The annual pre-Christmas television ad for UK retail giant John Lewis is tugging at viewers’ heartstrings with the help of Kiwi production expertise and slices of NZ itself.
The tvc features a flock of merino sheep, six-year-old NZ actress Georgia Haskell, a historic Otago miner’s cottage, central Auckland cityscapes transformed to look like London in winter and some quintessential South Island high country scenery – as a substitute for rural Britain.
Called The Journey, the $11.5 million production was created by adam&eveDDB and UK producer Blink, which used Auckland-based Robber’s Dog for five days’ filming in downtown Auckland and the South Island in July – the northern hemisphere summer.
Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development’s sector team Film Auckland facilitated the production’s local requirements.
Film Auckland manager Michael Brook says the John Lewis TVC is another example of Auckland attracting overseas productions due to its screen industry’s expertise and easy access to an outstanding range of adaptable and relevant locations around NZ.
“It is exciting to have major and influential exposure for local companies such as Robber’s Dog, which have world-class skills and a Kiwi can-do attitude on shoots which impresses international producers.”
Robber’s Dog exec producer Mark Foster said: “It’s brilliant the TVC has been so well received by so many. It was a pleasure working with Blink and adam&eve, and an honour to be able to introduce them to the best of NZ’s film industry.”
Caz Hearn, Robber’s Dog line producer says the story required snowy landscapes, a British-looking house and shopping street.
“Our fantastic location scouts Clayton Tikao & David Walker were able to find all of this from Auckland & Queenstown. A mild winter and freak rain meant all the lovely snow we saw on the recce was noticeably absent on the shoot. Thanks to the local expertise of our art department, and special effects and technicians, we managed to fill in the gaps,” says Caz Hearn.
“We were also able to find the perfect ‘hero’ girl locally. Georgia Haskell was discovered after a long and intensive search. She did a great job and is testament to the depth of talent we have in NZ.”