Championing the Everyday

Every four years, we’re treated to the Olympics; the global behemoth that celebrates the best athletes the world’s nations have to offer. On the weekends, football and rugby dominate our television screens and car radios. On the tube, we wait patiently for our train whilst staring up at a 20ft Lionel Messi in his new Nike boots. 

We’re constantly exposed to the top flight - their images, their voices, their stories. 

But what about the Everyday Olympians? The runners that have to carry their suit in their backpack. The footballers using lampposts as their goals. The tennis players who have fetch their own balls.

This was Director Adam De Silva’s starting point. 

Dylan Gee in the Barbican tennis courts.

Dylan Gee in the Barbican tennis courts.

We approached frequent collaborators Mana Media UK to gauge their interest in the project. Seeing potential in the script, Mana came onboard as production partners and we set about bringing the project to fruition together. 

With a script so focused on ‘the people’, our first port of call was sports modelling and management agency Forté. Having developed a relationship off the back of a previous project, we sat down with founders Dale & Dan to discuss the project requirements. From their extensive catalogue of sportspeople, we soon had our athletes; Ben Matsuka-Williams, Jess Hunter, Dylan Gee & Hannah England.

Next was locations: another character in themselves. As a company that cut it’s teeth in documentary filmmaking and using the world around you as your ‘set’, we never undervalue the importance of good, versatile locations. With the help & expertise of Mana, we managed to secure a host of characterful locations, each with their own personality and colour palette. 

Josh soaking up the sun between takes.

Josh soaking up the sun between takes.

Director Adam surveying the bleak Welsh landscape on a location scout.

Director Adam surveying the bleak Welsh landscape on a location scout.

For Ben, the dusty red hues of the Crystal Palace athletics track, Jess Hunter pumped iron in the iconic Repton Boxing Club, Dylan smashed aces in the urban jungle of the Barbican and Hannah England battled fiercely against the elements in the Snowdonia mountain range. 

Shooting over five days in September 2018, production captured images with the Arri Alexa paired with Kowa Cine Prominar anamorphic lenses from Cameraworks, Shoreditch. DOP Josh Monie chose the anamorphic format because he ‘wanted to combine the gritty imperfections of the Kowas with the inherent “big-screen” feel of the widescreen aspect ratio’, a metaphor that mirrored the concept as a whole. 

Lighting was provided solely by the sun, with Josh using only bounce cards and negative fill to create shape in the images. Some ill-timed emergency roof repairs at the boxing club morphed into a happy accident when he asked the scaffolders to remove all but 3 boards over the club’s skylight, leaving the sun to filter through in sharp, narrow beams. The film was shot entirely handheld, adding to the gritty, ‘real’ aesthetic. 

Ben Matsuka-Williams with the 15,000 capacity Crystal Palace track all to himself.

Ben Matsuka-Williams with the 15,000 capacity Crystal Palace track all to himself.

Jess Hunter catches her breath in the iconic Repton Boxing Club.

Jess Hunter catches her breath in the iconic Repton Boxing Club.

Ahead of the shoot days Director Adam spoke with each athlete to ensure that each of them were fully engaged with the idea and essence of the piece. It was in these initial conversations that he took the time to understand them, their sport and their training style.

This paid dividends when it came to the shoot, as both Adam & the talent were primed and ready to go from a creative standpoint. From there, Adam created scenarios with the athletes before letting them run the scene, allowing the moments play out and only jumping in quickly between takes to give feedback on movement or facial expressions. Crucially, Adam was aware he was working with sportspeople, not actors, and this dictated his style of direction throughout.

Instrumental to the project were Executive Producer Andy Redpath & Producer Indiana Russell from Mana. Andy worked closely with EI during the pre-production process whilst Indi was invaluable and hands-on throughout, although spent most of her time getting Adam & Josh back on schedule. 

Post production was completed in-house at Explore Impossible, including colour and finishing. The sound mix was handled by Daniel Jaramillo at Soundnode, who brought a whole new level of immersion and engagement through his work. 

You can watch the completed ad below.