Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

How FAMILIA Made Impatience a Virtue in New Balance’s Star-Studded Spot

Production Company
London, UK
Director Sashinski, photographer Ollie Ali and EP / partner Toby Walsham go behind the scenes of their latest campaign starring Jaden Smith and Coco Gauff

Given the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months, impatience is undoubtedly a quality familiar to most of us. The latest spot for New Balance, however starring Jaden Smith and directed by FAMILIA’s Sashinski, takes that concept and runs with it. 

The film, entitled ‘Impatience Is A Virtue” as part of the “We Got Now” campaign, sees Smith alongside a number of athletes extolling the virtues of impatience. To illustrate the concept, we see Smith loading up a truck for his Water Box project - a mobile filtration device which can provide clean water to communities in need. Impatience, the film’s stars seem to explain, is a necessity when it comes to making a time-sensitive impact. 

To go behind the scenes of the star-studded spot, LBB caught up with Sashinski, alongside EP and Partner Toby Walsham and photographer Ollie Ali. 

Above: A director’s cut of ‘We Got Now’ for New Balance.

LBB> Hello, guys! First things first - how did you come to be involved in this campaign, and what were your feelings heading into it?

Sashinski> We first pitched on the script last October, and you could tell that it was going to be a really fun, invigorating project. A global campaign shooting in lots of different countries with a variety of talent - some were real athletes who were training for this year’s Olympics, and then you had personalities like Jaden Smith. 

We knew that we wanted to shoot in Cape Town, because we’ve got connections there and the weather suited us. But we also, because of the location of talent, had to shoot two of the scenes in the US. At one point we were talking about going to Tokyo and Beijing, but the rules were changing every week about where we could go, and what was logistically possible. Initially it was supposed to be a ten week production window but because of all the challenges pertaining to travel restrictions and the availability of talent it ended up going on for five months. Ultimately, we got through it and it was just a really fun project to be a part of.

Ollie> The first thought that crossed my mind was that it was an honour to shoot this campaign and to work alongside the extremely talented director, and my good friend, Sasha. Together, we had the pleasure of capturing incredible moments with some of the most impressive talent of this generation for an iconic brand. We came to the challenge with an end goal in mind: inspiring young talent to pursue their dreams, and to waste no time in doing so. 

LBB> Looking at the finished spot now, how closely does it compare with your original vision going into the project? 

Sashinski> The thing that I’m most pleased with is the consistency of look, because it’s really challenging to do that when you’re working in lots of different territories. In each different location you’re working with different cinematographers, a different camera crew, a different team. Many of them are people I’ve not worked with before, and we didn’t have the opportunity to spend a huge amount of time in pre-production to discuss my aesthetic or how I wanted to move the camera. Joe Cook, who was the project cinematographer, was really helpful. The first thing that we did was establish a look by determining what camera we were going to use, what lenses we were going to use, what time of day we would like to shoot, and how we were going to frame the action. 

Toby> I agree - Looking back at the treatments, I think we pretty much nailed it. The director’s cut, for me, is exactly how Sasha saw it. I’m sure there are things you wish you would have done better - but that’s the case for every film we ever make, right? We’re always striving for something better. But I'm personally really proud of what we achieved, considering the time constraints, the budget, and obviously the challenges that every filmmaker has had to deal with throughout this period.

LBB> What can you tell us about your approach to casting for this spot?

Sashinski> So the first part of the casting process was conventional, where it was based on a series of tapes and in-person casting. But because so many of the roles were talent-based, we had to do a full day in a part of Cape Town that has a skatepark, basketball court, and five-aside football fields. And that was really fun. We just basically set up camp for the day, and must have seen over 200 people. So as well as saying “give us a line to camera”, we were giving each person two minutes with a  football or basketball to show us what they they could do. Each audition tried to trump the one before, I’ve not been involved in a casting with a such a competitive edge. 

The casting brief kept changing. The running scene was originally meant to be about Japanese runners, but then we decided to make it a bit more general. So, it became about a female runner who was too impatient to wait for the women’s race - which habitually comes after the men’s race in high school varsity racing. So that then became more of a wider commentary on gender in sport.

Above: A series of images taken from across the campaign. 

LBB> Toby, you mentioned time constraints earlier. What kind of challenge did that provide, and how did you overcome it?

Toby> The production itself ended up going on for a few months - it was originally meant to last two, but ended up being about five. With the shoot itself, however, there was a lot to get done in very short periods of time. With athletes and celebrities, you’re given hours, rather than days. We’ve worked with a lot in the past, so for us it’s just about knowing the process and understanding you’ve got to shoot a whole 30-second sequence in two hours, rather than in a day or two. That requires lots of planning and preparation.

LBB> The spot tells us that impatience is a virtue. Do you think that’s a message very specific to the pandemic, or does it go wider than that?

Sashinski> It absolutely goes wider than that. The creatives were really keen to emphasise that they felt the message was reflective of Gen Z. They did extensive research and gave us lots of examples that formed their creative - and I think Jaden is a really good example of this. At the age of 20, he was one of the chairs of the Global Climate Summit, sitting opposite Al Gore. The two of them were having a conversation about sustainability and climate change, and one point that really stuck with me was Jaden talking about the route he’d taken. His point was that, if he had taken a conventional route, he would have gone to University and worked for some kind of sustainable NGO, then eventually set up a company. But he was just able to leapfrog that whole part of the journey. 

Of course, he's an influencer and the son of a very well-known actor and musician, but he used his platform in a way that was really innovative. That’s a testament to the value of impatience.

All the personalities that feature in the film are stubborn in their pursuit for meaningful change. What was important was to communicate their sense of urgency, but also that they might not take conventional routes to success.

LBB> Watching the spot, there’s a really intense energy that shines through. How do you create that as a director?

Sashinski> That’s a good question. I was kind of nervous going into it, but what I realised is all of that tension and tempo and speed comes as a result of the edit. I work with one particular editor, Stephen Dunn, who has a fantastic ability to master tempo. What we basically did was set everything up at the beginning, then cut into the point of action, and then you’ve got the point of acknowledgement. The tempo really moves around, so we work to give those sections a kind of resting moment to breathe, then everyone acts, and then it just gets shorter and shorter and shorter. And you go on that journey again in the final montage, one last flurry, before you finish on that shot of Coco from Wimbledon.

LBB> Finally, what were the biggest challenges you encountered when working on this film - and how did you overcome them? 

Toby> It’s kind of ironic that the film is about impatience, given that’s how I’ve been feeling waiting for everyone to see it ever since we started the shoot! We first started in November, and since then my memory of the actual shoot has faded away. But the whole process was incredibly tough. Not only do things just move slower in the pandemic, but the key decision makers from agency and client were in different time zones to us. So when we’re shooting in Miami and LA, we're in the UK timezone. That meant working evenings which is incredibly difficult during pre production, let alone the shoot. And when we were in South Africa, we were even further away by another two hours, so that was even more of a challenge. But that kind of thing is just part and parcel of this industry. 

Ollie> From my perspective, shooting remotely from across the globe created an element of challenge - but at the same time it was a fantastic opportunity to work with more diverse teams in order to bring our ambitious visions to life. I am really excited to see the campaign go live, and I hope that we have been able to achieve our goal of inspiring the next generation to get out and pursue their dreams - the same risk that took me to this very moment.

Sashinski> The thing that I was probably most anxious about was Jaden's participation, given that we shot him last. And if you take Jaden out of the edit, to me, it kind of feels like just another sports film. Having him in it gave it a different kind of weight - it took it beyond the realm of sport. But his schedule was challenging, as well as the availability of the Waterbox.

On top of that, LA was constantly going in and out of lockdown. Every time we had a date in the calendar, the rules kept changing. So that was the thing that I was most nervous about, and I was really happy to get that in the can. It wasn't exactly as we had intended, but I think his participation gives the film a slightly different feeling. 

One other thing I’d like to mention, is that I remember just before we shot Jaden I rewatched The Pursuit of Happiness! I remember first watching it with my dad like 15 years ago. Rewatching it for the first time in a very long time I was like, “wow, this four year old is amazing in this film and now I’m working with him like 18 years later”. If someone told me at that point, this little kid’s going to be a star and you’re going to get to direct him in a commercial, I never would have believed that. To actually experience that, I thought, was quite nice.

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