How Iggy Pop was brought to the beach
Yesterday saw the launch of a new film for On the Beach, featuring Iggy Pop. Here, Uncommon ECD and the director of the film, Sam Walker, reveals the thinking behind the campaign's message, the process of being both ECD and director, and why Iggy was the only choice to lead "this defiantly optimistic ode".
The copywriting essentially encapsulates 2020; how difficult was it to write and get the correct tone?
We wrote many drafts of the script, and kept rewriting right up until when we recorded with Iggy. It was incredibly important to try and get the right tone in this strangest of all years. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more responsibility to get it right. Nils [Leonard, Uncommon Co-Founder] and I left it as late as possible to finishing the film to try and make sure events hadn’t overtaken us. We wanted this film to be a beacon of hope in a difficult time and there is always a fine balance in walking that line. It’s a look back at the year and the events that many people have been through. I hope that in five years’ time 2020 will be a solitary aberration of a year, and some of the things we did will just seem completely unreal. We fought for toilet rolls. We really did.
We wanted this film to be a beacon of hope in a difficult time and there is always a fine balance in walking that line.
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- Agency Uncommon/London
- Production Company Pulse Films/London
- Director Sam Walker
- Editor Paul Watts
- Post Production/Grade Black Kite Studios
- Sound Designer Jack Sedgwick
- Audio Producer Matt Wyatt
- Producer Luke Goodrum
Above: The new On the Beach spot, featuring Iggy Pop.
You're the director as well as the ECD; are there any particular challenges in having that dual role?
I really enjoy working collaboratively with other creatives as director, and with directors as ECD. That said, I’ve done both roles for a lot of my career and I find it works really well. I’ve always had a strong idea of what I’m looking for, both as ECD and also as director, and it makes it easier when that person is the same person. It’s a singularity of vision.
How did you get Iggy Pop involved and why was he the right fit for this?
Iggy Pop is like no one else, a truly iconic figure and the person to lead this defiantly optimistic ode in this most challenging of years. He is, and always has been, the man to lead our rage against the dying of the light.
Above: Iggy Pop in Miami with director Sam Walker, DP Alex Barber and other members of the team watching remotely.
Where and when did you shoot the film?
The main body of the film was shot under strict Covid restrictions in Majorca. Everybody, cast and crew alike, had negative Covid tests, wore face masks, observed social distancing and used hand sanitiser wherever possible. Iggy was shot remotely in Miami, again adhering to strict Covid guidelines.
Can you tell us a bit about the casting and where you found all the actors?
The hundred-strong cast were all non-actors; real people, from ages six to 86. We were determined to make this film as inclusive and representative of the British public as possible. The beach is a great democratiser, and our aim was for people of all ages, shapes, ethnicities and backgrounds to see themselves. When you’re stood on the sand in just your swimsuit, it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, we’re all the same in that moment.
For most of [the cast] this was the first time they’d run along a beach, and been with other people, since the start of lockdown.
The cast themselves were amazing, given that I was essentially asking them to sprint up and down the sand all day, their spirits stayed high. I gave the cast a speech at the start of the day and explained to them what the film was about. I think they genuinely understood and felt that release in real life. For most of them this was the first time they’d run along a beach, and been with other people, since the start of lockdown. The on-screen emotion was genuine.
Above: Still from the finished film.
The music is a perfect fit, uplifting and dreamlike; how did you settle on this track?
The track is called Sunday and is by Iggy himself, from his last album, Post Pop Depression. Unusually, we had it as our ideal soundtrack before we shot and we’re honoured that Iggy and [producer] Josh Homme liked the film enough to let us use it. It’s one of those tracks that really is unique. It has different, contrasting emotions, playing simultaneously through its instrumentation; dreamlike vocals and harp, nostalgia through brass band instruments, and uplifting scale with the string section. We were very lucky to get it and it would have been a very different film if we had used something else. Jack Sedgwick, my sound engineer at Wave, skilfully crafted it into a full two-minute track (the original section is only 30-seconds long) and it more than delivers that emotional hook that pulls the viewer along.
Jack Sedgwick, my sound engineer at Wave, skilfully crafted it into a full two-minute track.
Above: Sam Walker on location in Majorca.
What was the biggest challenge in putting the project together?
This was a highly ambitious film and Pulse EP’s James Sorton and Lucy Kelly, and producer Luke Goodrum, did an incredible job making the impossible possible. Luke and Pulse assembled a brilliant team around me, both this side of the Atlantic and the other, and they all did an amazing job. What we shot in two days was really a three day shoot. But we had the luxury of some extra prep time after the first Iggy shoot day and we talked and planned, and by the time we shot, we all knew exactly what we were doing. That's important when you're dealing with a large cast of real people.
And my agency producer, James Faupel, and the Uncommon team, also did a brilliant job, pushed hard and aimed as high as possible from beginning to end. I’m super-chuffed with the whole team to be honest, and couldn’t have done it without them. Huge thanks to Pulse, The Quarry, Black Kite and Wave for believing in the project and always going the extra mile. And, finally, the entire thing wouldn’t have happened without our amazing clients at On The Beach, who, without hyperbole, have been bold, trusting and brilliant.
Given a choice, which beach would you choose to spend your next holiday on?
An amazing, highly unfashionable beach in a place called Pegeura, in Majorca [below].