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A Voice Is All You Need: Behind the Scenes on Amazon’s Alexa Trilogy

The Influencers 104 Add to collection

The Quarry reflects on Ben Campbell and Andreas Nilsson’s award winning campaign

A Voice Is All You Need: Behind the Scenes on Amazon’s Alexa Trilogy

Biscuit Filmworks’ Amazon Alexa campaign, 'A Voice is All You Need’ directed by Andreas Nilsson and made for Droga5, is a trilogy of spots that is epic both in scale, and in the response it evokes from its audience – as demonstrated by its Silver Arrow win for the ‘UK Campaign - John Webster Award’ at this year’s British Arrows.

Like many of the creative collaborations between director Andreas Nilsson (Biscuit Filmworks) and editor Ben Campbell (The Quarry), comedy is the absolute driving force here; this time hinging on an element of anachronism that is woven through all the spots. Spanning three different genres of cinema and periods of history, ‘Pompeii’, ‘Ironing’ and ‘Opera’ are united by an extraordinarily simple yet masterfully employed device: the fish out of water. Every film - be it a crucial Baroque performance, a final deathbed declaration of love… or the complete annihilation of Pompeii - is undermined with hilarious effect by a 21st century Amazon Alexa user being transported into the scene; each one of them less concerned by the drama surrounding them than they are with, say, changing their summer playlist.

Thought up by this year’s British Arrows ‘Agency of the Year’ winner Droga5, the creative brief was ‘fantastic from the get go’ according to Ben Campbell. The funniest script, however, won’t succeed without top-tier casting — which is why, in Ben’s opinion, this particular campaign hits the mark so precisely, with all-round excellent casting and performances. “If there’s even a hint of unlike-ability with the characters”, says Ben, “then you’re struggling upstream to get an audience to respond well, which is a big problem.”

Another problem would be a lack of good material but, with Nilsson’s expertise enlisted, Ben received an abundance of engaging footage to work with. Leaving no stone unturned, Ben in some cases even used performances not ‘technically’ captured during a take. Whilst editing his personal favourite spot of the campaign, ‘Ironing’, which was “organised by increasing levels of annoyance and irritation”, Ben was able to incorporate genuine and authentic expressions from the actors as they listened to director Andreas himself.

Despite being meticulously mapped out and planned by Andreas and the creatives at Droga5, there were nevertheless issues that became apparent in the editing suite. For a number of reasons, the originally planned song for the end of ‘Opera’ had to be replaced – thanks to the ingenuity of all involved, however, Ben and the team were able to come up with a more than worthy substitute that everyone could agree elevated the spot; understandable when you watch the ad, for the comic effect of a 17th century singer attempting an Operatic rendition of the song is undeniable. This did, however, require an upheaval of the edit by Ben; meaning every cello string plucked and mouth-shape formed was finely tuned by him to accommodate the new choice. 

The spot joins the other two in the campaign as a prime example of how excellent craftwork - whether it be pitch-perfect acting, astute direction or staggeringly impressive costume and production design - can come together on an ad campaign to elevate it to something both cinematic and very, very funny.

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The Quarry, Thu, 19 May 2022 09:57:31 GMT