Freelance art director Eleanor Harpur and her director / photographer husband Trevor Hart were locked down in their Dublin home, trying to stay creative, when a smart idea emerged. A line popped into Trevor’s head. Realising that they had all of the talent, equipment, and toy cars at hand to make a piece of branded content for an automotive brand, they gave it a go.
The resulting film is an adventure through the varied terrain of their locked-down home, a series of the usual vistas we’re used to marvelling at in a normal Land Rover ad, except scaled down - a dusty mountain valley becomes a crumpled up duvet, a pile of flour evokes the snow drifts of the tundra and you can imagine a row of books as an urban high street. Instead of a real 4x4, the automotive star is a model car, propelled by Eleanor’s son and daughter’s hands rather than the usual internal combustion engine.
It could well have just ended up as a speculative project to keep their creative minds and hands busy, but when they showed Land Rover’s marketing department they loved it and bought the film. So now it can be seen on the automaker’s official social media channels.
LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Eleanor and Trevor to find out how they managed to achieve this under tight restrictions with a good idea and a tiny crew.
LBB> How is your life under lockdown, generally speaking?
Trevor> I’ve really enjoyed the down time! It's been great to get off the treadmill for a bit.
Eleanor> For me it's been like flipping a switch from constantly chasing my tail to having too much time that I don’t know what to do first. I go from blind panic and worry about the future, to self-induced laziness and drinking wine with lunch all in the space of a few hours, but sure what's new?
LBB> When you first realised the situation we were going into, what were your thoughts on how your work would be affected?
Trevor> Obviously we were both very concerned about the loss of income, but the government in Ireland has been helpful in providing a quick and easily accessed income support scheme for employees and employers. We weren’t so worried about the present time so much as later in the summer when there will be a gap in cash flow.
Eleanor> The worry has slowly been replaced with the excitement of new opportunities and a chance to think about how we shift our work life balance.
LBB> And how has the reality been different from your expectations?
Trevor> The lockdown has given us a chance to press the stop button and reevaluate. We are usually so busy it’s not often you get the chance to do that. I’ve particularly loved the opportunity to do some personal work and plan a new website. We are about to launch a new venture so the lockdown has given us some planning time for this.
Eleanor> I’m generally not good when I’m not working. So the reality for me took some getting used to. The reality of balancing home schooling and trying to keep creative has taken some time to fine tune! Luckily we both have some great clients and we have still been able to do some valuable work for them from home.
LBB> How did this film for Land Rover begin?
Trevor> I remember sitting in bed one morning having one of those ‘Groundhog Day’ moments and the line, ‘Explore the great indoors’ popped into my head, it felt like such an elegant and simple idea. When I was a kid I had a collection of Corgi and Dinky cars which I loved. Everything from 007’s Aston Martin to the original Land Rover Defender and everything in between. I’d play for hours in exactly the same way you see Margot and Tom doing in the film.
Eleanor> When Trevor mentioned the idea to me I knew it would be fun. The only thing we needed to do was trust our instincts.
LBB> What were the key ideas in it becoming a reality?
Trevor> The duvet we'd been sleeping on became the first ‘landscape’. The safari animals were straight out of the 1967 movie ‘Born Free’ which also featured the original Defender. When I spoke to Denis Goodbody, our copywriter, he suggested the title song sung by Matt Monro
which I’ve always loved. Sadly it would have taken too long and cost too much to get the licence for that track but our amazing music supervisor, Julian at Pure Sync, found ‘Just Imagine’ and the fit was even better with the current crisis in mind.
Eleanor> We did a little storyboard at first, all based on how our world had shrunk - but as we began shooting new ideas came up and without the constraints of the usual layers of approval we just went for it and did what felt right.
LBB> How did you make it?
Trevor> I had my DSLR at home which is a NIKON D850 and a ZEISS Milvus 50mm F2 Makro lens. It shoots great 4k so we used this and an EDELKRONE SliderOne which I bought recently for the movement. I wanted the shot from above of the Discovery driving through the duvet landscape to look like drone footage so I set the camera to shoot in slo-mo to reduce the camera shake and hand held as I swooped over the car. My son Ethan Hart is also a photographer and lives in London, he’s a great editor so I sent him all the footage to edit for us.
Eleanor> From an art department point of view, being restricted to using only what I could lay my hands on was a great challenge and lots of fun.
LBB> What was the biggest restriction or challenge and how did you overcome it?
Trevor> The biggest challenge was keeping the kids focused on the job in hand, if you’ll excuse the pun. We resorted to bribes.
LBB> How did Land Rover respond? Why was it right for them?
Trevor> At the beginning of our lockdown we had decided to create some content to support some of our existing clients who we enjoy working with. When we sent it first to Emma Dodd [national communications manager - Land Rover UK] she got it straight away and sent us a lovely email to say that she loved it and that it was “so Land Rover”. She felt it was exactly the right message for them at this time and it’s been running on the Land Rover UK social media channels. We gave Land Rover the rights to use the film in the UK and Ireland.
LBB> What are the big lessons for you both? Is there anything that you'd like people to take from the project?
Trevor> Even within the limits of crew, budget and logistics, it’s still possible to make interesting work, but there has to be a strong simple concept. Effective communication is usually always about connecting either with humour, emotion or a feeling we all share. If you don’t have those things, you’re just adding to the noise.
Eleanor> I'm really hoping that when we get back shooting the new restrictions will encourage more creativity. Without the fanfare of huge productions and lots of cast on set the core idea will need to shine through. I’m excited to see how creatives respond when it’s all stripped back - hopefully back to the good old days where the idea is KING.
LBB> Anything else you'd like to add?
Trevor> Watch this space, we’re thinking about doing something that responds to the ever growing obsession with sourdough starters!