In May of this year I was commissioned by Cogent Elliott and Marketing Birmingham to direct a 30 second commercial for Birmingham. It was a real honour to be considered for such high profile work; having lived and worked here for 20 plus years the city is close to my heart and not being shy of jumping in at the deep end, delivering the creative looked like a serious challenge worth undertaking.
The aim of the film is to showcase Birmingham and everything it has to offer in tourism and culture in 30 seconds. The visual trick in itself has been visited by others previously to great effect but applying the technique to one city is fresh and really makes Birmingham look individual and distinctive. The ad has been broadcast as part of the ICC Champions Trophy beamed to cricket fans all over the world. The estimated reach being as high as 1 billion viewers.
With the creative set out before me I had to find ways of making the film belong to Birmingham, not just with locations, but with a vibe and a personality.
Every city has a beat and Birmingham is no stranger to inventive and clever musicians. We commissioned local composers with a brief to write something rhythmic and stylish with an international flavour. I wanted it to feature handclaps too; a human aspect that would help to conjure a spirit of unity, and a percussive feeling of global travel. Jon and Murray at Flexpicnic answered with something with its roots in Jazz, sophisticated and classy, and with a couple of hints to Birmingham’s rich multicultural backdrop.
We knew early on in production that our “face of Birmingham” would have to be sturdy enough to deal with a very demanding shoot, with late night and dawn shots it would, at times, be nothing less than grueling. I interviewed contenders to find out who would be best at “looking good on the go!” and who might be patient enough to dodge the public, make countless resets, pull cartwheels, skip meals, dance on command, brave the elements and chase pigeons.
The ad stars Chelsea Killarney of Alan Sharman Agency, who over 5 days / 60 hours filming; walked more than 7km across 43 locations, had 35 costume changes, and wore 10 different pairs of shoes. If you have any doubt of what Chelsea had to contend with take a look at the outtakes! (coming soon)
It was also important that all of those involved in the making were local talent too. With Photography headed by Ian Winstanley, and all of the crew being homegrown professionals, “This is Birmingham” was truly made by Birmingham and something we are all really proud of making.
Advertising Agency: Cogent Elliott, Birmingham, UK
Starring: Chelsea Killarney
Director: Paul Griffin
Producer: Lucy Webb
Art Director: Jason Vinciguerra
DOP: Ian Winstanley
Camera Operator: Radford Nicholls
Camera Assistant: John Palmer
Make-up / Stylist: Danni Smith
Assistant Stylist: Casey Hennessy
Casting: Alan Sharman