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It's safe to say that Ben Coyle-Larner, one half of Spindle directing duo Coyle-Larner Brothers and British hip-hop star under the stage name Loyle Carner, is a fan of legendary footballer Eric Cantona.

After naming a 2014 track and 2016 tour after the player, and often wearing his late-stepfather's Cantona shirt during concerts, it's clear that when EA and Philadelphia-based agency 160over90 were looking for someone to helm a heartfelt spot announcing The King's return to the console smash, there was only one choice.

Backed by a spoken word track penned by the musician, the ad, There Is Only One King, was shot with brother Ryan on the streets of London (apart from a quick jaunt to France) and offers an uplifting and empowering message to fans of the sport, videogame and legend himself.

We were curious about how the piece came together, how shooting under new restrictions impacted it and how it felt to work with someone you've idolised throughout your life, so sat down with both Coyle-Larner bros to get the score.

EA Sports – There Is Only One King

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How did you guys get involved in the project? Was the spoken word element there before you guys were brought in to direct, or was that always the plan?

Ben: It all came as a full package in the end. 

I couldn't write anything for a couple weeks, then one afternoon it just fell out of my head. 

FIFA reached out to see if I was interested in writing something for their announcement of Cantona and I said I’d only do it if me and my brother got to shoot the visual that went alongside it. 

We know that the poem is very personal to you - how did you approach writing/performing it?

Ben: It actually came about quite quickly in the end. I couldn't write anything for a couple weeks, then one afternoon it just fell out of my head. 

What were the early stages of the shoot? What was the toughest element to prep?

Ben: The early stages of the shoot for me was sifting through old Cantona footage, and revisiting the old Nike Joga Bonito adverts. Can't really call that work, ha ha.

Ryan: The toughest part was probably getting to shoot Cantona. He was in the South of France and we had to get a crew there on a tight budget whilst being cautious of the current pandemic. Our producer worked overtime to make it happen! 

The early stages of the shoot for me was sifting through old Cantona footage, and revisiting the old Nike Joga Bonito adverts. Can't really call that work.

We ended up driving the whole way, so it was two days of driving. Absolutely worth it to work with The King.

What kind of Covid prep did you have to account for? How did it change your normal directorial flow?

Ben: Can't lie, I actually love wearing a facemask, but honestly It didn’t really change much. Everyone maintained a safe space and kept everything clean. Easy 

Ryan: In production, we followed the APA Covid-19 shooting guidelines and everyone had to be really careful. Luckily it was a little easier with most of the locations being exterior in large spaces so everyone could be spaced out. 

Post production was entirely remote.

Aside from that, how was the shoot itself? How and why were the locations/players chosen?

Ben: The shoot was a lot of fun, we had kept the story board loose so that we could play around with new ideas on the day. The players were chosen simply for a shared love of football,

Ryan: The shoot was a lot of fun. Our characters needed to feel like a cross section of football fans, so our casting had to reflect that. We wanted our characters to feel like real people - that local pie and mash shop owner, those kids you see playing in the park after school. To try and reach this level of authenticity, we also needed to take a documentary-style approach to filming. 

We shot on-location, used natural lighting and kept the camera dynamic, moving around our subjects and exploring the space. 

We shot on-location, used natural lighting and kept the camera dynamic, moving around our subjects and exploring the space. The actors were able to play around with their roles and have fun with them, while we watched like a fly on the wall. This added a level of spontaneity to the performances that I think makes the film feel authentic.

Were there any unforeseen issues? How did you overcome them?

Ben: Yeah, loads! Our super 8 film didn’t arrive until the end of the first day. Neither did the crowns. 

That’s part of the fun though. 

Ryan: We didn’t have access to the super 8 camera for most of the first day of the shoot, but once we got it, the super 8 footage turned out really well.

How was shooting with The King himself? Did Cantona offer up any words of wisdom?

Ben: Cantona was a gentleman. True professional, and was really engaged in our idea. 

He actually invited us back to his for lunch but we had a 14-hour drive back to the UK hanging over us, so there wasn't any time for his wisdom. 

Ryan: He was always a big name in our family and was kind of mythologised to us - “I am not a man, I am Cantona” pretty much sums it up. I hadn’t met him before, and it was strange meeting someone who you’d always thought of as a legend. Turns out he was just super humble and nice. 

[Cantona] invited us back to his for lunch but we had a 14-hour drive back to the UK hanging over us, so there wasn't any time for his wisdom. 

He has a lot of acting experience and knew exactly what he was doing in front of the camera, what a pro.

What was your favourite moment on the shoot?

Ben: Playing football with Cantona and his son. Magic. 

Ryan: Ben’s dog Stacks gets a cameo in the film. There’s a shot of him chasing after the school kids - that was a lot of fun to shoot.

What's your favourite part of the ad itself?

Ben: The stills of Iqra and her team mate from NUR Women’s Football Club, some of the best ballers I’ve ever met. 

Ryan: I think the father and son watching the football in the park is a really sweet moment.

Big question: Who wins in a FIFA match between the two of you?

Ben: No question, me 5-0.

Ryan: We used to play together a lot when we were younger, and Ben would always thrash me. 

We used to play together a lot when we were younger, and Ben would always thrash me. 

Kinda par for the course being the younger brother.

What's up next for you?

Ben: Hopefully keep levelling up, shoot a short film, beat my brother at FIFA again. 

Ryan: We’d love to shoot a short film next, so keep an eye out for that.

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