Jaguar Land Rover’s Jeff Peel and Wonder Screen director Reilly Saso on merging archival and modern-day footage to revisit an around-the-world road trip
Land Rover turns the grand old age of 70 this year, and to mark the occasion in Canada the brand is revisiting an epic around-the-world trip made in its original model 61 years ago. Directed and edited by Wonder Screen’s Reilly Saso and created by Spark44, the short film chronicles the 1957 journey taken by renowned Canadian artist and naturalist Robert Bateman and biologist/ecologist Bristol Foster in a custom-built Land Rover Series 1, nicknamed the ‘Grizzly Torque’.
It combines modern day footage of Bateman and Foster inside the restored Grizzly Torque – which was rescued from a scrap yard in the B.C. interior several years ago – with archival footage captured by Foster on their 60,000-kilometre journey through 19 countries on four continents, including Africa and Australia.
LBB’s Addison Capper picked the brains of Jeff Peel, director of marketing and product planning at Jaguar Land Rover Canada ULC, and director Reilly.
LBB> When did you first learn of Robert and Bristol’s journey? Was it always central to your 70th anniversary campaign or were there other iterations you toyed with?
Jeff> The journey that Robert Bateman and Bristol Foster embarked on with their Land Rover was a story we had our eye on for some time. After learning more about it and digging through the archival footage, it quickly became a story that had to be told - and since it was Land Rover’s 70th anniversary as a brand, what better time than now to produce a homegrown story that Canadians could be proud of?
LBB> What’s the strategic thinking behind visiting an older story like this?
Jeff> The Grizzly Torque project was conceived to celebrate Land Rover’s 70th anniversary, and participate in the global campaign featuring stories of world-class adventurers and the vehicles that enabled them.
LBB> Reilly, which details are you most proud of and why?
Reilly> What I am most proud of is that I feel we truly captured the wonderful relationship these two incredible humans have shared over a lifetime. It was a profoundly touching experience to not only to sort through Bristol Foster’s footage of their journey as the editor, but also, as the director, to witness first hand an unwavering friendship that has withstood the tests of time and still continues to grow. I believe we were able to effectively communicate that in the telling of their story.
LBB> Did you learn anything new during the project?
Reilly> It was amazing to learn about the history of the Grizzly Torque. It was found in a scrap yard a few years ago and great effort was made to restore it. Robert even recreated the paintings on the side of the vehicle, as they had fallen victim to Canadian winters and road salt. The restored Grizzly Torque really is quite spectacular up close and personal; it's a work of art in itself.
LBB> What kind of visual influences fuelled it?
Reilly> Bristol's incredible archival footage really set the bar visually for this film. The way he captured the people and places they encountered along the way was quite masterful. So, we of course wanted to capture our subjects with the same depth and respect. And luckily for us, we had beautiful Salt Spring Island as our backdrop. Not only do these guys love nature, they live nature, so we also had that visual inspiration to draw from.
LBB> What were the trickiest components when developing this campaign and how did you overcome them?
Jeff> The most challenging aspect of the project was determining what content to keep in the final video. Because the Grizzly Torque story was so rich, and Robert and Bristol had many stories and anecdotes, every bit of the content was compelling. The combined hours of historical footage and the beautiful film we shot on the Bateman’s estate could have produced a feature film.