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Diving Deeper Into HSBC's ‘Tomorrow Is Only a Day Away' with The Sweet Shop’s Louis Sutherland

Trends and Insight 361 Add to collection

The director on crafting a campaign that shows how parents will do anything for their kids

Diving Deeper Into HSBC's ‘Tomorrow Is Only a Day Away' with The Sweet Shop’s Louis Sutherland

JWT London recently launched the second chapter in HSBC's 'Onwards' campaign. The new spot, 'Tomorrow Is Only a Day Away' was directed by The Sweet Shop's Louis Sutherland. 

Speaking with Louis, we delve deeper into the production behind this touching new film.

Q> This is beautiful film. It’s very personal, relatable. Tell us about the starting point of this campaign. What kind of brief did you receive and what were you thinking when you saw it?

Louis Sutherland> Working with JWT London has always been a case of them handing me a solid story or structure, then asking me where I would take it. They always know what they’re after, but trust I’m going to add something else to the idea. I think the key thing that guides me through treatment stage is that the story is simple and has a strong and clear message. This is about a father’s struggle in wanting the best for his child. As a father of five kids I instantly felt a personal connection to the dad’s plight and started putting some of that feeling on the page.

Q> This film is a change of pace from HSBC’s previous spot, ‘The Secret Den’. Can you talk about the different perspective?

LS> ‘Tomorrow Is Only a Day Away’ has a cyclic narrative where we keep tripping back to the start of the day as dad gets out of bed and does his best to raise his young daughter. What really changes is the human detail and dynamic between the cast, moment to moment. This excited me as the focus became very much about nuanced performance. CD Dave Jenner and I share a monitor on set when we work together. Working on our feet, we created new moments and developed the film language.  

It’s refreshing that ‘Tomorrow Is Only a Day Away’ also tells the story from an adult’s perspective of the world. Instead of following a child’s dreams as we did in in the two previous campaigns, here, we experience the weight of a single parent and his duty to raise and provide for his daughter. I felt this is strong emotional currency with our audience, as who doesn’t want the best for their kids. Empathy wise, we knew we had a relationship our viewers would care about.       

Q> What did you want to make the audience feel with this ad?

LS> This is about a loving relationship between father and daughter. To be honest, I was partly changeling my own relationship with my oldest daughter Cass and our own shared experiences many years ago when it felt like we just had each other. She was my best mate and I hers. When we see this in the frame; a parent struggling, but not giving a damn inch as it’s for their child, it’s a primal notion that transcends race and culture and demands you connect as a person, not a viewer. I wanted people to care about this relationship when they watched it grow on screen. I wanted them to ultimately feel good about this small, imperfectly shaped family and their journey. 

Q> What was the casting process like? What did you look for in the cast to capture the emotion in the story?

LS> We had a few stand outs in the casting, which had us all deliberating a little longer than usual. But what was eye catching about Michael and Angela in the audition room was their humanity. I like to run improvs and not line reads. They’re so limiting and you can’t see the person. When we tested with improvs, these two were so comfortable in being themselves and not in an inanimate way. They connected with the other players, listened and were always generous. All these facets made for a human sensibility that we needed for this film to matter. When they first met, they gave each other a warm hug and laughed. Totally unguarded, an instant like of each other and the audition itself could have been a scene in the film. It was lovely to watch. As a director when you feel ‘this is too easy’, take the money and run! What I really loved about Michael, beyond his heartiness, is how refreshing he is on the eye in a commercial speak world. He looks like a real dad, not just another one that we’ve seen multiple times in a commercial. It’s always a fine line, but what he gave us was integrity at a glance and the foundations to believe we were watching something with a little more edge and believability.

Q> What were you trying to evoke with the art direction, the aesthetics? What were the structural and emotional needs of the story.

LS> One of my roles is to make sure the look, tone and lighting evokes the feel and spirit that speaks to the HSBC brand. If I don’t, I’ve failed. With ‘Tomorrow Is Only a Day Away’, I was working the colour palette and our lighting with my HOD’s and even selected specific locations with natural or given lighting in mind. This is because we shot half our film in the dark during the wee hours of the morning, so reflective surfaces, practical lighting, warmth and texture all became major talking points for me to ensure we got something beautiful to work hard and contrast the darkness.

One of the questions that I wanted to play out in the viewers’ minds was ‘where’s mum?’ I didn’t want this to become a sticking point, but something that gently worked their emotion over, almost sub-consciously. So I placed photos of her around the house, on dad’s bedside. I also got Riccardo Pugliese to design the first home with a feminine touch throughout. We wanted the home to feel comfortable, but also for the dad to sit slightly askew to the decor and props. So we always had a feeling something was missing in their lives – which there was of course. Again, it’s so subtle, but we feel it without knowing how or why when we watch. Well, that’s what I like to think anyways ;).

Q> What were the trickiest components during the creation of this campaign and how did you overcome them? 

LS> Oh look, there are always so many tricky components it becomes a blur for me. That’s not a complaint, just an acceptance that it’s part of the creative process. It’s all the same. So for me, if we don’t get the right bed, which reflects the warm light signed off, it’s as major as losing the best performer. They’re different battles, but creative solutions of equal importance. Luckily, we have a timeline and the only way is forward. I just keep saying to myself, ‘what’s our story about’. If you keep putting the story first, everyone comes to understand you and you get to where you need to be. Seems to work for me anyway.  

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Categories: Insurance, Finance

Sweetshop London, Thu, 30 Mar 2017 14:48:22 GMT