When I first started directing at RSA as a 24 year old, John Payne produced my first few shoots. Now he looks after RSA Asia, he’s MD. Hong Kong is fascinating, and the crews work fantastically hard. I have shot there twice, both for Cathay Pacific: Game On 2011/2012 (featured); and Always Game 2013 – ‘a prequel’ which directly references Game On! Thierry and Vince at McCann were great to work with on both occasions. Game On! won quite a few awards in Asia.
After I storyboarded 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. Very unusual to have two different D0P’s on one project!
This was filmed through TempoMedia. Alexander Schildt Exec Produced it, lovely chap, great company, and one I am proud to be 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 super silly and great. We filmed it on the Eastern coast of Majorca with Palma Pictures who were great.
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 like to compare my initial treatments to the final broadcast film, and in this case we made an additional mood film to explore a few a few tonal ideas, and pace. Its funny how close it feels 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. As an entity, I felt it was like a microcosm of the creative world which lay ahead of me at the time. I loved every day there, except for the one where the cleaners threw my work away by accident. Somehow, I saw a chance and resurrected the RCA Film Society from nothing, and began Monday Night Screenings in the Cinema there, which meant I had the keys. 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, which Tony Scott managed to see 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. I recently found my Certificate of Graduation too!! here it is… 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.
We arrived into Los Angeles straight from Tokyo and West Hollywood had such a treat in store. Livesey’s first Solo Photography Show at Paul Smith 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 up in the Engine Gallery. Loved it.
After spending much of my first year in the black and white darkroom at the RCA, I found myself going down a very colourful path in my final year, resulting in my final major which I called a Colour Calligramme, after Appolinaire’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 doco for a commercial I shot for Publicis, and a Nutmeg clip from another commercial for Pro Evo, (did I really Nutmeg Ronaldo)? 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!
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 ‘Napoleonic’ style crossing, 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, and I will ride with you”. That was Year 1. We became 5.
On day 1 before we began climbing Jake planted his head into a ditch, and I aquaplaned through some barbed wire. It was the beginning of a great adventure…
When we set off from the Jetty in Rainy Geneva (pictured), I didn’t think I was going to ride it ten times. The energy was visceral, we ran riot in the alps, and many many great things happened, including meeting my future wife.
In addition to the Alps Fireflies West runs from San Fransisco to Los Angeles. ‘Flies span the globe.
The picture of us around the table is the very night we named the Fireflies. After being caught out on Turini with no lights, the Fireflies hovered over the warm tarmac, lighting out 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 army ants being broken into pieces, here is the rough draft. Ridley didn’t go for it and asked me to think of something else. I pulled out a striking scene from the Mark Bowden book, one which stood out as encapsulating the contrast of Mogadishu and normality. I shot the piece in in LA, and instead of the film being used as a teaser it went straight into the film itself, scene for scene.
The commentary explains quite a lot about how this project came about. After my Gladiator experience I wanted to deliver a finished sequence. From a small seed of an idea and a speculative flight to Florence to film it, I found myself sitting in the New York Zeigfeld Theatre between Muhammed Ali and Anthony Hopkins at the World Premiere, The first time Lector was seen in ten years. How exciting. Ridley asked me to produce some poster illustrations too, which I enjoyed enormously.
The Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore (part of the University of Maryland Medical System) was so impressive in many ways.
I designed and had 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.
Not only do these spots demand a very pure engineering aesthetic, but I love the mathematical dilemmas that they pose as well, in the case of Dyson one has to help inform the other. The team are a joy to work with at Dyson, and always keen to find creative solutions as a team, which shows in the results. To watch the spots I have shot for them so far, please choose from these titles: Disappearing Parts; Bubbles (Japan); Dyson Ball (Japan); Versatility; Appearing Parts; Versatility Interruptus (coming out soon);
To see the Motion Control Arm plotted capture a single 30 second take, please watch the movie attached.