Tim Bullock 1.4 Interview On New Work For NZ Lotto
Ruffian director Tim Bullock comes up with this beauty for NZ Lotto – a heist based on a true story of a Kiwi who won the top dollar draw of several grillions and kept his promise to go 50/50 with his fellow armoured truck driver.
What was the brief like when you first read it? Did you know you wanted to make it immediately?
Every couple of years a script comes along that you know you just have to do. One that you instinctively know will swing your work in another direction. One that you go a little mad over when you’re pitching because the thought of not getting the job just becomes impossible to stomach. This was one of those scripts. I think I shouted across the office “We’ve got to do this!” to Adrian my EP before I had finished reading the script. All the essential ingredients and beats were there in the brief but like any great script there was plenty of room for the director to interpret the tone and story. I’ve been itching to show that I can tell dramatic stories and break the shackles that comedy work can sometimes impose on you (not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy comedy). I knew this spot would have a lot of heart but also be an emotional roller coaster ride. I even crashed a dinner that Damon Stapleton (ECD) was having with Justin Mowday (CEO) to tell them “I have to do this job!”. As I said, sometimes you go a little mad.
It’s based on a true story, but were the mates really security guards?
Yes, the script is based on a true story of a Kiwi bloke who won $15 million, honoured a promise made long ago, and went halves with his mate. Tasked with bringing that to life, the creatives Mike Felix and Brett Colliver were sitting in a dairy and noticed two Armoured Truck drivers both sitting at a table eating lunch and yarning to each other. If my memory serves me correctly, one or both of them were Indian Kiwis. That was how that all came about. Armoured cars by their very nature are fascinating. With so much money being transported inside, there’s just always an air of potential danger and it was a brilliant conceit for this spot.
The script is even better because of the characters – how did you go about
a) deciding on the nationalities
The nationalities (which are very true to modern day NZ) were written into the script and that was something that really appealed to me. It was the oddness of this couple in terms of their age and ethnicity that painted an immediate and compelling contrast and enamoured me further to the script. One of the first things the creatives and I did was settle on a strong back story for how they came to be working together, what their shared interests were (cricket was a no brainer) and how they would come to honour an agreement to share millions 50/50. The audience had to buy this relationship and these characters for the spot to work.
b) finding the cast?
We knew that casting and the plausibility of the characters would make or break the commercial and that finding that calibre of performer in NZ alone would be tough. So Stu Turner at Catch Casting NZ and Joe Winjanco at I4 Casting in Australia were both tasked with finding our guys. Ray ended up being found in Napier and Sateesh was from Melbourne. We did something like 3 or 4 rounds of callbacks, mixing and matching people, in Sydney, Wellington, Auckland and Melbourne. Thankfully the agency and client were very patient and knew we needed to go to these lengths to find the magic combination.
Was it a straight forward production – any major challenges? (Can’t have been, you had the best producer in the world!!).
The biggest challenge with production was that for the spot to feel real and visceral, we had to shoot the entire thing in truck moving through the streets of Auckland and – just to make producer, Alice Grant’s life that little more difficult – on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Of course, when we bid the job we had no idea that three quarters of Auckland would be shut down due to road works and Christmas parades. We were also unaware that we would need to build our Armoured Truck from scratch and have it road worthy. Spare parts were arriving from Germany literally the day before the shoot. Guy Treadgold the production designer never broke a sweat. Interestingly enough, because with hindsight it is impossible to imagine the spot without them, the visual cutaways to the dispatch radio room were a very late addition to the shoot (We had originally intended to only have dispatch as an audio element) and full credit to Alice and the production team for pulling that together with such short notice.
And when are you coming to London? a) to work b) to take me out for more scones?
I’ll hopefully be over before June for work but I can try to get there earlier for the scones.
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