Another Film Company’s Declan Lowney was picked to find and direct the new Oxo Family for JWT London.
We caught up with him over an Oxo chicken casserole and asked him about the experience..
Why is the Oxo family advertising heritage so important to people do you think?
The Linda Bellingham days of Oxo are always held in people’s hearts and minds, because the writing and her performance evoked a beautifully traditional British family, but with an edge to it. It became like an advertising sitcom, you grew familiar with the family and characters in it. Contemporary family life is so different - our kids are more confident, outspoken, and suddenly they have a voice at the kitchen table. Our new family had to reflect that, it had to feel more real and relatable in contemporary Britain. It felt like a logical development.
What were the challanges with this job?
The time restraint of 30 seconds! These are complex, layered narratives and it’s challenging to tell the story in that time. Linda’s stories had 40” and in a narrative ad, that’s a lot more time to play with.
The other challenge was getting spontaneous performances from the kids. Trying to keep them interested and fresh on set, you have to really keep the pace up or they get bored very quickly and their performance loses its charm.
How did you approach the casting here which was obviously a crucial part of this campaign?
I have lots of experience casting and working with children. For the Emmy award winning series "Moone Boy" staring Chris O’Dowd, I insisted we street cast kids. We found some real stars in the making using that process definitely helped us get genuine, hilarious performances from them.
For OXO, I suggested casting the kids as siblings as you get much better performances with siblings, they bounce off each other and are more natural. I also felt they should be younger so we get to see them grow up over the years. We found these two little red-heads Braydon and Keira in Manchester and they were a terrific find - they just leapt off the screen. Natural, outward and lots to say, but not precocious. The kids’ casting drove everything else, we cast the rest of the family to work with our dynamic duo. We then had some rehearsal and workshop time with the group, to get them interacting more like a family.
I love helping the actors give great performances. Creating an atmosphere where actors feel they can give freely, especially in comedy, is really crucial - Idris Elba in Sky, the family in Oxo, my leaping Aldi Farmer! I love shooting great performers and telling funny stories!
What have you been shooting recently?
I directed a BBC sitcom pilot ‘The Coopers’, which aired a few months ago and looks like it will go to series. It was about a family with young kids too - so it was like a primer for the OXO campaign! I’m just back from LA where I’ve been directing a new ABC sit-com called AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, which is about… you guessed, a family with young kids, again. The show is going really well and ABC have just ordered another 9 episodes, so I’m going back to LA next week to direct another one. The only downside to all this family stuff is having to watch my tongue on the set because there are children present! I have to go around saying “Oh for feck fecking sake!” and that sort of thing.
Client: Premier Foods
Title: ‘Unexpected Guests’
CD: Chas Bayfield
CD: Dave Jenner
Senior Creative: Giles Hepworth
Senior Creative: Bill hartley
TV Producer: Khirsty McCarter
Production Company: Another Film Company
Director: Declan Lowney
Producer: Simon Monhemius
DOP: Ray Coates
PM: Stuart Butterworth
Editor: Leo King