Critic’s Couch: 5 Things I learned from strapping our star to a high speed sofa

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By Ivan Sebastian - Executive Producer

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A misty cold racetrack in January. I’m watching the stunt set-up for a high-speed drift that will see the new Hyundai i30 N roar itself around a hairpin, just inches away from our celebrity presenter. Who is sitting patiently strapped into a sofa.

The engine thunders as the hot hatch accelerates from its starting line. There is a collective moment of stillness among the watching crew & clients. I follow the speeding car, and as it hits its mark and begins its drift, my right eye involuntarily closes as a thousand production and insurance notes flash through my mind.

The shot works as planned. Take one. We do two more, y’know, just to be sure.

Here are 5 things I learned from filming our Hyundai i30 N Critic’s Couch campaign.

 

Pick Your Best Team.

This seems simple enough advice; pick the best people to work with you. As a small independent agency, we enjoy the benefits of building a wide roster of great suppliers and partners. An essential part of production is crafting the team to the needs of the campaign. Being able to build the right squad for the job based on specialism and experience.

For the i30 N campaign, partnering with an established auto specialist (Whisper Films) allowed us to fit more into our schedule and gave us to reassurance to focus on the rest of the performance, knowing that for the precision drivers, two inches away from danger really does mean two inches away.

 

Cut To The Scene

The principle of six second storytelling is nothing new. A classic filmmaking tip is to start right in the scene, at the heart of the action. And this is readily applied to social media storytelling. We are competing for our audiences’ ever diminishing attention span, and in a timeline of a billion messages, we have no automatic right to that attention. So get to your point.

In social we see this in increasingly shorter forms; be it cut downs, bumpers or micro-trailers. This requires creative and production teams to work together to distill the core concept without losing the sense of imagination, the captivation, or the fun, and of course, still imbue it in it that holy grail of social: share-ability.

Critic’s Couch, like all of our campaigns, was planned as social-first, and they must all demonstrate that compelling, relatable realness that makes you want to watch. Often social storytelling comes to this – simple is good, can I explain it in a sentence? If not, it may not win that elusive thumb stop.

 

Embrace The Unexpected

It’s the nature of creative work that you’re never quite sure where the ideas are going to take you. (And who wants predictable?) And equally so with creative production, you’re never quite sure what it’s going take to make that idea happen. So it’s a truism that with budgets and schedules you always need to plan for what you just don’t know yet.

Even within regular costs, such as cast or location etc, there’s often something unexpected, totally left-field or inspirational that suddenly becomes essential, or helps lift the creative idea to another level.

Being able to quickly flex and accommodate these into your production usually involves some swift calculations and logistical head scratching. But it’s usually, always worth it. And so, that’s how we now come to own two beaten-up, track-side sofas that we never knew we needed!

 

Ditch The Monitor

It’s standard practice to have a comfortable area for clients to watch the shoot on a monitor – only for it to go unused. Everyone’s safety must be the prime consideration, but clients will often want – and should be – where the action is. Their product and brand knowledge is an important asset, and a conversation now can save a potential production nightmare later. It’s not always possible, but being flexible goes a long way.

 

Be Nice To Everyone And Learn Stuff

Again, a simple enough ideal. This is an immersive and fun industry to be in, working among specialists, technicians and those seasoned on-set professionals who know every inch and pixel of their trade. There is an old saying that I feel is very apt for production and producers in general; try to know one thing about everything, and everything about one thing.

And surrounded by professionals, it’s hard not to soak that up. I’m often found looking inside the toolboxes and kitbags of people on set, be they make-up crew, lighting, or props. Tools of the trade are an amazing insight into the real graft that goes into making onscreen things happen. Ours is a learning environment, so try to make the most of it, enjoy meeting talented people, and keep adding that one more known thing.

 

Watch the Hyundai i30 N Critic’s Couch”:

Track Race

Hairpin

BackSeat Driver

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