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Your Shot: How TRAKTOR Recreated Trainspotting in Ancient Greece


Stink Paris and the directing collective go behind the scenes on their sword-and-sandals trailer for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, featuring live creepy crawlies and 100 soldiers in ‘miniskirts’

Your Shot: How TRAKTOR Recreated Trainspotting in Ancient Greece
The launch film for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey took us aback when we first saw it. It’s a combination of references that we’d never have imagined working together: the opening sequence to Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, complete with the iconic “choose life” monologue, set in Ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War of the 3rd Century BCE, where the latest action-adventure title in the blockbuster series takes place.

The idea from DDB Paris was a bold one, but if anyone was going to make it work on film it was legendary Scandinavian directing collective TRAKTOR, who’ve earned their chops in both zany and epic over the years. 

But where do you start with such an ambitious project? LBB’s Alex Reeves asked TRAKTOR and Greg Panteix, executive producer and managing partner at Stink Paris, to fill us in on how they pulled it off.

LBB> What were your first thoughts when you saw the script?

TRAKTOR> Boy howdy! What do the people at DDB Paris eat for breakfast? Seriously though, we loved it. We love Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting and we love Assassin’s Creed. A script like this is a rare opportunity… and who doesn't want to make an action/costume drama with warriors in miniskirts and sandals? 

Greg> It was the first time I’ve read a script that worked on so many levels. I thought the idea of tapping into Irvine Welch's social criticism and applying it to Ancient Greece was great and I could see how in paying homage to Trainspotting we would add some layers of meaning. This felt like a great opportunity to produce a unique piece and I immediately had TRAKTOR in mind to direct it. I knew they could tackle both the fun and the scale of this project, without losing the core concept.

LBB> It's a bit of a visual feast, to say the least! What were your inspirations and references for how the film looked?

TRAKTOR> We wanted to make a juicy trailer for a film that doesn’t exist that inspired the game - if that makes any sense - and of course, mimic the opening shots of Trainspotting, to point out the obvious. It was a glorious process and we had amazing art and wardrobe departments that gave a lot of time and energy to be as historically accurate as possible. Then we added a stellar DP (Linus Sandgren) to the mix and leaned back at the monitors. It wasn’t boring.

Greg> The inspiration came from Ancient Greece itself so in making this film we had to make sure everything related to the right time and the right region. We worked with Greek historians in Athens to be as accurate as possible. They double-checked our art department and the props we were using and gave us the right colour palette as some colours didn’t exist at that time. 

The game assets were of course very helpful too. It was interesting to be recreating this world without any reference pictures, but Ubisoft games are always very accurate in their depicting of the ancient world, so based on the game assets, we could double check it all made sense. The Greek crew was also so excited to do Ancient Greece in Greece that everyone played a big part in it.  Shooting in Greece moved very efficiently in this respect as they knew and understood what we were trying to achieve.

LBB> As directors, what was most exciting about this film? The chance to make a sword-and-sandal historical epic doesn't come along often!

TRAKTOR> It certainly doesn't. The challenge was to take the production to the Greek islands and make it all happen without lowering the bar. But the excitement of the local crew and cast was amazing. Shooting Greece for Ancient Greece triggered something extra within everybody and that was great to see. On top of that, the World Cup was happening at the same time. Big football events always cheer up the mood around the craft service table. Of course, the French agency/client had a lot to be happy about. 

LBB> It looks like a lot of fun to shoot. What scene did you most enjoy shooting?

TRAKTOR> All of them! 

Greg> We enjoyed every bit of it. Shooting in Greece on location in June was hot and fun, we had long days and many company moves but it’s not very often that you get to have 100 soldiers fighting, stunts and rigging every day, and a giant. 

LBB> Was there anything you particularly liked that you had to leave out in the edit?

TRAKTOR> Actually no. We were surprisingly focused on this shoot. Almost everything we shot made it in the final edit. There are of course some fun takes and prolonged scenes that got cut down, but there is nothing that we are missing. 

Greg> We were lucky enough to have everything in the edit; all of the sequences made it in.

LBB> There are lots of nice visual jokes. What's your favourite moment?

TRAKTOR> It’s always fun to try and tell a whole narrative with only a couple of shots, and make the viewer fill in the blanks. Alexios sitting with his new ‘friends’ eating roadkill in a cage was fun in that sense.

Greg> For me the ‘stuffing junk food into your mouth’ is a moment I love. It’s visually very simple and it really works in the contrast between the voice-over and the action.

We also had a lot of fun shooting it, Nassim the actor was very brave while having to chew on these huge Larvae.

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Genres: Action, Comedy, Scenic, People, Storytelling

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Stink Films, Thu, 27 Sep 2018 16:33:05 GMT