Three toy cars, three creative directors and some necessary props – that’s pretty much all you need to come up with new ŠKODA’s commercials shot at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. The directors used their own couch, dining table or family. And a greyhound.
Here they are: Steffen Haars shot on a digital camera, Johan Kramer on an eight-millimetre film and the From Form studio used the stop-motion technique. How was the whole ŠKODA SHOT@HOME project from their point of view, how did the work go and what did they struggle with?
Most people are now trying to find a way to work from home undisturbed. Because wherever you look, distractions are there. That’s what inspired the Dutch producer to depict a father of a family, who’s continually being distracted by a small toy car, specifically a KODIAQ. ‘I was curious what it will be like to work with a small crew consisting of myself and my girlfriend. She was the one who held and focused the camera when I was acting in a shot. Other than that, I was shooting – doing so after eleven years was great and I enjoyed it a lot!’ Steffen says.
What he liked the most was how straightforward the project was. ‘I enjoyed the trust among everyone involved. Thanks to that, and to having really lots of freedom and space, which isn’t usual, all the vibes and positive energy was put directly on the screen. I hope people can feel it from the clips.’
His name is Paco. This four-legged member of Johan Kramer's – the Dutch commercial and film icon – family was the centrepiece of a story featuring a KAROQ toy car. ‘Limitations are always great for creativity. I loved that. What impressed me was that ŠKODA wanted to craft something home-made; something with a feel and a recognisable setting everyone can currently identify with. The number of people involved was also minimal compared to the usual shooting: this time, it was just me and my oldest daughter. And Paco the dog of course. We even had to make our own coffee on set – director, camera crew and catering all in one. Wonderful!’ says Kramer, admitting that he really enjoyed the shooting.
To give the film a real cinematic home-look, he decided to shoot on Super 8 film, which was used a lot in the seventies. He picked the new Ektachrome film that has vibrant colours. ‘A big challenge is that you don’t have a video playback so you can’t see what you’ve done. The film was even developed at home as well: a friend of mine created a mini-lab at home. So, it was truly a home production.’ And what was the smartest trick he used during the shoot?
‘Having enough dog snacks to keep Paco interested,’ he laughs. Johan Kramer also used the stop-motion technique: an old trick where the car moves frame by frame. That way, you can make the model climb a teddy-bear.
The studio founded by a Dutch duo Jurjen Versteeg and Ashley Govers used the above-mentioned frame-by-frame shooting technique for their clip, too. They admit to having decided to play with proportions, which is also a key element of their other work. Connecting real household items, a human hand and a toy allowed them to create a feeling of a ‘real’ car commercial. ‘It brought us back to childhood. If someone had told us not long ago that we’d be shooting a car chase for a real car manufacturer, we wouldn’t have believed at all,’ they say.
Both makers are used to working in a minimalist set and team, but admit they’ve never shot at home. They also confess that the stop-motion technique put their patience to the test as the scenes come to life bit by bit. ‘We live in a small city flat so what we struggled with the most was space. We had to plan everything carefully and work from room to room. But still, before you know it your whole house ends up filled with tripods, lights and cables – no space left for us to eat dinner,’ explains Govers and adds a story about even using one simply clever solution: ‘Doing many things all at once, we were often short of hands. At one point, Jurjen played the chasing hand, focused the camera and used his toe to tap on a wireless keyboard to shoot each frame.’
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