VW campaign

Posted by on Jun 25, 2013 in News, Blogs, Philip Berman

Larchmont Films were approached by Van Communications to create a series of films for a new Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles campaign they were working on. Mark, from Van Communications, was aware of our company from my time at the BBC, and was keen to work with someone who had been so heavily involved in delivering documentaries in the past.

The entire campaign focused on how Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles work in partnership with its customers. Our film documents the story of Andy, a carpet fitter, who could soon be the most famous VW van driver in the UK. The brief was to show that Andy is a man in love with his van, which comes across well in our film.

Andy was charming and very dedicated, brilliant to work with. We filmed him as he drove around in his van, where we made sure he was concentrating on driving rather than being filmed. The questions asked while in the van made for a much better interview than if we’d filmed him while just standing near the van, or at home. We wanted to capture what it was that Andy felt for his van and how proud he was of it.

The campaign pictured Andy and his van on 750 billboards around the UK, including the 27m x 18m ‘mega banner’ on the M4, the biggest billboard in Britain. It was really important that the film captured his very first  and honest reaction to seeing it as a punter would. We felt the best and most natural way to do it was by filming his reaction as he drove towards it for the first time. He was really mesmerised by the enormity of the billboard and what it meant for him. Another challenging part of the brief was trying to find a way to film the epic nature of the billboard high up next to the M4. We had a lucky break there as we were allowed to film from the Audi office, on the other side of the motorway.  And finally we weren’t sure beforehand when the banner would be lifted as it is a windy spot and it can sometimes be called off last minute if their team of abseilers deem it unsafe. One morning we were on site about 6am only to find out it had been postponed to the following day!

Larchmont Films worked as a very small but efficient team; two editors, one camera man each day, and Lu Lu who looked after the logistics, and myself. It was a four camera shoot involving a Black Magic, a Go Pro an EX305 and a C100. We’d never used a Black Magic before, as it uses huge file formats and produces very high-res material but was quite simple to use.

The banner was put up by Blow Up Media, a team of professionals who work specifically with large-banner installations. They were a brilliant bunch of people to work with and it was great to watch.

The film took, on and off, two months to complete. It involved a lot of preparation and planning, permission to get onto building sites, arranging the shoots, health and safety, and very early mornings! I always enjoy finishing a piece and knowing that our planned way of shooting paid off and everything fits together.

This is the first time I’ve worked on a transport company campaign and I enjoyed it immensely, it was a great story and involved a brilliant man. I’m really pleased with the final film and think they depict the campaign and Andy very well indeed.

Testimonial, Mark Cooper at Van Communications:

‘Larchmont Films thoroughly thought through everything from initial inception to final edit. I’d definitely recommend Larchmont to other organisations looking for great story-telling delivered through video. The final film is really touching and showcases the team’s great eye for detail’.

Watch the film: