How did you get involved in the project?

I was connected with Johannes Leonardo through BlinkInk, they’d seen some of my work and wanted to bring a similar vibe to Ore-Ida. 

I’m so grateful they did, it’s been a wild ride!

The film is unique in its imaginative cast of characters and the methods in which you create them. Were the elements in place when you initially read the script, or did you bring a lot in with the pitch?

I was lucky; the initial deck had lots of great ideas in it, so we were already off to a cracking start. 

The main thing I changed was the song. Music is such a big part of my process so I wrote three or four different tracks, showed them to the guys at JL and we honed in on a favourite. 

I pitched the ad as golden age Hollywood craft blended with contemporary camerawork and characters.

With my family at BlinkInk we also brainstormed ways to fit as many gags and ideas into the song as possible. 

In my development of the script, the main focus was character; how could we make the creatures and people who were singing the song as unique as possible, while also reinforcing the lyrics.

What were the initial aspects you set about getting right? What did the spot hinge on?

I pitched the ad as golden age Hollywood craft blended with contemporary camerawork and characters. That sentence was kind of our stylistic north star throughout the process. 

I think a lot of the spot's humour came from the weirdness of the crafted techniques we were using, so all the practical effects we used needed to be polished enough to feel high-end, while still retaining that charm. 

It was a delicate balance that we had to keep reassessing all the way through.

Ore-Ida – Deliciously Predictable

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Can you talk a little about the development of the prosthetics? What was the process, from design to shoot?

I love how characterful and tactile prosthetics can feel; there was no way I was touching CGI for this! We started with lots of 2D character designs, just to capture the essence and personality of our cast. Then we did more detailed 3D concepts for the characters that needed prosthetics, which our prosthetics artists then used to build moulds that got filled with silicon and painted. 

The prosthetics guys we worked with were absolute wizards and our actors were also very patient; for our tree, sun and moon characters, it was a good few hours of make-up before shooting.

You opted for old-school matte paintings to form the backdrop. Why did you make that decision, and what do you feel it adds?

You may have guessed by now, but I will forever be an advocate for doing as much as possible in-camera. For me, you just can’t beat it. 

In this case though, giant painted backdrops also felt like the perfect way to tie together the aesthetic of our world. They’re so playful and beautiful, while really throwing into question what is and isn’t real. It was a real challenge making them work though, we had to plan all our camera work in advance so the perspective of each painting matched up with the angle and lens that we shot on. 

There was no way I was touching CGI for this!

Obviously, they’re also massive, so it took ages to paint them too. 

Full creds to the production design team, they turned out even better than I'd hoped.

To further complicate matters, you threw in a bit of 2D animation to interact with your cast. What was the process behind that section?

The 2D animation was one of the first ideas I had for this spot, it's so synonymous with those classic Disney movies. For the smaller characters that we just couldn’t do in camera, it felt like a much more charming and fun solution. 

Peppering more characters throughout was initially just a way to make the language feel consistent, but in the end, it really completed the look of the film I think. We animated some of the simpler characters before the shoot, then animated the more complex characters over the footage. 

After clean up, colour and comp, we scanned the final film onto 35mm film, which really helped to blend the 2D animated characters into our world.

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How was the shoot itself? Did you run into any unforeseen issues?

This was the biggest shoot I’ve done by quite some way, and the prospect of working with a crew of nearly 100 people felt quite daunting. Luckily, the whole crew were amazing, and, generally, things went pretty smoothly. 

That being said, working with a four-year-old was a new challenge for me. The little girl we had was so good, but of course, we had to get her up in wires for the throw-and-catch scene. That’s full on at any age! 

Not only that but the whole scene had to be in time with music. We could have easily spent a whole morning on that but young talent can only work for very short periods of time. 

In the end though she smashed it. Never underestimate the power of a butterfly stuck to the camera!

What was the most challenging aspect of the whole process?

Readability for sure. We had so many ideas and crazy visuals we wanted to pack into this spot, so leading the audiences through all these wacky scenes in a way that didn’t feel like an attack on the senses was the biggest challenge for me. 

We had so many ideas and crazy visuals we wanted to pack into this spot, so leading the audiences through all these wacky scenes in a way that didn’t feel like an attack on the senses was the biggest challenge for me. 

Between the music and the continuous camera move, we only had so much wiggle room in the edit when controlling the pacing. We shot at 50fps so we could retime anything we needed to. Our amazing comp team really worked wonders.

You had a hand in the creation of the soundtrack, and your breakthrough film Heart Failure is essentially a musical. How important is music to your creative process?

I’ve been writing and playing music way longer than I’ve been making films, so it’s always been a huge part of my process. It really helps me to visualise tone, pacing, and even how I want to cut and shoot each scene. For a proper musical film like Heart Failure or Ore-Ida, I’ll write the rough track before I even write the script. That’s my way in. 

Then, once I can hear the film, every stage of the process will be guided by that rough track.

At the very end, we’ll re-produce the track from the ground up almost like we’re scoring the film. That really bakes the two together.

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You’re still fairly new to this ad game. Were there any moments where you thought you might have bitten off more than you can chew? How did you get over those?

It was a hugely daunting project, I’ll be honest, but I’ve been surrounded by so many amazing and hugely experienced people all the way through. 

My awesome producer Rebecca Little, the team at Blink, the creatives at JL, and all the cast and crew have shown me so much wisdom and patience. 

It was a hugely daunting project.

Everyone has really encouraged me to trust my instincts and pushed me to make something properly unique. 

I hope they are all as proud of it as I am.

What’s up next for you?

I’m on the lookout for some music videos next I think. I’ve never done one and it feels like a great opportunity to collaborate with some amazing music talent. 

Who knows, though. I’m open-minded. 

I think at this stage of my career, I just want to surprise people with what I do and not be driven by money or big names. 

My main hope is that when people watch the next thing I make, they’ll think something along the lines of ‘holy shit! I wasn’t expecting that!’