In 2017 we received some accolades from the industry we love so much. In April we won gold for ‘best branded documentary’ and ‘best of the best’ at the Brand Film Festival for our film ‘Anthony’s Story’ shot for the RNLI. Then in July we received an oficial honoree mention at the 21st Webbys for the same film which although wasn’t an award in itself it still made us super proud and happy. We also had the honour to go up the stage at the Lovie Awards to receive ‘Gold’ and ‘People’s choice’ for Stephanie’s Story’ shot for the HM Government/Home Office and ‘Silver’ for our independent short documentary ‘Globe of Death’.
Our entire team works incredibly hard on each project we are part of and to receive such honours is a sign all the sweat and smiles (never tears) resulted in strong, powerful films. With that said, awards are quite interesting. We work in an industry where validation is important. Film is an art form, and although we can argue that advertising is not, quality and excellence can be many times subjective. Validation brings credibility, opens doors and helps everyone that are not brave enough to be the first to say ‘that is actually really good’ into being comfortable saying it. After all, how many times have we caught ourselves in a meeting feeling the stillness of the air and a deafening silence when everyone is waiting for the first brave soul to go ‘this is amazing!’ for only then subsequently the whole room to follow.
As you push things in a different direction, out of the constraints of what is expected, it becomes harder to judge technical and creative prowess if you don’t have courage. Awards won’t solve the problem, they themselves sometimes seek validation and are not clear in their judgement, but for the good or bad , they do help us thread through the subjectivity of our artistic world.
Time is running out.
It literally was as we had only 1 month to shoot a 5 film campaign for Casio in 3 cities; Los Angeles, Tokyo and London.
The creative team at Autobahn developed the concept, which encapsulated the idea that we all have precious seconds to live and have to make the most of this so called life. Nothing illustrates the idea of wearing a watch better than talking about time itself, its finite quality (we only have so much of it for ourselves) and its infinity too, after all, the world doesn’t stop spinning after we stop existing. I am on a deep philosophical mindset, but fear not, as it is a positive one.
The concept had us telling the stories of 4 men, that through adversity and struggle conquered their space and built a life where at its core resides what they love doing. In a time where financial success and achievement is overly valued we wanted to shine a light on what comes before – hard work and failed attempts. We wanted to tell stories that could empower those who are going through hardship and that would inspire people to keep pushing, believe in themselves and follow their passions.
From that idea, our creative team wrote a manifesto for the campaign that would then become the driving force behind the concept and the powerful narration, stitching the main film together and setting the tone for the documentaries. (See the full Manifesto text below)
Through an in-depth casting process in 3 cities we settled on 4 characters for our film.
Gary Powel – Gary is an incredibly successful drummer. He is part of The Libertines, an important band of the early 2000s (you are living under a rock if you don’t know them), has played with The New York Dolls and plays currently with The Specials (as well as with The Libertines). All legendary bands in their own right which shows how lucky we were to have him part of this project.
Zachary Wohlman – Zach was taken under the wings of Freddie Roach, perhaps the best boxing coach ever (no joke). He has trained Julio Cesar Chavez, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, George St Pierre amongst others. Zach has had a great start of his career only to be diverted by some personal problems. He is now coming back and we are certain he will make some noise.
Ben Wood – Ben is a badass. He is an ex Royal Marine, Muay Thai pro fighter and coach and nowadays he thinks it is a good idea to go run ultra marathons in the mountains. At the time of filming he was training to run a 100km race and he was not flinching, he was hungry for it. The guy always finds the physical and character strength to keep moving, a literal translation to Casio’s tagline ‘Never Give Up’.
Seiichiro Asuke – Seiichiro is a master craftsman. He builds motorcycles, furniture and lives an honest and beautiful life in Tokyo. He has managed to channel his personalities into what he makes. It all feels that comes from him, from the things he lived and loved. Seiichiro has a punk DIY quality that resonates very much with what ‘Never Give Up’ is about. To bend the world to you and not to bend yourself to the world.
Our time with each of these characters was a rich experience. They all had something to contribute to the project and mostly to teach us about life. None of them talks more than they walk, they set example by action and to see them doing it is inspiring. When you turn your camera to a good subject, it’s hard to fuck it up, everything feels like a tetris game where each piece comes perfectly timed to fit in that gap and you progress without a sweat. Don’t get me wrong, each crew member in this project have put buckets of sweat into it, but when you work on a campaign where the elements and subjects are right, the sweat comes as part of a joyous process.
Everyone gave their all, client, cast and crew and we thank them for it.
If you want to read the full Manifesto text, here it is:
“The countdown starts when you are born.
I wish I heard that as soon as I opened my eyes,
when my lungs first filled with air.
There was time before us, and there will be time after us.
But what you do with the rare seconds you are given depends only on you.
Someone once said:
‘The day you give up on your dreams,
is the day you give up on yourself.
You might have stumbled epically, but be proud.
Do what you cant.
Go where you aren’t allowed.
Be who they told you could never be.
No one ever tells you to fail,
but here I stand whispering in your ear…go fail.
Raise your head.
Never give up”
We are only selling watches here, point given, but the experience of making this campaign is human, made by humans and telling real human stories. Watch or no watch, people will connect and be inspired and that’s advertising doing a better job amidst not so noble endeavours.
Shot on the RED with anamorphic lenses in Tokyo, Los Angeles and the U.K.
Below is a short behind the scenes film of our adventures. We like glossy images but we are also a sucker for vintage lo-fi textures.
Words by Pedro de la Fuente
Tattoo artist João Bosco has been on Autobahn’s radar for a while now. We first saw his work 6 years ago so we started to follow him on social media. What stood out to us wasn’t only his amazing drawing and tattooing skills but how he creates pieces that seem to wrap the body almost in a beautiful dialogue with its own curves. More often than not you would see someone that has never been tattooed having a full suit done by João. The trust and amount of devotion one must have when doing a body suit is enormous, but when someone that has never been tattooed gives themselves to a daunting process like that, something truly special is happening.
As Autobahn and João are both based in London we used to bump into each other around town. Chat would flow and we ended up getting to know the guy.
With documentaries there is a fine line between a filmmaker forcing themselves into the subject or letting the subject come to them. You should always thread carefully and respectfully as you are about to enter someone’s life. No matter what they imagine you will do, it always takes them by surprise when the crew show up and enter their world (metaphorically speaking).
After awhile João called us. He was very complimentary of our work and went on to say he was releasing a book and thought maybe we could do something together to celebrate its launch. We are always looking for a good opportunity to explore new themes and visual concepts. We do get to create great films commercially but there is sometimes a certain restrain, after all we are speaking on behalf of a brand and not always a lot of risk is allowed. This is what made us jump wholeheartedly into João’s world.
There would be no holding back.
When developing a project like this you have to respect the years of craft and control someone like João has over his own work. It would be naive to think he would let anyone create something that appropriates what he has so carefully carved without some accountability. However that is the role of the director, to take someone through the process of creation, gain their trust and understand who they are filming in order to make the film they own as much as his client/subject’s.
We don’t film much for ourselves therefore any time we do it has to be right. We have to feel our hearts and minds are into it and that the film is an extension or progression of our style.
As any project we embark on we created a visual document that would serve as a style guide to us and also a reference to what the film could become to João. A document like that allows everyone to communicate, to dialogue with tangible elements to reference to. For us this is key to get a vision from our heads into the screen.
After seeing the first visual document João was very positive and we could feel him relaxing and letting his fears go. We had established trust so now it was all a matter of getting the pieces in place to get the job done.
We started approaching crew and luckily everyone said yes. Luke Jacobs, an incredible DOP that has worked with us before on TVCs came into the project early and with an incredible vision. The film looks beautiful and we owe a lot of that to him. We also had our good friend and music composer Russ Chimes agreeing to score the film, Jim Bracher at The Mill agreed to the grade and Alex Bingham at Final Cut bringing his chops as sound designer and mixer. And not to forget Jenny Dee, getting her hands very dirty as Production Designer, and a whole load of crew and suppliers who helped us on this labour of love.
It is very humbling to have so many talented people on your side. It’s a testament to a project that from the start had a strong and unique concept and that had space for everyone to shine. And shine they all did. Every element in this film is dear to us and has honestly pushed the film to become better.
We are sure João did not imagine that phone call would roll into such a powerful and stunning piece and we are also sure he doesn’t regret it one bit. From us, we can only say his work deserves no less and that we are the ones fortunate enough to go down this road exploring directions unknown to us and expanding our creativity.
What an amazingly interesting world we inhabit. Life is beautiful in all its imperfections.
Watch the film here.
One of the best parts of film making is the possibility of opening a door into any subject or universe, live in that world for a time, experiencing it, observing it thoroughly and then carving that experience into a film which will last forever.
Every film we make takes us on a unique journey. We have to learn about our subject, about the place where the story is set, about the craft we are filming. We have to become experts on every detail that makes the film.
When we decided to make a film about a daredevil motorcyclist that rode the Globe of Death we had no idea where that door would lead us. When you start to research for a film project it always feels a little daunting. You have no idea what to expect, if there is even a film to be made or not.
We knew the subject would look stunning visually so we wanted to find a thread, a story which would bind it all together.
Most of the Globe of Death teams come from South America, originally we even thought about the possibility of shooting there but we came across Lucius and his team in the UK and it seemed promising. We only needed to find the story.
We first met Lucius in a coffee shop in London. He had just prepped for one of his shows and was having a break before going on. We introduced ourselves and got chatting about his craft. He has an incredible calm rhythm. Walks slowly, speaks with confidence, as if he isn’t going anywhere. As if he is where he should be. At first our chat was quite superficial, he told us he has being riding in the Globe for over 40 years and that he believes in hard work, safety first and that he has come a long way from when he started.
As we chatted he kept mentioning how safety was his number one priority. He has witnessed teams that take too many risks, and his main responsibilities was the safety of his team mates and keeping them injury free.
When you watch someone riding the Globe of Death you can see it is a dangerous sport, but you can’t fathom how dangerous it can actually be unless you have been inside one.
Lucius seemed very cautious for a daredevil. We knew there was something that had made him become that way, that perhaps he has seen or lived through events that changed how he performs, aware of the extent of the dangers he exposes himself, his riders and his wife to every night (she is also part of the act).
We asked “So how many accidents have you had in your life?”
He replied “I don’t know, too many.”
“How many bones have you broken?”
He laughed; “All of them”
It sounded like there was a story waiting to be told.
‘Globe of Death’ was premiered on Nowness and also chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick. You can watch it by clicking here.
When the plane was accelerating along the runaway and the orange glow from the sun setting washed the whole scene, we knew this was going to be a special take off. As we took to the sky the far away landscape revealed itself, it was stunning. The Swiss alps stretched along the horizon with its white peaks looking over lake Geneva. We have just spent 5 days shooting for Cailler chocolate in and around the Gruyére region.
Surrounded by mountains it was filmmaking bliss. Misty mornings would turn into crisp sunny days, and then close with colourful sun downs. Mountains, waterfalls, forests and beautiful Swiss architecture provided us endless possibilities with how to tell the story we were there to capture. After all, we believe you can’t detach the human from the environment to which he/she belongs.
The human in case was Geraldine Müller Maras, possibly the best female chocolatier in the world. She has represented Switzerland in the world championships which consists of the participants creating a sculpture using only chocolate. The competitors skills are truly magnificent and their finished pieces look like it could have been carved in marble.
As usual the challenge is to find the person’s story, what lead them to where they are and what made them rise to the top of their field. A lot of the time this is something they don’t think about as usually their drive pushes them to look forward and carry on working, evolving.
It is always a pleasure for us to discover and peruse the life of people on top of their game. Through the years we found that there isn’t much difference between someone that is the best chocolatier in the world to a great tattooist in Sao Paulo for example. Of course their art might be very different, but their drive, focus, mindset, it is all very similar.
Geraldine is a product of her environment. She loves the mountains, being outdoors and being at one with nature. This allowed us to make the connection between her art and her surroundings, making the film bigger and bringing all the swiss bucolic nature into the film.
We shot this project using the RED EPIC and Kowa anamorphic lenses which gave the image a distinct ‘fable’ look, expressing the fantastical and creative aspects of Geraldine’s work. The drone shots where capture using the Inspire 1 with the X5r camera by the excellent @lightcoloursound team (a.k.a. the Boydell brothers).
The world never ceases to amaze us and on that sunset flight coming back home we were certain we had shot an incredible film.
The sea is a dangerous place sometimes. Many lives have been lost and a good day out by the beach can quickly turn into a sad day if people are not careful. Lad Bible (the media portal) approached Autobahn in order to create a campaign for the RNLI to bring awareness to young lads about the potential dangers of the sea. It sounded like a great project but we knew we would have to face some uncomfortable situations and dig into sad stories to achieve the level of honesty and relevancy we are always after on our projects.
The idea was to artistically tell the story of 3 different people that had an accident at sea through their own accounts or of their closest ones. 3 films, 3 powerful and compelling stories.
It is very rewarding to know you are part of a project that will bring a good message to people. Sure, it is also difficult, but perhaps a necessary discomfort, one that helps us grow as people and as filmmakers.
We wanted to create beautiful films with a cinematic aesthetic and language avoiding an overly sensationalist tone but still creating tension.The goal was to use the stories to make people think before they decide to go into the water.
To put the viewer into the the situations our characters once found themselves in and show how the sea can be threatening was key.
It was a very humbling experience to shoot people that have been deeply affected by recent events. You need tact, self awareness and a lot of respect, however you also need to get the material you need. The key is to make them feel comfortable and that they can share their story, that as a team you are there to work with them, at their pace. You need to develop a relationship of trust and almost friendship on set and that can’t be false, it has to be honest human connection. Also, you can’t hesitate, your doubt becomes their doubt and things can crumble if the trust dissipates.
We shot all stories at the subjects houses and towns. We visited the places where the accidents happened and created the stories around long and deep interviews. It is a delicate spot when someone trusts you with their grief. If we learned anything with this experience is that filmmaking can be a great way to explore our own psyche, talk about life changing events and even find closure.
One of our subjects even stopped us to mention how the filmmaking process was feeling quite liberating as he/she have not found the courage to talk about the story until we came into the picture.
We shot the whole series on RED cameras with Cooke anamorphic as our main lens set. We also used a DJI Inspire 1 RAW and Canon lens (on the RED) for the underwater housing used on the sea (The anamorphic just didn’t fit).
The project was graded at The Mill on Baselight and we managed to push the images to achieve our desired cinematic look even though this was a documentary project.
Cooke optics have reached out to us to praise us on the look of the films and will feature the series on their next reel and on their PR material going forward.
As a team we love working on different subjects but we can’t ever predict what the next project will be. You just have to remain curious and with a genuine interest in the human condition.
Film 1 (Anthony’s Story) will be showing on cinemas around the UK prior to the main movies.
You can watch the 3 films of the RNLI campaign here.
Autobahn (Pedro and James) have just been working alongside the folks at BBH and Unit in order to create a quite forward thinking project. It is basically a Bedtime story with a twist. Samsung commissioned BBH to create a Bedtimes story that could put parent and child in the same VR world. Unit created the actual VR story and we directed the film that illustrated how it all works.
To us it was already a no brainer when you know BBH and Unit are involved, but the most attractive aspect of the project was that for the first time we were witnessing VR used in a unique, practical and non gimmicky way.
VR has been all the rage lately but to us it is only in its infancy and there is a lot of projects that use VR that really don’t benefit from the tech.
In this case, if a parent is absent, he/she can tell a nice story and explore a world together with their child that is miles away at home. Putting two people that are apart in an adventure together.
For us the challenge was to capture the emotion kids and parents feel when they are together in this world. As well as of course showing the app, and get a few cute moments from our child star to melt everyone’s hearts.
Directing kids is a lot of fun, but it comes with so much unpredictabilities. They do what they do when they want to do it. But hey, when they bring their energy to the screen everything lights up. Kids and dogs are tough but they do draw in the viewers, well…and cats too!
We directed this film under Black Sheep, the in house production company at BBH. A well oiled production machine where we could realise our vision.
It was a pleasure working with the creatives at BBH and although the project had such high stakes, the sailing was pretty smooth and the result shows not only in the film but on the entire project execution.
Congrats to BBH, Unit, Black Sheep and us (wink wink). We hope we might see this in some festivals later in the year.
The seminal club brand Ministry of Sound commissioned us to create an exciting campaign for their newly released high end line of audio products. Having made its name from being a pioneer in the electronic music scene back in the early nineties, Ministry of Sound has always been renowned for the amazing quality of its club sound system. It is now putting this to the test by bringing that sound quality to your daily life.
We travelled around the world (London, Paris, Rio, New York, L.A., Ibiza, Delhi, Tokyo and Sydney) to create the campaign that will market the products. It’s an ambitious series of online films, print and a TVC. Shot in 9 cities and 5 continents around the world, the campaign will explore people’s relation to music.
Each city has a lead character that will reveal the unique way that part of the world or that particular character relates to music. Their dance, their inspiration, the sounds, all the elements will construct this blueprint that represents a slice of how the world experience music today.
We threw out all pre conceptions of what we wanted to find and allowed the individualities of each place direct us. Each different city, people and culture has its idiosyncrasies. The key is to keep a naive eye, to be prepared to adapt and embrace new scenarios. As outsiders we are more sensitive to details and scenes most locals take for granted. That’s the beauty of a campaign that takes us to new corners of the world.
To watch all the 9 stories click here.
Follow Autobahn on Instagram for live updates.
Autobahn’s new campaign for Sailor Jerry rum’s launch in Brazil is finally live. With a launch and screening party that happened in May in Sao Paulo (Brazil’s biggest city), the films received incredible local and international praise. The main film lives in a bespoke website that was created specifically for the launch and that explains the story behind the project and the film’s characters. You can have a look at the extent of the campaign by clicking here.
The site is in Portuguese but if you can’t understand Portuguese you can at least check all the craft that went into developing the project. Below you can watch the individual films created for each character that were used on all social media platforms in the build up to the main screening.
Custom motorcycle builder and helmet painter, Targino is a key figure in the Custom scene in Brazil.
Tor is the lead singer and songwriter of the Zumbis do Espaço, a very influential band of the underground scene in Brazil. Tor also owns 2 record labels (Thirteen Records and Metal Maximus) and plays an important role in Sao Paulo’s rock world.
Jack Records are reinventing and re invigorating the vinyl business in the country. They sell records from the trunk of 2 Ford Galaxy 500s and do that all over the place since they can literally drive their shop around.
Maria Fernando is a very talented tattoo artist heavily influenced by the work of Norman Collins (a.k.a. “Sailor Jerry’). She owns the studio Analogic love and has being tattoing for the last 13 years.
We have just come back from Sao Paulo, Brazil where we shot a fantastic promo for Sailor Jerry Rum. An incredibly vibrant city with amazing people and surreal landscapes. For now check out a few photos from the shoot.