Your Shot: Behind the Scenes With Director Dylan Harrison On The Cheeky Cook Islands Campaign
The inviting campaign featured entirely local talent, including two local twelve year-old boys, Teio and Maki. 'Katukanga' is the name in Cook Island Maori for 'cheeky boys'. The pair presents a selection of the top reasons to come to the Cook Islands, through their eyes.
The films were shot with a gorilla-style crew around the islands using local talent, including the musicians, whose music was recorded in make shift studios.
Here Dylan Harrison catches up with LBB to discuss the making of paradise.
LBB> As the characters are so vital to the campaign, what was the audition process like? Challenges like finding the boys and Brian? Is he for real?
Dylan Harrison> In real life, Cook Islanders love to laugh, are playful and don’t take themselves, or life, too seriously. They really march to a different beat and like to show off. In making a film to capture this essence, we knew right from the start we had to use real Cook Islanders and do a mix of street casting and auditions. We found the boys by doing open auditions at schools all around the island. We literally called for ‘cheeky boys’ to come and try out. There were some real characters but the two we chose just worked so well as a double act. Brian we met at the local market. Such a dude. The only wardrobe we added was a ‘Happy 21st’ badge.
LBB> How long was the shoot and what were the conditions like doing gorilla style filming?
DH> We shot everything over five days, although we only shot for a couple of hours each morning and night to get the best light. There’s only 12,000 people on the island and everyone is so friendly. So location moves were really easy and we could pretty much shoot where we liked. Although we shot guerrilla style, there’s no way it would have been twice as good at twice the budget!
LBB> What was it like collaborating with DOP Matt Stewart? Did you guys map out a plan on how to best capture the essence of the people and the island’s natural beauty?
DH> I’ve worked with Matt before in a similar way, where we ‘run and gun’. I push him to get as much as we can and he pushes me to compose the best shots and maintain the quality of what we capture. Everything works well because he’s such a skilled DOP and we just have a laugh.
I had storyboarded every second of the story and we’d scouted all of the locations at the time of day we were to shoot, so we knew when the best light would be in each place. It meant that when we came to shoot we were comfortable to change it up if a better way presented itself.
LBB> Why did you choose to have the musicians recording music in the make shift studios on locations?
DH> The Cook Islands sound is so unique, we really wanted to capture it and have it as part of the final product. The drumming was recorded in a basketball gym at a local dance troupe practice, recording it was a bucket list experience in itself. There’s no way we could’ve recreated that sound anywhere else. At the beginning of the practice someone spoke on behalf of the entire village to say what an honour it was to help tourism with their music, although it was us who were humbled in the moment.
LBB> Did Filmgraphics Entertainment work on the campaign direct to client?
DH> Yes we did. I have 20 years of writing in advertising behind me, so in this situation it worked well that the client could brief me directly and be involved with the same team every step of the process. I think it's part of why the end result is so authentic to who they are. It was very collaborative.
LBB> By quite literally telling the story of the "teenagers of the pacific", have you managed to stand out in the competitive (but often predictive) holiday destination travel market?
DH> We certainly think so! There are still the ‘codes’ of Pacific destination advertising there… the white sandy beaches, the palm trees… but by leading with a distinctive personality, tonally it's very different from most of the competition. What’s more, it focuses on the people there, rather than the tourists enjoying themselves. At a recent tourism trade show, all the other countries were asking for a copy of it because they all loved it so much.
LBB> Great that the client was open to unique storytelling leading the way. How did Filmgraphics Ent. sell in the campaign idea?
DH> We began from quite a strategic position of trying to land a unique personality and tone of voice, as the messaging around ‘paradise’ is so generic. Because of the low awareness of The Cook Islands they have to educate people on who and where they are, so we looked for a way to tell a straight story in an interesting way. The client actually bought the idea when it was just a one paragraph concept as they loved it so much. Having such a supportive relationship from the start was just a great environment for creativity.
LBB> Having captured the world’s best little paradise, how on earth did you leave?
DH> The good news is the client has had such overwhelmingly positive feedback from the campaign that they want to make more films in the campaign. Usually any tourism campaign comes under a lot of criticism from the local industry, but everyone has got right behind it and it crying out for more. Oh well, it looks like we might just have to drag ourselves out to the ‘wonder of a little paradise’ for more production… it’d be rude not to, right?
Category: Holiday , Travel
Genre: Comedy , Storytelling