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Shilo Breaks Out in Saatchi and Saatchi’s “Spoken Word” Spot for Guinness


–The filmmakers from creative production company Shilo (

) recently directed and produced a phenomenal new spot for the creative team from ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi London and their clients at Guinness. Working in collaboration with agency creative director Tim Hearn and creative team Dave Govier and Levi Slavin, Shilo – widely known for creating visually poetic content – chose to produce the agency’s powerful “Spoken Word” script in a stunning location, where their live-action filmmaking talents could amplify the spot’s message. The spot, which began airing throughout the Caribbean last month, can be seen



“What we found most exciting about Shilo was their ability to bring a real magic to every aspect of the film – live-action, design and VFX,” said Govier and Slavin. “They’re an unbelievable talent.”

Set in an empty, darkened warehouse, a man – international musician and spoken-word artist Ainsley Burrows – appears, and begins a spellbinding, poetic performance, most of it addressed directly into the camera. “I’m on a journey,” he begins. “It started 28 years, 12 weeks, 3 days, 6 hours, 36 minutes, and 14, 15, 16 seconds ago. And in this time I’ve come too far; too far to listen to critics; too far to consider defeat; too far to be less than great… 25, 26, 27, 28. The knocks on my journey mapped out by my scars; they’re both story and proof of how I reached for the stars. My hands in the air, my feet on the floor… 41, 42, 43, 44. I’m on a journey, and it won’t stop until I do… 49.” The words “Reach for Greatness” then appear on-screen, before revealing a bottle of Guinness.

“For calling on us to fulfill this script’s very tall order, we were honored… and we embraced the challenge with everything we had,” said Shilo co-founder, creative director and director André Stringer. “Directing for us is so much about bringing a broad, holistic vision to the table. Shooting the live-action, and directing the performance, as well as seamlessly integrating our poetic design and animated elements all took on equal importance. Nothing was an afterthought.”

The agency’s script specifically called for a man of Caribbean origins, and the strength of the dialogue led Shilo to search for someone who actually personified the character and his story. “As we began conceiving the production process, a lot of ideas came to the surface,” Stringer explained. “For our on-camera talent, we wanted his actions to come across not as a performance, but as more of a ‘letting of his soul.’ When you watch the spot, that’s exactly what Ainsley brought to this.”

Another striking component of the finished spot is the setting. With the script originally calling for the actor to appear in a pitch-black setting, Stringer and his colleagues suggested shooting on-location in a large, empty space with some character. “We felt pretty strongly that featuring Ainsley in this type of space would bring in some important texture, personality and grit – and also that it provided an interesting visual metaphor for the theater of his mind,” Stringer added. “Levi and Dave totally got behind the idea, and the location we all agreed upon was The Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor in Bayonne, New Jersey.”

To capture their live-action footage on-location, Stringer and his director of photography Martin Ahlgren used the ARRIFLEX 435 Xtreme 35mm motion picture camera, and also the ARRICAM ST for hand-held shots – as well as ARRI lighting – and their choice of film stock was Kodak Vision2 200T 5217 color negative film. “We embraced the black and beige palette of the Guinness branding as the main elements of our look,” said Stringer. “The milky shadows and striking beams of light mix with the flow of our graphic elements – everything was an attempt to bring the beer to life in a metaphorical fashion.”

As noted earlier, the creative also called for Shilo to create original animated content, which appears around Burrows as he speaks, to illustrate his words and thoughts. At first appearing as a flowing atmospheric trail following the artist, shapes organically materialize, symbolizing many different images of time, travel, growth, freedom and more. For this aspect of the production, Shilo’s associate creative director/designer Evan Dennis, 3D lead Tamir Sapir, Stringer and their fellow artists used Adobe Creative Suite 3 for design, Autodesk Maya for animation and 3D, Adobe Photoshop for texturing, Adobe After Effects for compositing, and Final Cut Pro for editing. FumeFX was also used for the creation of particles, and Maya nCloth was used for cloth simulation.

The campaign’s original music and sound design are courtesy of Human.

“Guinness represents greatness, and for this short film powerfully representing a person’s journey toward greatness, we had a goal of making sure that every frame, every nuance, felt authentic and on-brand,” Stringer concluded. “Looking at the finished result, we’re extremely proud, and again, we express our deep appreciation to the creatives at Saatchi & Saatchi, and their clients at Guinness, for putting their faith in us.”

The agency’s project team also included executive broadcast director Andy Gulliman, regional planning director Karen Johnstone, account director Frederic Roger, account manager Victoria Reiz, agency producer Laura Mueller, and production assistant Emma Wolanski. For Shilo, credits also include executive producer Tracy Chandler, editors Josh Bodnar, Galen Summer, and Stringer, illustrator Zach Johnsen, animators Henning Koczy, Craig Kohlmeyer, Stieg Retlin, and Warren Heimall, compositors Bashir Hamid, Tamir Sapir, and Stringer, 3D artists Warren Heimall, Craig Kohlmeyer, Christina Ku, Youngmin Kim, Chris Fung, and Joji Tsuruga, rotoscopers Constance Conrad, Joel Voelker, Chris West, and Stieg Retlin, trackers Chris West and Joel Voelker, producer Lindsay Bodanza, line producer Nina Goldberg, and executive producer for HANraHAN, Mark Hanrahan.

About Shilo

Shilo is an Emmy Award-winning creative production company representing a group of filmmakers led by directors Jose Gomez and Andre Stringer. Internationally known for creating original and commissioned work that is powerful, provocative and visually extraordinary, Shilo’s deeply held passions for design-infused storytelling and their innovative applications of live-action, design, and animation techniques deliver breakthrough experiences for screens large and small. From its studios in New York and Del Mar, California, where recent projects have spanned short films, commercials and music videos, Shilo has the capacity and experience to originate ideas and handle all aspects of production. Shilo published its first book, We Make It Good, in 2007, and also curates the site

. For more information, or to request a reel, please contact Tracy Chandler at +1.212.352.2044, or visit Shilo online at