Darling Films’ Breaking Ballet on Pointe at Cannes 2018
Fresh (and slightly hung-over) from their big win for South Africa at The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, we go behind the scenes with Darling Films on their #BreakingBallet campaign. TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris and The Joburg Ballet partnered with the team of Darling directors and entrusted them with rapid turnaround times solely dependent on concepts inspired by trending online topics. This unique eleventh-hour approach to production proved that when it comes to creative work, you want to partner with the Darlings and get their whole team working on your boards!
Breaking Ballet consists of 8 online videos created and released over a period of 9 months… yup, that’s the same time it takes to have a baby, and Darling Producers Melina McDonald and Lorraine Smit loved this campaign as much as a child! Still glowing, they broke down the process: ‘During the campaign the amazing creatives at TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris continuously tapped into Twitter to find out what was trending. These themes included everything from Game of Thrones to violence against women. The agency would then contact us and partner with a director who was available at the time and best suited to each theme. Furthermore, the agency allowed the director to have his/her individual vision shine through and give them the creative freedom to interpret the theme. The success was a common vision shared by everyone involved in the creative work, even though each episode had a different director.’
Bringing Ballet to the Streets – No Holds Barred!
Each Darling Director had only two days for pre-production, treatment, location scouting, wardrobe, and just a 2 hour rehearsal with the dancers…if they were lucky! They then each had only half a day to shoot. Talk about doing whatever it takes! Ballet really isn’t for sissies!
But don’t just take our word for it. The campaign bagged a GOLD in ‘Entertainment’ and a SILVER in the category ‘Creative Data Lions’ at this year’s Cannes Lions. Also, has there ever been one South African production house wining GOLD and SILVER with FOUR different directors?! (We don’t actually know the answer to this, but we’re damn impressed). Just look at Darling Director Jeana on stage at Cannes proudly holding up photos of the creative team back home. We had all the feels!
Peter Khoury, Chief Creative Officer at TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, had this to say: ‘Teaming up with a production company like Darling was crucial. We needed a wide range of talented directors that have different points of view and approaches to filmmaking. This is what gave Breaking Ballet a distinctive aesthetic, a range of storytelling styles that differed from film to film and also managed to evoke a wide range of emotions.’
Oh, and here’s what some of the top industry leaders had to say about the campaign in this year’s iDidTht Cannes Predictions that were released just before Cannes week…which they predicted correctly #LikeAboss
‘This campaign will definitely see me giving ballet a chance. The concepts are so fresh and relevant, the executions well crafted. I love the fact that it moves Ballet from its colonial heritage and makes it socially relevant to everyone. Dope!’ – Neo Mashigo, CCO of M&C Saatchi Group.
‘I love that these #BreakingBallet films take ballet out of the theatre and into our real, gritty world. It turns the whole lofty, privileged, inaccessibility of the ballet world upside down. It’s about time we celebrated South African artists and showcased our world-class talent in a way that gets spoken about at dinner tables.’ – Suhana Gordhan, Loeries Chairperson and Creative Director at FCB Joburg.
A Word from the Darlings Directors
The execution relied heavily on a clear creative idea, powerful craft and of course a company of highly skilled, agile and diverse Darling Directors who were called upon unexpectedly whenever a new brief for an episode came in. And we don’t even wanna think about how the production teams had to tap dance (yeah, they can probably tap too) to make this project possible!
#BreakingBallet ‘No. 1 – Game of Thrones’
#BreakingBallet ‘No.8 – Africa Forever’
Jeana’s #BreakingBallet for Game of Thrones and Black Panther bookended the campaign and made for interesting challenges and learnings. With GOT Jeana briefed the dancers that they would need to workshop the plot of the series with 7 dancers, using only a chair and Joburg city as the backdrop.
Jeana: ‘GOT was the first one and we didn’t even know if it would go beyond that. We had literally three days for the whole production and we all went in blind. As we watched the dance and started choreographing the camera, we knew we needed to do it in one-take.’ One take guys! One take!
Jeana: ‘Later we started using clothing to help tell our stories. For Black Panther, filmed at The Cradle of Humankind, the wardrobe and location was incredibly important and started speaking to the idea.’
#BreakingBallet ‘No. 2 – Mayweather vs McGregor‘
#BreakingBallet ‘No. 3 – Woman’s Month’
Both Director Ross’s episodes were released during Women’s Month and both were shot at Constitution Hill… On. The. Same. Day!
Ross: ‘We literally had one afternoon at Joburg Ballet to rehearse with our dancers. They choreographed it very quickly, like in an hour or two. Look, they are so skilled though, but bear in mind this was all done in-between their rehearsals for upcoming shows. You put a lot of trust in them, but when you work with such a bunch of incredibly talented people you have to trust and just run with it.’
Ross: ‘With the McGregor-Mayweather Fight we wanted to catch the essence of each of the characters who are obviously quite dominant. Having the fighters as women was also a cool contrast in terms of the environment.’
#BreakingBallet ‘No. 4 – Joburg Pride Festival’
#BreakingBallet ‘No. 5 – Rain Dance’
#BreakingBallet ‘No. 7 – Copy Cat’
With the Cape Town Water Crisis having become a major concern for the entire country, Rain Dance, shot on location at the near-empty Theewaterskloof Dam, was an important reminder of the value of water. Director Chloe explains that Rain Dance was inspired by Queen Modjadji of the Balobedu people, influencing everything from the wardrobe, dance, mirrors and colours.
Chloe: ‘I knew I wanted to start with our dancer rising up and then suddenly she did that thing on her points and I was like WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPAPAPAPAAAA that is unbelievable! Then I wanted her to conjure the elements and I did some bird-eye angles, using the mirrors. And lastly I wanted to use the drone, not gratuitously, but rather to accentuate a powerful ending, almost a prayer toward the sky.’
Chloe on Gun Violence: ‘I could only meet with my cast the morning of the shoot, haha! I knew I really wanted a story and a relationship between the two. I suggested we deconstruct this episode because at that stage I felt we’d proven that ballet is cool and I wanted to morph into some other styles of performance a bit and maybe even take it further.’
Zee: ‘When I found out my location was a supermarket and I had to use a cabbage, I thought wow, that’s gonna be a challenge.’
#BreakingBallet ‘No. 6 – JanuWorry’
Not only could we totally relate to the #JanuWorry feels, but we loved the stylised feel of this episode. Zee explains that the supermarket and camera both acted as his performer’s dance partners. He wanted the camera to move with the dancer, which is why he shot on a steadicam and the supermarket itself became a dynamic character in the piece.
Zee: ‘We wanted the entire location to be lit by the lighting within the supermarket only. We wanted the space to feel the way our character feels. It’s not that bright sunshine day of December, it’s that grim bleak time of being broke and depressed. We could only have the dancers for half a day and it was a manic rush because we had a lot to cover. The choreographer and dancer only got in on THAT day!’
There is so much more we can say about these sexy directors, but word count is not on our side. Why not click on over to their new refreshed website for more or just go for a gentle stalk, it’s worth it.
The Breaking Ballet Campaign proved that not only can culture move with the times and be relevant but also that those Darling Directors move just a little bit faster! Why choose your favourite Darling Director when you can have all of them working on your project to create something truly relevant, kickass and award-worthy! So while they’re busy polishing their Lions, we’re off to book our tickets for the ballet.
*Melina and Lorraine insisted on giving a massive shout-out to the whole production team that made this magic happen, but we said ‘look you’re already sitting at 1461 words so we’re just gonna list them’:
TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris: Peter Gabriel Khoury, Rui Alves, Jenny Glover, Kabelo Moshapalo, Nikki Taylor Garrett, Jeff Tyser, Debbie Pienaar, Sandra Gomes & Biotumelo Rabosiwana.
Suppliers: Media Film Service JHB, The Upstairs Ludus, Joe Erasmus, Mark Ash, James O’Sullivan, Left Post Productions, Evy Katz, Markus, Wormstorm & David Law.
Joburg Ballet Dancers: Ian McDonald, Kitty Phetla, Claudia Monja Goedes, Nicole Ferreira, Monike Christina, Shana Dewey, Cristina Nakos, Laurence Corbett, Ruan Goldino, Mahlatse Sachane, Sergei Martinet, Alice Le Roux, Monique de Souza, Ntando Mhlanga, Thabang Mabaso
Actor: Lamar Bonhamme.
Darling Team: Melina McDonald, Lorraine Smit, Jeana Theron-Khoury, Ross Garrett, Chloe Coetsee & Zee Ntuli.
Wardrobe Stylist/Art Direction: Melissa Jayne Maxted & Chantel Carter.
DOP’s: Devin Toselli, Adam Joshua Bentel, Willie Nel & Micheal Cleary.
Darling Production Support: Saskia Finlayson Gupffert, Lindsay-Jane Barnard, Mmameyi Mapule Mphahlele, Allan Glogauer, Zuko Nqoro, Anastasia Tsobanopulos, Liz Dahl, Gale Maimane & Unathi Bianca Mdiya.
Produced by the iDidTht Content Studio
Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder
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