British boiler company BOXT and agency McCann have launched a new campaign, featuring a voice over from acting legend Brian Cox, which offers a hopeful perspective on the cost of living crisis. Directed by Great Guns’ Calum Macdiarmid, the spot acknowledges the worry that many face around energy bills, but remains confident in the British public to keep a cool head during tough times.
With no visual script on hand, director Calum Macdiarmid worked from the poetic voice over to craft this call to arms, striving to make a film with a deep sense of authenticity that viewers could relate to. Using a mixed media approach, the spot blends 16mm film with HD, phone, and stock footage. Such an aesthetic was key for Calum who, having made a number of films on his phone before and during lockdown, felt like the truthfulness of the medium was vital to the campaign’s message. Juxtaposing phone footage with high quality shots not only gave the film an editorial feel, but added a texture to the spot that, in combination with the stock footage, took on a sense that something was occurring all over Britain.
A key consideration throughout production was striking the perfect tone during the film, especially considering the sensitive nature of the topic. Acutely aware that they didn’t want to use fear to sell the product, the team understood that in order to level with the British public, the current situation had to be acknowledged. As such, the decision was made to begin the film with a reference to the cost of living crisis before focusing on the idea of hope - which was explored in abstract visual terms.
Working to a tight 15-day schedule from go ahead to air date, Calum submitted the treatment 24 hours after being briefed. Casting and location scouting began the next day, whilst Calum also worked on a mood film with Stitch editor Charlie Reddie ahead of the shoot. This method enabled the team to make quick decisions in relation to the shot list, music and pace, and gauge how overt the messaging needed to be. By the time they reached the edit, they were able to slot shots in quickly for a seamless process.
Calum Macdiarmid comments: “My personal highlight of working on this campaign was collaborating with the great Brian Cox for the voice over. I remember pushing my luck and asking if we ‘could we get one more read for safety?’ to which he replied ‘well I could do but it would be very boring!’ which was completely true as he had totally smashed it on the first read... and he knew it. Working with talent of that scale elevated the film so much and it was great to see it in person.”