Platypus Productions recently shot a Broadway-inspired Vodafone Blue commercial with top Asian director, Prakash Varma. He's Always on Facebook, the two-minute musical, already has over 110 000 views on YouTube.
Shot over two days at Cape Town Film Studios, the massive shoot featured 12-metre-high film noir backdrops, human puppets, and live scene changes, as well as hand-built classic cars and three-story buildings.
Platypus' executive producer Ian Chuter studied drama as part of his UK film degree and acted in plays at The Edinburgh Festival, so he enjoyed the chance to get back in touch with his theatre roots. "Varma wanted to keep the feeling as true to theatre as possible, which is a very different frame of reference, so my job was to combine the two disciplines," Ian says.
Ian started by consulting with The Artscape to make sure the theatre elements and textures were authentic. He also hired Gearhouse's theatrical lighting designer, Phillip Chames, to work alongside DOP, Vicci Turpin.
With the exception of Varma and New York lead actor Phillip Spaeth, all the cast and crew were South African. Sally White art directed, Dianna Cilliers was in charge of the wardrobe, Leon von Solms did the makeup, and Didi Moses handled the choreography.
"Varma loves coming to South Africa and working with the team," says Ian. "For a director who places such a emphasis on the aesthetic, and who can choose to shoot anywhere in the world, this is a huge compliment."
Platypus edited and post-produced the commercial in-house in Cape Town. Varma first collaborated with Platypus on the Vodafone ZooZoo campaign, which won two Grand Prixs at The Abby Awards in 2010 and became a cult sensation with over six million YouTube hits.
"The hardest thing these days is to be original," says Ian. "That's what I love about Varma: he's true to his vision and he follows it through."
Platypus represents Varma in South Africa. To watch his showreel, visit www.platypus.co.za.
ABOUT PLATYPUS PRODUCTIONS Founded in 1992, Platypus Productions is one of most established commercial production companies in South Africa, but is enjoying a new lease on life since their Vodafone ZooZoo campaign became a global phenomenon.
Representing directors Ian Chuter, Prakash Varma, Vicci Turpin, Fiona Macpherson, and Renee van Reenen, Platypus offers a full-service creative solution for any board, from production to post-production.