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Autotrader ad is officially our spot

Super excited to announce that Autotrader USA have chosen my commercial spot, ‘Find the car you love‘ as the winning entry in their international competition. First prize is $10,000 (USD) and, I’m pleased to say, the cheque is already in the mail! It’s probably the most I’ve ever won in a competition and we were sharing a bottle of champagne on the evening of the announcement!

It was a Katherine Jenkins music video win last month and now this! Good start to 2012 is what I say! When I think back to Duran Duran, how much time, effort and money was pumped into that project only to come out runners up with no purse on offer! Yet both of these recent winning projects were last minute and done on the fly with a skeleton crew – Oh, the irony!

I suppose it just goes to show that you can produce  something short and sweet and, if well-executed, could land you the big prize! I recall sitting across a table over a pint with a friend, who I told my Autotrader concept to the night before I shot it… Raised eyebrows, ‘Hugging cars?!’ – Okay, well I had a completely different other idea in mind that felt better, but I just didn’t have the time or the capacity/resources to shoot that one. Hugging cars was second best, but I could shoot it all in one day and edit it the next… After all, I only had 48 hours before the competition closed! And so as it turns out, probably the most profitable 48-hours of my life!

For those of you interested in the technical details. The spot was shot entirely on the Canon 60D with various primes (I can’t remember which ones I used, but please look at my kit inventory to see what I have in there). I used the Steadicam for one or two shots, the sticks for one or two also – The rest was handheld. Now, I’m not normally a fan of handheld, but it did work with this particular assignment. The nice thing about handheld is it gives the audience a very voyeuristic feel in my opinion. That is exactly what is happening in this spot, we’re very much peering into other people’s lives. We’re driving past them, staring, looking on from behind branches etc. Then we go up close and personal on nearly every actor in stages to invade that personal feeling of the love they feel for their car. And with the right music and some nice lens flares there just might be an emotional connection there.

Loving the car you choose is a very personal affair and the hope was that the viewer might find an emotional connection with that – Which was exactly Autotrader’s brief. Since the last couple of wins, I get asked a lot for advice on how to go about these competitions. The best advice I can give is to read the client’s brief. After you’ve read it, read it again. Read it over and over until you’ve digested every point, because the clues are in there. They’ve done their research, they know what they want (or at least they think they do!) – Try to give them what they want. If they need a clip to be emotional, go and find music that has the emotion in it. Whether it be slow and passionate, or up-tempo and dynamic with lots of energy.

Competitions like these are a great way to fill a gap and land yourself with a windfall at decent odds – without stretching anywhere close to the odds that a lottery ticket offers. And best of all, in the UK, competition wins are tax free! I know because I checked to be sure! Go out and be creative!

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