A great article by 1.4 told from the vantage point of the director of the New Era commercial Kim Albright.
This amazing script comes through the door for New Era from the agency Exposure. It features two break-dancing twins, called Les Twins. I hadn’t heard of them so checked them out online. THEY ARE AMAZING! They are Larry and Laurent Bourgeois, 23 years old, known for their New Style dancing and their massive afros. They made it big when they won Incroyable Talent, the French equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent, a few years ago.
Now, they’re dancing with Beyonce, on stage and in her videos, dancing in Jay-Z’s commercials and they’re currently in LA performing in Cirque du Soleil The Immortal Michael Jackson show. So, they’re hot and in demand!
The film is to showcase their talent and show off the New Era caps that they’re wearing. Also, to bring out their quirky and playful dance style. They seem to play off one another a lot and have fun pushing each other to do crazy moves… which certainly works for me.
So the shoot’s on. We’d have the twins for one day and they flew in from LA via a pit stop back home in Paris to get their hair braided.
We’re shooting in a freezing cold warehouse in Bermondsey. All seems to go to plan – the set is dressed, camera track laid and crew ready to go. The twins get there and I finally get to meet them and have a chance to chat to them, alongside Simon, the creative at Exposure. They prefer to speak in English, to practice, which was handy as my French was pretty rusty. They’re absolutely lovely and very charming in that French sort of way. Like true identical twins, they finish off each other’s sentences and bounce thoughts off one another.
I talk them through the day and what we’re going to shoot. We then play them the 60-sec track they’re going to dance to, created specifically for the film by DJ Buddy Peace. First things first, they love the track, what a relief. I then assume they would want to listen to the track over and over to work out some sort of a routine. Maybe they’d want to check out the set and work out how they’d make use of the space. Plus, it would give us a chance to watch them and see their moves in the flesh. But no, they said they’d just improvise the whole routine. I said, ‘Really?’ They insist that they can work it out on set and all would be fine. OK – I trusted them.
So, off to wardrobe and make-up. Make-up, fine. Not much to do there. Wardrobe – again, no problems. There are lots of different tops to try on and they look great. But the shoes… a slight problem. The twins can only dance in Nike Air Jordan’s. And understandably so – the moves they do are so crazy and out of this world that they need the give and flexibility of these shoes. Plus they’ve been wearing them forever, so they’re used to how they feel and the movement they allow. To make a long story short we were ready to shoot two hours later than scheduled, once the right shoes were sourced. Not a great start to the day and an annoying glitch, as their agent hadn’t told the agency about their shoe requirements.
We start off easy, with close ups. Extreme close ups with slight movement. Laurent is first. We shoot his hair, ear, the edge of his face or hand. Then we shoot Larry for the same sort of thing. Getting close up detail and abstract framing.
We then move onto our wides, where the twins now have to dance. It’s full on. From the moment the music starts, they are electric. Take after take, they just get better and better. Taking turns in the limelight, they weave in and out of each other. They try out different moves and they rarely repeat themselves.
I go up to chat to the guys after every take to tell them what I want to see more or less of, or what’s working or what they need to focus on. They were dripping with sweat, they were working so hard. They genuinely wanted to make this the best film they could for us. They pushed themselves so hard and were truly disappointed if a move didn’t come off or look quite as good as they had hoped. Not that we’d know the difference.
We had a handful of Matrix-style time slice shots to shoot too, which would look great when the guys were doing some crazy moves in the air. We had the team over at Time Slice Films capturing this footage with us. They had a three-metre long rig, housing 48 Go Pro HD cameras all lined up which all film at the same time. Two guys needed to hold the rig up horizontal and they could move it in any direction, up and down, side to side. These sequences looked amazing, especially when the twins jumped off the speakers and over one another.
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better shoot. Despite the morning glitch, we powered through the day and saved the producers from any impending heart attacks. The twins are so unbelievably talented and fun and our film is only a snapshot of what they’re really capable of. We were so lucky to have them.
gif courtesy of: twins-addict