the cast to feel more real and to accommodate the sense of loss of gravity. The rest of the sequences were shot on an Arri Alexa,” Fialkov confirms.

The blood was created by a professional make-up artist using specialist substances for the wounds and blood, and aiding in the overall impression of pain left in place of the original longing created by the lighting.

The WCG buckle up commercial was shot over three days between 19 and 22 February 2016. All the interior car sequences were shot in studio against a green screen. The party was shot in a house in the Bo-Kaap and the end sequence was filmed on New Market Street in Woodstock.

Key crew members who worked on this production include Willie Nel as DOP, Gideon van Schoor as stunt co-ordinator, Kobus Verhoef on rigs, Shaun Broude as editor and Wicked Pixels on VFX.

“Like its UK counterpart,” says Fialkov. “We hope this TV commercial will significantly reduce the amount of fatalities on the road caused by people not wearing their seat-belts.” It certainly gets the message across. Time will tell if it is as successful as the first.

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Cera-Jane Catton
Cera-Jane Catton is a writer and journalist with years of experience in community newspapers, blogging and freelance journalism. She has worked in a cache of capacities, often finding herself behind or in front of the cameras, intentionally and less so. She has been a stunt double in two Bollywood movies, has worked in various capacities on a number of natural history documentaries, and other international productions shot in South Africa. Cera is a former Screen Africa journalist.

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