Riverstone Films' director, Joni Botha, recently completed production of an epic corporate commercial for Ukrainian vodka brand Mernaya.
The 90" nation-building film was specially commissioned to coincide with Ukraine's October 2012 parliamentary elections.
As briefed by the client, the aim of the commercial is twofold: to acknowledge the challenges faced by the former Soviet republic, while inspiring a sense of optimism at a pivotal time in the country's history.
Having worked successfully on parent company Crimean Vodka's other brands, Botha was approached directly by the client. In storyboarding the commercial, the seasoned director was afforded complete creative freedom by Mernaya, the only proviso being authenticity.
As such, the spot presents an unvarnished portrayal of the capital Kiev, including its crumbling Soviet era infrastructure. Says Botha: "Our client insisted that no airbrushing of the city and its people be attempted - the acid test would be that Ukrainians see the commercial as real and honest.'"
To offset the admission of Ukraine's difficult past, and precarious present, the commercial shows what Ukrainians are capable of showcasing the success of the home -grown Mernaya brand. In 2012 alone for instance, the vodka won five gold excellence awards internationally.
"The positive message to the target audience is clear: look what world-class feats we Ukrainians can achieve," comments Botha.
The commercial was shot throughout Kiev over three days, with Botha using a crew of Ukrainian and foreign talent, including veteran South African director of photography Michael Brierley. Postproduction was carried out in Kiev and in Amsterdam's famous Condor facility, while casting the voice over artist took a month.
The popular spot continues to flight in Ukraine.Johannesburg-based, Riverstone Films was founded in 2007 by Saffron Doran and Jeremy Holden. The production house has maintained a reputation for delivering concept-driven, award-winning work and currently represents 3 directors, in Jeremy Holden, Michael Doran and Joni B. (Botha).