by James Edmondson
November 11th was the end of one journey, and the beginning of a new one. Our new brand TV commercial for Toyota aired for the first time. In late October, we had teamed up with the production company, Butter, its fiendishly talented Director, Brian Williams, and Producer, Grainne Tiernan, to embark on a 3 day shoot. These 3 days would take us from my own doorstep in Booterstown, Co. Dublin, to some breath taking parts of Ireland and all the way up to one of the country’s most northerly points.
We began shortly after dawn on the first day, just off the seafront in Booterstown. The clear and frosty morning augured a pleasant day ahead for shooting, and that it was. A suburban house was our setting for the morning and early afternoon. Its interior had been transformed from a family home into a high intensity studio. Our actors, Brian and Ray, were a delight to watch. Playing a son and his father, we saw the first spark between them in the boy’s bedroom. The son, Brian, was a burst of energy from the get go, and that came with its up and downs, but even off camera, the father, Ray, seemed to lend a helpful and almost fatherly hand of motivation and direction to the boy.
After breakfast in The Ferryman on the Liffey, which can only be described as a wonderful time warp in the midst of the ever more sleekly growing Silicon Dock, we began to gear up for our second day. Equipment vehicles, buses and rig vehicles lined Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. A Mercedes G-Class rigged with a cinematic ‘RED’ camera through a huge and complex exterior frame was to be our main piece of kit for the day. The Toyota C-HR was to be our focus. All polished up and manned by Ray, we executed several shots of the car weaving its way around the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and Facebook.
With all cameras rolling, and a drone readied for flight, it was time to set sail for the far north. Donegal awaited. Two shots were on our agenda, the Port Tunnel and the road ahead. Both were required to be accomplished in one take, to keep the convoy in motion, and by some divine miracle we managed to pull it off, to the delight of Director, Brian, and Art Director, Martin Watts, known to the world as Marty.
A long journey then took us to Glenveagh National Park. Really one didn’t need to see anymore of what Donegal had to offer, because this was it. An enormous fjord-like valley stretched four kilometres away from us. There were spectacular scenes to capture, and no better location for us to conclude our day and carry out aerial drone shots of the C-HR winding its way along a road at the water’s edge. A good day’s work.
On the final day of the shoot, we assembled at the Ards Forest Park to a slightly more disappointing morning of weather. The heavens had opened; our window of opening had been very firmly closed. But you press on. A huge trailer rig was assembled to carry the C-HR as we shot it against the backdrop of the sensational surrounding landscape. We then ventured into the dense mystical forest to capture some of the father & son’s journey on foot.
Our final location was the pick of the bunch. After a meandering route to the top of Ireland, we arrived at Fanad Lighthouse. It was to be the final destination for our characters too. The lighthouse is perched on top of a sea stack, cut away from the headland. It is bridged by a rather precarious looking driveway, with ten foot waves crashing against the base on either side.
A carefully planned set up of lighting was scattered across the adjacent headlands. This provided a beautiful natural, if slightly idealised, glow for the crew to shoot the final scene in the darkness of night. Father & son walked to the edge of the cliff, lantern in hand, and gazed up at the stars. At 9pm, lashed by the rain and the wind, the moment that Marty and Brian had been striving for finally arrived. Against both the odds and the elements, and with the last roll of the camera, there it was on the monitor. A happy birthday serenade broke out on the cliff’s edge for our DOP, Callan Green, and Brian, the Director, finally came out with the longed for phrase. “That’s a wrap.”
There is a litany of aspects that I can draw on from being a part of the crew that made this shoot seem like a walk in the park, despite the caprice of the weather. However, watching the innate rapport and interaction between our Senior Art Director, Marty, and Director, Brian, was the stand out feature for me. Their shared vision and aspiration was a pleasure to see first hand. Furthermore, witnessing this project from its concept stage all the way through to its fruition was an experience to savour. And sitting down at home with a cup of tea to watch it on air on national television really was the icing on top.