The brand film, which was launched in the United States to influencers, players and fans on social and sports platforms by another South African agency, HaveYouHeard, documents the story of a father and daughter who have polarising views on just about every major issue currently defining American politics.
But, as the story unfolds, we learn that some things are more important than ideological differences; like their love of basketball and the weekly ritual of going to games together. Shot in Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, the film is peppered with references to the sport, both in his house and her car – a basketball, a coffee mug, a cap and her keychain.
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“The US, right now, is so divided, so fractured, that it sometimes feels its citizens will never find common ground. Then you come across a story like this and you realise that sport can show us the way back to one another,” said Intrepid Fox’s executive creative director and copywriter for on the brand film, Gavin Whitfield.
But how did a business headquartered in Denver, Colorado end up working with a Cape Town-based agency?
SportsHosts co-founder, Darren Wall, explained: “We were aware of a viral piece of work for Scouts that had been doing the rounds and had about six million YouTube views. Something about it really touched a nerve with us, and we knew we wanted to make work like that. By a stroke of luck, a strategist on our team happens to be a South African and knew the guys who made it.”
A few emails and phone calls later and Whitfield was pitching a number of ideas to the SportsHosts executives. “It was a challenge as the team is spread between New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Connecticut and Melbourne. So, finding a time that made sense for everyone was nearly impossible. But, once we figured out who was doing the ‘red eye’ call, it was plain sailing. The team really let Intrepid Fox lead them creatively.”
Further increasing the South African connection were director Gregg Bailey of Figment Films; Neil Solomon, a producer based in Washington DC working for a production company called People’s Television Inc; and Kabeer Shaik, an award-winning DOP who makes his home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
“Once we’d shot the footage, we brought it back to South Africa so that we could edit with Anthony Lee Martin at Me & My Friends. We mixed the audio at Pressure Cooker Studios and finished the online at Deliverance Post with SFX by Graeme Armstrong, grade by Terry Simpson and titles from Dylan Wrankmore – all this made the project extremely cost-effective without sacrificing anything in front of the camera,” adds Bailey.
How did the all-South African core team handle what is essentially an American story?
“We had a year to research and rewrite it and rewrite it!” said Whitfield. “Also, on a fundamental level, we’ve had our own experience of sport uniting those who are seemingly at odds with one another. The 1995 Rugby World Cup, 2010 FIFA World cup and, more recently, what happened in Japan gave us a universal understanding of the material and specifically the importance of sport in healing divisions. Then, of course, we did a lot of research into the policy platforms that are dividing American politics right now.”
The film was launched during the March Democratic Primaries, which coincide with NBA’s busiest period – March Madness. And not by accident. “We teamed up with the Cape Town office of HaveYouHeard to seed the content in the right place, and they identified March as the biggest month for both politics and basketball,” said Whitfield’s creative partner, Alan Cronje.
“Let’s hope everyone can see that it’s possible to disagree on some things and still find space to enjoy being with one another. There are probably few things more important than that right now,” concludes Whitfield.
Co-founder: Darren Wall and Michael Barrett
Agency: Intrepid Fox
Executive creative directors: Gavin Whitfield and Alan Cronje
Production houses: Figment Films and People’s Television Inc
Director: Gregg Bailey (Figment Films)
Producer: Neil Solomon (People’s Television Inc)
Executive producers: Di du Toit (Figment Films)
DOP: Kabeer Shaik
Editor: Anthony Lee Martin (Me & My Friends)
Audio Mix: Pressure Cooker
Online: Deliverance - Graeme Armstrong (SFX), Terry Simpson (Grade)
Titles: Dylan Wrankmore
Digital PR and influencer strategy and implementation: HaveYouHeard Marketing