Somesuch’s Dan Emmerson on capturing The FA and Wieden+Kennedy London’s vision for Gareth Southgate’s team selection
It’s officially less than one month until the 2018 World Cup gets started in Russia. As kick off approaches - Thursday 14th June, Russia vs Saudi Arabia, in case you wondering - national team coaches are beginning to announce their chosen squads for the competition. England’s Football Association - a country in which the World Cup is a pretty massive deal (and admittedly very often ends in predictable disappointment) - took a wildly different approach to its team announcement this year, collaborating with Wieden+Kennedy London and Somesuch director Dan Emmerson on a frenzied youth-filled film in which young fans from across the country announced England manager Gareth Southgate’s selection. The resulting spot is a super fun feat of logistical work - director Dan and the production team weren’t privy to knowing the final squad selection until much before me and you, meaning they needed to shoot scenes for 35 players (with only 23 final places) and a last minute edit.
LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with Dan to find out more.
LBB> This is a totally new approach to this type of announcement - what were you thinking when the job came in?
DE> I knew it would be a challenge, football fans don't typically like change! It's taken long enough for goal-line technology to be introduced!
LBB> When prepping and developing your script, did you treat this job like an ‘ad’? Or did you approach it differently?
DE> It was important to my approach that this didn't feel too much like an ad. I wanted it to feel as if it was almost made by the kids themselves.
LBB> The film obviously came out at the same time as the squad announcement - was it a case of shooting more names than you actually needed and leaving some shots out?
DE> It was mental. We had to shoot around 35 scenes to account for players that we thought might make the squad. Then we had to wait until the day before the announcement for Gareth Southgate to tell us his final 23.
LBB> You’ve shot a pretty large amount of people for this - different football teams, various kids, heaps of locations, etc. - how was that to deal with?
DE> Hats off to the amazing producers on this one. We shot the bulk of it over three days which was a miracle. It helped that all the kids were massive footy fans and played for clubs that were really keen to help us out. We couldn't have got close to it without the help of the clubs around the country.
LBB> It seems widely street cast - how does that affect your approach to a job? Did you give them much direction or was it more a case of bringing everyone’s real selves out?
DE> It's almost entirely street cast. Leanne Flinn did an incredible job casting. I've never really worked with actors. For something like this, it was important to me for the kids to be football fans, that was the main thing. We did an initial casting tape submission and most of the kids who submitted had great energy and eventually made the cut, a couple of them are actors but they are really just playing themselves.
LBB> Are you a football fan? With that in mind, how was it for you personally to work on a job like this?
DE> I'm a massive Newcastle United supporter, I was born there. Football has always been a big part of my life. I was really up for doing something that would appeal to a new generation.
LBB> What kind of reaction have you seen to it since it went live?
DE> The reaction has been great, it's been shared so many times and the kids who are in it absolutely love it which I think is sweet. I'm really glad we achieved something genuinely different to what had been out there before, and that people have responded to that. Some outspoken people tried to slam the video but were massively outweighed by the positive.
LBB> I love the last shot after the graphic of the team sheet - was that planned or a bonus that came out the shoot?
DE> It was planned. We shot loads of off the cuff remarks like that to drop in throughout the edit. But it ended up working best where it was at the end.
LBB> Do you have a favourite moment from the film?
DE> The lad hung upside down on the goal posts saying "Kieran Trippier"! Or the Raheem Sterling scene - that location is where he actually goes to eat Caribbean food in Wembley.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
DE> The trickiest thing apart from covering off all the names we needed was to juggle the edit and post work. Ben Crook and Time Based Arts did an amazing job working along side each other to get the post work and cut married up.