I loved shooting these films for Cathay Pacific. Three night shoots – air side – at Hong Kong International Airport. The screenings went well. I remember playing air guitar on Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town when I was 7 or 8yrs old, with a wooden McEnroe tennis racket.
After storyboarding this short film in Paris with Sylvain Despretz over a long weekend, John Mathieson came out to light the film. We shot day for night in the Paris Opera House. Some of the Couture dresses had bodyguards. The DVD of the film was circulated with the 5th Anniversary of Russian Vogue, and stills were scanned directly from the 35mm negative to be used as an 18 page spread in Vogue – See Publications.
There were two scripts for Right Guard, featuring Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Bayern Munich Player and German International.
They were both lots of fun, but the most fun was Racer – where Basti is driven at high speed to a Gala event by a girlfriend – she puts his nerves through the ringer, but he doesn’t perspire at all…For the G-Force Shot we wanted to get a whoosy reaction from Basti, so the Production Designers built a centrifugal Rig where we mounted the Audi R8 Seat, Basti then climbed aboard. He enjoyed the last shot of the day – see clip
We shot the car interior scenes in a Munich Studio for Basti’s convenience, and the exteriors were filmed on Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town, South Africa.
We had to anticipate the Cape Town light in advance, Ben Davis lit the interior car scenes with Basti in Munich but unavailable in January due to feature film commitments. Jan Rhichter Friis cleverly matched the scenes in Cape Town (most unusual to work with two DOP’s during one project)
This was filmed through TempoMedia and Alexander Schildt, whom I am associated with now.
The idea of the guy calculating his path to keep the pint of Fosters cool in the shadow across a hot Australian beach was great. We filmed it in Majorca with Palma Pictures.
After holding lots of auditions at Pineapple Studios – which worked well to practically test our actors – I was keen to find a guy who could do his own stunts, rather than crafting stunt doubles in there. We finally cast an ex-gymnast called John who had lost his shape a little, but was capable of pulling off some incredible moves. He was so enthusiastic in rehearsals on the beach a few days before the shoot, pushing the possibilities.
I often review my initial treatments to the final broadcast film. In this case we made an additional mood film which was reassuringly close to the final film.
I left school at 16 and went to Art School in Blackburn, Lancashire. After 2 years, I was accepted to study a HND in Taunton, Somerset. The head of the course recommended I apply to the Royal College of Art for a MA, so I did. I never touched a computer (during the 2yrs) at the RCA, instead I focussed on spending as much time as I could in as many different departments. It felt like it was like a microcosm of the creative industry. I enjoyed most days except for the one where the cleaners threw away my work thinking it was rubbish. I began Monday Night Screenings in the Cinema there, which meant I had the keys to the projection theatre. I hired the film prints from the distributors, spliced the rolls together and threaded them onto the projectors. I used to experiment too, running my own films through the projectors, which is how I developed my first style. Tony Scott managed to see this and commissioned me to make a 15 minute wraparound sequence for The Hunger. Here are a few sketch books and pieces of work I did around that time, including ‘The Mighty Lists’, which helped me to pass the entrance examinations to the RCA. Personal highlights are life affirming life drawing classes held by the late Eduardo Paolozzi, visiting lecturer Brian Eno spellbinding us all, meeting new friends in the art bar, and cultural exchanges with other international art schools, of which there were a few.
Livesey’s first Solo Photography Show at Paul Smith on Melrose Avenue in LA was really well received and all the big prints sold out, the proceeds going directly to Leuka through the Paul Smith card machine! There were many highlights, but one of the best was Auctioneer Bryan Farhy saying he was inspired to properly establish Fireflies West and look what happened from there! From LA we moved the show to New York on Broadway, then finally back to London in the Engine Gallery. Loved it.
The first year of my MA was pretty much spent in the black and white darkroom at the RCA, I had to be coaxed out of there to begin working in colour. My research into colour led me to develop The Moving Colour Calligramme, so named after Apolinaire’s pioneering lithographs of 1918. Paul Smith used my evolving technique in 1997, for a print campaign which won a D&AD Silver for Manipulated Imagery. For many years I tried to figure out how to get it moving – which resulted in the Nike piece – very much a CMYK print look on white. The experimentation continued further into RGB for a 007 test, featured here. I love where this can go, keen to welcome new projects, it has many commercial and artistic possibilities.
Here is a Making Of for a commercial I shot for Publicis, and a Nutmeg clip from another commercial for Pro Evo. I loved playing football as a young boy, and made the schoolboy finals at Ewood Park twice, but nutmegging Ronaldo was definitely the highlight of my playing career so far!
Throughout my career at RSA I have always enjoyed filming many sporting talents from Messi to Vettel (F1), Matt Ryan (NFL) to Drogba, and thrive on the challenge of getting the best out of them.
The Fireflies, a wonderful bright and busy bunch who inspire lives. Besides my children’s this is the energy I am most proud of being a part of creating.
In 2000, a fellow RSA Director Adrian Moat and myself wanted to ride our bikes to The Cannes Lions Festival from Lake Geneva, but commitments got in the way. Being keen amateur cyclists in our teens we promised ourselves to ride the following year regardless. We mentioned the idea to Adrian Harrison, who was MD of RSA Films London at the time, “we’d love to ride for a charity…” without a moment of hesitation Adrian immediately picked up the phone to Sandy Watson, “Adrian & Nick are going to ride to Cannes, would you like them to ride for Leuka?” The deal was done. Then Tim Page came on board, from Y&R, and before we knew it Jake Scott joined us. We were four, it was May 2001.
Both of us poured over some maps from Stanfords and plotted a simple ‘Route Napoleon’, but we needed more incisive guidance through the mountains. A buddy from Lancashire, Chris Haworth, who was living in Val D’Isere said “I can get you over the Alps, I’ll ride with you”. That was Year 1. We became 5.
That day leaving the jetty in rainy Geneva (pictured), we only figured we would ride over the alps once. It was the beginning of a great adventure, the energy was visceral, we ran riot in the alps, and many many great things happened over the next ten years riding the alps, including meeting my future wife.
In addition to the Alps, Fireflies West runs from San Fransisco to Los Angeles, which I rode in 2014. Fireflies New Zealand began in 2015.
The picture of us around the table is the very night we named the Fireflies 2003. After being caught out in the dark on Turini with no lights, the Fireflies hovered over the warm tarmac, lighting our descent.
After Hannibal, Ridley Scott went straight onto Black Hawk Down. He asked me to think of a teaser film to push out while the film was in production, I worked on some storyboards with Doug Braithwaite and flew to LA to present them to Ridley. My concept was to film a metaphor of the film, a macro observation of a pure symmetry of soldier ants being dispersed. Ridley didn’t think it was right and asked me to think of something else that weekend. I pulled out a striking scene from the Mark Bowden book, one which stood out as encapsulating the contrast of Mogadishu and normality. I filmed it the following week in LA, and unusually, instead of the film being used as a teaser it went straight into the film itself, scene for scene.
Ridley Scott had no idea I was making this. I got it together as a test, with the idea of re-filming it if he liked it for the film. Instead it was used as is. From a small seed of an idea and a speculative flight to Florence , I found myself sitting in the New York Zeigfeld Theatre between Muhammed Ali and Anthony Hopkins at the World Premiere, This was the first time Lector’s face had been seen in ten years – How exciting. Ridley asked me to produce some poster illustrations too, which I really loved doing. This was a super exciting project, it came from nothing and seemed to win lots of awards.
RSA USA made a series of commercials for BofA and I directed three of those films. One in Baltimore, the other two were shot in Chicago & Washington DC.
The Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore (part of the University of Maryland Medical System) was so impressive in many ways.
I designed and screen printed these five paintings based upon the red line which directs you to the Shock Trauma Unit. The paintings feature in the commercials. The staff were really friendly and asked to keep the paintings for the unit afterwards which was such an honour.