In this trio of spots for Squarespace, Biscuit Filmworks director Andreas Nilsson has taken entrepreneurship to twisted, strange new heights in a way that we are extremely on board with.
Created in-house at Squarespace, the campaign flips the brand name into a verb as characters tell their counterparts to 'Squarespace it' with regards to their bright new idea. Those ideas for each spot. In Mime, our pick of what is an extremely good bunch, two mime artists on stage discuss the challenges of keeping up with their performance schedule. The other two tout the invention of opera-themed bars of soap (aka soap opera) and thermal chess (which takes place fully clothed in a sauna. These are all very simplistic explanations for what are three triumphantly silly ads. The only way to truly enjoy them is to watch them, which you can do below. What's more, LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Andreas to find out more about the process behind directing them.
LBB> Andreas, possibly a silly question but one to get things going! What caught your eye about this project when you received the script?
Andreas> I’ve worked with Squarespace before and I like them! I find it to be a really collaborative and transparent process with them and they always do great work! They know how to make good ads by allowing things to evolve while still always keeping a close eye on the core idea.
LBB> At what kind of stage was the project in when you did get involved? Were you able to help shape the creative at all?
Andreas> The brief had a clear premise and they had written a lot of great outlines for different scripts. I took my favourite ones and reworked them slightly so they worked in my brain.
LBB> The three spots are all similar in tone but unique and their own. What challenges did this present to you as the director? Was it a case of treating each as one or was there one guiding theme over all of them (apart from all of them being suitably weird)?
Andreas> Yes, they look different from each other and we worked hard to make sure that was the case. The core idea is of course identical for all of them which is sort of the beauty of this campaign and I think it’s what gives this idea legs. They could easily make 100 more of these.
LBB> What was the casting process like for each film? What were you specifically looking for?
Andreas> Well, basically we looked for good actors… The most unusual and exciting casting for me was for the Mime film. Budapest has proven to be a really good city for avant-garde mime artists and because the theatres are closed due to lockdown we managed to get a great baritone singer from the opera house to stop by and do some singing in Diner.
LBB> The mime spot presents a particular challenge in that there's no dialogue. Have you ever worked with the medium of mime before? If not, how did you get to grips with it?
Andreas> I have a theatre background so this one felt like home to me. Overall, I prefer a more distilled language even when there is dialogue. Ads with too much dialogue often end up making me feel like I’m listening to a Yngwie Malmsteen solo
. Some might say it sounds like Paganini
but to me it sounds more like a vacuum cleaner on the loose.
I love the economic writing in Kaurismäkis films. Or Bela Tarr. Or Tati. Or any other master that understands how to tell a story with small subtle gestures and carefully chosen words.
LBB> Naturally, your perception of mime is quite alternative, in the best sense of that word. How did you go about building those performances? Was it a case of letting the actors do their thing or was there quite a bit of guidance from you?
LBB> We built it in the callbacks through improvisations. I made a montage of electroacoustic music like Rune Lindblad, Morton Subotnick, Stockhausen and Ben Vida that we rehearsed with. We switched between these different musical themes and emotions to provoke reactions from the performer.
We had two brilliant performers named Csaba Mehes and Kristof Farkas that looked for shapes and patterns based on that. Csaba and Kristof are for mime what Coltrane and Brötzman are to jazz!
The actual performance was 10 minutes long so the editor Ben Campbell at The Quarry played a big part in shaping the final narrative in the edit.
LBB> What was the production like for the other two spots? Were there any particular challenges for each of them?
Andrea> Not really, pretty straightforward. Happy to see my first AD Didier Mallet dry his junk in the last frame of Thermochess. I think they changed his voice to a female voice in the end too which I think he liked.
LBB> Overall, how did you pull off each of these spots? They're three fairly sizable productions considering Covid regulations.
Andreas> Lions Production in Budapest have really good routines for Covid. They make it feel safe and smooth.
Agency: Squarespace (client direct)
Creative Production Manager: Amy Kommatas
Chief Creative Officer: David Lee
Director of Creative Production: Sandra Nam
Senior Director, Creative: Gui Borchert
Staff Writer: Clare Anderson
Senior Art Director: Alex Thompson
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Kiersten Bergstrom
Producer: Danny Owens
Director, Brand Strategy, Content & Partnerships: Kevin Nabipour
Productin Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Andreas Nilsson
Partner / Managing Director: Shawn Lacy
Executive Producer: Holly Vega
Producer: Jonathan Wang
Head of Production: Sean Moody
Director of Photography: Lasse Frank
Production Designer: Koja