Creative in association withGear Seven
Rewriting The Sportsbook with Ponder and Director Brian Durnin
Production Company
Dublin, Ireland
Ponder director Brian Burnin shares how he helped betting brand SBK deliver a level playing field

Ponder caught up with director Brian Durnin to chat about his new film for SBK ‘Rewriting the Sportsbook’ for Dublin agency The Tenth Man and directing a film where the client is on the wrong side of the camera.

Q> When you saw this script what did you think?

Brian> My first impression was that this could be really fun to make. The original draft had a bit more stuff being smashed and involved a javelin and two line-backers but in essence the concept was the same. The silliness appealed to me as did the tone. It felt like something I would be interested in making. 

Q> You were given the challenge of working with not just a non-actor, but also the client / the owner of the company – how did you deal with that?

Brian> Jason was very keen to get involved so I did my best to embrace this and work with him on all aspects of the shoot. It was a very interesting experience from that point of view. Going into it I wasn’t sure if he would be able to put the focus on his performance whilst simultaneously thinking about the overall campaign and the company’s message. However, I have to say he managed this very well indeed.

Q> Did you rehearse a lot?

Brian> Together with my Producer Paul Holmes I met with Jason near his home in Paris a few weeks ahead of the shoot and took the time to chat through the scenes in detail and rehearse. This was essential to making sure we were on the same page going into the shoot. We ran the scenes a few times but perhaps more importantly we were able to chat about tonality and film references in order to find common ground. Then, in the days leading up to the shoot we rehearsed the scenes a few more times and nailed down most of the nuances so that we had a good platform to work from going into the shoot itself.

Q> How did it work on the shoot with the client on the wrong side of the camera?

Brian> Funnily enough it actually kind of streamlined things at times as Jason was so acutely aware of what we were trying to achieve. Though, I have to admit it’s a little odd when your client is giving performance notes on his own performance! My main worry was that it might be a little overwhelming for him, but he seemed to take it in his stride. I tend to run quite an inclusive set so Jason, his team and the agency were often watching monitors in the same space as me. I can imagine there are other directors to whom this sounds like hell but on this project it was really important to have us all singing off the same hymn sheet and to work together.

Q> Are you happy with the finished film?

Brian> Yeah. I think it came out very well. There are always elements you see retrospectively which you wish you’d thought of on the day but by-and-large it’s very close to what we set out to do. There were some fun additions that we added late in the day which I was happy with and Jason’s mullet exceeded my expectations considerably, as did Cho Cho the first AD ending up acting in the film (“How did they do it Jason?) which came about from running the lines in rehearsals!

Q> What advice have you for anyone who’s client is appearing in their own ad?

Brian> Run a mile… Ha ha only joking! Sort of. Make sure that you are clear about what you are aiming to achieve. References are great so these really helped myself and Jason in terms of finding a general tone for the performance. Beyond this just be honest. It is likely your client has many of their own views on how they want to present themselves but these may not tally with your ideas or their acting abilities. It’s pretty brave to want to put yourself in front of the camera as spokesperson for your own brand and it could be very overwhelming so part of the director’s job is to help them through this daunting process.

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