When you first got the script for this Barbecues Galore work, was there anything that kind of drew you to the project?
I think half the battle is, is there a good idea in it? For this, I immediately got the premise. Then I dove into it. I found two genres I could explore, The Game of Thrones-style knightly epic and a Western. I also saw the potential for getting the visual comedy out of the script and performance comedy, which was exciting.
When bringing this to life, what did you give it that other directors might not have?
I gave it a specific genre lens. The Father’s Day spot had some knightly epic style language in it. This gave me the idea of using genre filmmaking as a link between the two spots. So I used the language of the Western for the other spot.
I worked subtle nods all the way through the production design, camera work and even the narration.
It’s got a level of international humor that translates. But at the same time, it’s very Australian with self-deprecating humor.
How much freedom did General Store and Barbecues Galore give you during the shoot?
The agency got excited when I was pitching the use of genre to them. But Barbeques Galore was a client who had not done anything in a long time. And what they had done was generally quite conservative.
There was a bit of hand-holding hands and walking very slowly through the process. If I tried to hit the client with that up front, they would not have gone with it. It was a very gradual process; by the time we got to the shoot, they had been a part of the process.
Every shoot is in some way kind of a logistical exercise as much as it is creative. That is probably truer than ever now. What were some challenges you ran into for this shoot?
It was insanely hard. The first time the cast had met was on the shoot, and it was the first time I met them as well. Usually, I would be in a room with the cast, it’s important to establish that rapport, see if you can bounce off each other, make each other laugh, and have that explosiveness. But this was the first time where any of us had been in a room together. Thankfully, it worked out. In part because I was talking to the casting director and getting their impression of the people. Quite a few of the cast had never done anything before, which is always a challenge. In some situations, it was all about following my instinct.
The other obvious thing was COVID on set. Having to keep that distance from everyone was awkward. I normally like to sit right on the DP’s shoulder, get in there with the cast, and interact with everyone closely. But now we had to keep that distance all the way through. On top of that, everyone was wearing masks so we couldn’t understand each other. That was challenging.
Was there a moment that made this shoot memorable for you?
It was pretty funny puppeteering the steak. It was extremely bizarre. But that’s the beauty of the job; it’s so ridiculous. I love making ads; you do so many crazy things and get paid for it. You have the most intense, serious conversations about silly things. The thought, time, and effort that went into that talking steak is insane. We shot VFX tests and everything, but in the end, we just went with a wire hanging from my finger. So, I was twitching my finger, trying to make this extremely expensive piece of meat talk, and it was utterly ludicrous but, at the same time, beautiful.
And finally, is there anything you also anything else you have coming up?
We just released a real passion project of mine; we’re working with some of Australia’s most incredible wildlife filmmakers and created these 8D immersive escapes. Dolphins playing in the waves, whales breaching, and it’s all in 8D audio. This new innovative technology where you put your headphones on and the audio surrounds you. We started rolling that out. I know everyone in advertising likes to typecast you, but wildlife photography is a second passion of mine.
I'm also working with Ash Atallah, and Dan Hine, the producers of all my favorite British comedies, everything from The Office to The IT Crowd, and People Just Do Nothing. I'm working on a movie that we hope to start shooting next year. Stay tuned on that.