It’s that time of the year, and Christmas is just around the corner. I’ve been very lucky, because I was invited to pitch the new Audi E Tron GT. And then film it.
I do love a good Christmas ad as any Tom, Dick or Harry does, but this one is quite special. At first, my idea was to pitch your classic Santa Claus, in his cosy, but high tech North Pole house, the odd reindeer here and there. He steps into the future by ditching his old sled for the new Audi etc etc. But, as we developed the story, it became more apparent that this wasn’t just your everyday Santa. He’s an Audi Santa. And so we embarked on creating a new take on Santa Claus. And I think we nailed it.
Berlin in lockdown was painfully boring, but Alex came with me and made the whole experience amazing. We scouted, prepped and at the same time, on down days, went to nearby towns and discovered a type of Germany I’d never seen before, alone! Potsdam, truly magnificent. Quedlinburg, which sounds as if it’s a village from Harry Potter, was beautiful. And all this during totally empty of course because of the pandemic.
We filmed in Berlin for various reasons, the first and most obvious, Covid 19. Weird times indeed. Germany is probably one of the countries that films more commercials a year than any other. Most jobs are filmed abroad, Cape Town being a favorite, because of costs and the weather too. This year, due to the pandemic, they’re all being filmed in locally and it’s crazy how in demand crews, locations, studios and equipment are. Holding on to the studio was a challenge. I love shooting there and it was a real pleasure to be able to work with local crews who are fantastic.
The job was out of THJNK Hamburg. Gerrit Zinke was the Creative head. Fantastic to work with, a true gentleman and together we sailed through the job effortlessly. Thomas was also spot on, as were all those involved. Goes without saying, a huge thanks to Audi AG, the clients were great, very pro active on getting the new Santa right and unveiling the new GT (which by the way is pretty amazing), Susanne Franz and Vanessa Tessmann, both a pleasure to work with.
Markenfilm Hamburg produced the film, Cornelius Rönz was EP. Lorenz Marcus producing it and Yannic and Ole, perfectly done too, all working in the same direction and spending the money where it should be spent. But truthfully, it was a challenge as most big jobs like this are, the budget is never enough but they manage to get was was needed in front of the camera, and I’m grateful for that.
Martin Ruhe, director of photography, was amazing to finally work with! I’ve been trying to work with him for many years now and finally grabbed him for this one. Working together with a DOP is critically important, professional chemistry is important so that we’re both working in the same direction. He had my back and understood immediately what was needed, and also nailed it!
Marco Bittner Rosser, production designer, and his team. Amazing. always calm, understanding and willing to address the constant changes needed on a job like this. Scouting the locations was a challenge since the pandemic hasn’t made things easier, and we decided to shoot in a museum which Marco converted into the Santa house.
We needed a new, elegant and charming Santa and Regina nailed it, for Santa and his assistant, the tailor fitted suits were fantastic. Ara made options for Santas beard which were good too, but in the end we decided to go natural with Hugo.
The two actors we cast in the UK, perfect. Hugo Woddis as Santa, and Lewis Reeves as his assistant worked really well together. They were great to work with and made the whole directing bit effortless and delivered alternative takes constantly. Would work with both again in a heart beat.
Here’s a random selection of stills from the forest night shoot, lunch break and the garage set.
I had the pleasure of editing this with Peer-Arne, who I’ve never worked with until now. Excellent editor, pleasantly surprised. The color correction is by Pana who I think is fenomenal as always.
Here’s the DC spot. You can see a better res one on my reel page.
Thanks to everyone.