Director Speaks Out on Controversial Duchovny Ad
After a new Russian beer ad went viral this week, its director, Michael Lockshin, talks to shots about the project.
After attracting attention in the Russian press and political arena this week, a new beer ad for Siberian Crown featuring actor David Duchovny has notched over two million views online.
Featuring the star in various guises so as to celebrate the nation’s culture in conjunction with Duchovny’s own heritage [his family emigrated from Ukraine], the commercial plays out at two-and-a-half-minutes and has caused split reaction on social networking sites in addition to receiving backing from opposing Russian leaders on Twitter.
However, in wake of all the attention, Duchovny himself has even spoken out on showbiz website TMZ to say that the ad is not intended to endorse or support any political movement and the commercial’s director, Michael Lockshin reinforces the feeling, by confirming that “Duchovny’s comment is basically the same as ours: The story is not political in any way.”
“We totally avoided any themes or references to politics or government or state in the script... The script has a play with Russian culture codes, with a touch of humour and irony,” the director continues. “Most non-Russians probably miss a lot of the cultural references, which get lost in translation, and it seems a political misunderstanding comes from this as well. The spot was actually made by a multi-national team of different political views, and quite a few Ukrainians.”
The commercial wasn’t conceived or commissioned by an agency and Lockshin goes on to reveal that he himself developed the idea, alongside co-creative Dmitry Marusov, after being approached by the client at an early stage.
But why would they decide to cast a US-based celebrity and not one more closer to home? “David Duchovny is actually immensely popular in Russia and is a household name. Also, what was nice as an extra bonus for the script is that his name means ‘soulful’ in Russian.”
Duchovny’s heritage stretches to Kiev and his family moved to the US from the city before the 1917 Revolution. But the actor also has Scottish, Polish, and of course, American roots, the latter of which is addressed in the commercial.
Since being released online at the end of last week, the ad has been widely viewed across the globe garnering some notable reactions:
Duchovny under fire for Russia beer ad http://t.co/orRCz5iIqZ— CNN International (@cnni_headlines) July 29, 2014
David Duchovny Stars in Russian Nostalgic/Nationalist Beer Ad http://t.co/Exc4QeH8nd— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) July 28, 2014
However Lockshin says that in Russia, the it has been wholeheartedly supported, even in the political arena.
“The spot was reposted, basically, by all political sides; by the pro-western, liberals and anti-government parties as well. So in Russia, the advert universally seems to have worked,” he explains.
“Also, to understand how far wrong some of the media is for finding propaganda in the film, the song that Duchovny sings [in the ad] as an 80s rock star is Mashina Vremeni’s famous Povorot (symbolic in its own way for Perestoika) and the leader of this band (Andrey Makarevich) is outspokenly opposed to the government... But it’s a great song which everyone knows and is funny for Duchovny to sing – that’s all that mattered to us. “
In the end, whether or not you believe the spot to be linked to wider issues, one thing that can’t be denied is that it is a good piece of advertising. Asked whether all the press and conversation surrounding the spot could take away from the ad as a creative piece of work, Lockshin concludes:
“Of course we would prefer for the film to just be seen as a successful advertising case, which is actually more about bringing cultures together and about moving the discourse of national identity, which is very present in Russian society at the moment, away from politics and into more human territory. Again, there are loads of reposts all over the world, and it’s hopefully because it’s just a fun ad.”
Above: DOP Sergey Trofimov, David Duchovny and director Michael Lockshin