1997 I made my first ever TV commercial, or more precisely three short (10 seconds) ads for Nottinghamshire Constabulary to be shown in the East Midlands Area to help recruit Special Constables. Originally conceived as a Local Cinema ad analysis showed that local TV had a massively greater reach, 10 times +. The 10 second format is not a normal advertising spot length but Carlton’ Andy Smallwood did us a great airtime deal and the 10 sec spot was judged as valid if you want to reach viewers who are alert. My first ever cine film shoot shot on an Aarton camera using fuji super 16mm film. I took over 3 months to develop the treatment, during which time I went out on patrol with specials out of Beeston Nick, filming them in a reality style that had not emerged yet. I was concerned with veracity and particularly didn’t want to portray specials as anything untrue so all the scenarios were chosen from events that had actually happened to specials. After showing specials dealing with lost children and fallen old ladies I was accused of making them look like social workers in uniform, so the third spot had to show specials making an arrest. For police we used real specials both in civvies in their day jobs (on video) and also in uniform (on film). That left three special roles to cast, Kitty Scopes (from Peak Practice) played the old lady to perfection, Colin Manchester (from the junior television workshop) played the twooker ‘like a boss’ and the little lost boy was Jed Cannon (from Steve & Debbie, his parents) Jed knew me quite well and at four just didn’t seem to be able to look lost and unhappy, despite the make up girl dabbing his face with water for tears and me hiding his parents behind my land rover. After 20 mins of no shot we decided to get nasty, so I told him that the batman ride at Morrisons was broken and that did the trick, loss. uncertainty & sorrow all played across his face and we got busy, 30 seconds later we brought out his parents told him we were only joking about Morrisons for the relieved look on his face, with the special constable, shot. Jed’s special was a milk tanker driver, The special with the old lady (Kitty) was a lifeguard at a seaside resort in Wales (he also worked in an office in Nottingham but Wales looked more heroic), and the receptionist was an inspector rank special who had really caught a car thief red handed in a large city car park after a stake out.
The animated police badge was modelled in 3d (using infiniD) then ray traced out and composited with a photoshop lens flare. The whole project was also my first non linear edit using Media 100. Provideo in Leeds supplied the cine camera, Film labs north did the d&p, YTV did the telecine and grade with me trying not to interfere, and we did the rest. About a dozen crew plus actors on the cine shoot day across three city locations. Glen Worrilow was DoP, Jake Shaw was 1st assistant Director (shouty man), Domonic Shaw was art department and all were very drunk in the Poacher that night, even me. Although I had faith in this untried concept the real test was recruitment, at the end of a brief campaign the police had over 200 applications and that pleased them. Interestingly even if the ad spot was in the early hours someone would call up and enquire within seconds!