The dedication and loyalty of Manchester United Football Club’s fans transcend across social strata. Ultimately, “the Theatre of Dreams beckons” so wrote Executive Creative Director, Mark Tan of Chuosenko Indonesia. For those who aren’t football fans, that Theatre is the the Old Trafford Stadium where MUFC breathes.
Starting from the successful businessman, sat among his priceless collection of MUFC memorabilia collected over the years, clicking away a personal letter to MUFC, viewers are taken through an emotional roller coaster experienced by fans from all walks of life. Pride, frustration, anger, despair. optimism, anticipation – till they explode in jubilation when their team wins.
Dear Manchest United,
Thank you for the many years of passion, And of faith and pride.
Through the good times, and the bad. We always bounce back.
Thank you for the joy and belief. The Theatre of Dreams beckons.
I am United till I die.
Terima kasih Indonesia.
To add texture to the film, director, Steven Facius picked a multi-purpose court typically found between low-cost, high rise government-subsidised housing (known locally as rusun) as location for the young teenagers’ football game. “I’m having to pump talents up in footballing scenes in the morning, but recede into the quiet of a closed-set immediately thereafter, to get up close and personal with another set of talents, enticing them to be oblivious to the camera and scarce crew behind it, so as to draw out their inner most feelings for the club. All that wouldn’t have been possible if our talents weren’t genuine Man Utd fans,” said Steven.
Both Steven and DoP Hong Yin Ao concurred on shooting this with Cooke anamorphic lenses not just for a more cinematic feel, but also utilising the lenses’ natural bokeh to focus viewers when it mattered. To be relevant and credible throughout, most shots were designed to present viewers with a voyeuristic insight as to what ticked inside true, diehard MUFC fans. Hong went about this by hand-holding the camera with those heavy anamorphic lenses, most of the time.
When it came to the locations, both Producer, Purbo Priyono, and Location Manager, Ponco Riyadi, had a good idea as to what Steven and ECD Mark were expecting. It didn’t take long for them to zero in on various possibilities which suited the time and budget constraints. “For the rusun location, we anticipated bureaucratic delays and a security nightmare shooting in such a densely populated area, but the actual experience was surprisingly pleasant” said Purbo.
Although Steven isn’t a fan of any club in particular, he did extensive research on the internet. He dug deep into the adage “football isn’t just about life and death; it’s much more important than that” which are words still relevant in the footballing world today – judging from the billions of dollars China are splurging in European clubs and players. Hence, in Steven’s treatment, he wrote this about fans: “Some even consider football their ‘religion’. And, for many fans, Manchester United’s included, the club is the centre of their universe. Their lives revolve around it.”
The ‘away’ leg of the shoot took us to the Theatre of Dreams itself where 7 of the club’s 1st team players were given to us for between 20 and 40 minutes each. Other than their ace goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovich, we had Juan Mata, David De Gea, Chris Smalling, Ander Herrera, Eric Bailly and Daley Blind. Luke Shaw was originally scheduled as the eighth player, but was pulled off due to injury. That’s approximately £160 million worth of players at the then valuation.
The production in the UK was run by Producer, Simon Eakhurst, assisted by Manchester-based Production Manager, Eileen Gartside. Key crew from the previous year’s campaign, such as DoP, Luke Scott and 1st AD, Rawdon De Fresnes, were recalled for this. “With Simon at the helm, one can’t expect a production NOT to run smoothly, albeit minor exogenous-induced hiccups” Joe (EP) added.
Part of the concourse outside one of the fans’ entrances was blacked out, astroturf laid along 50 or so metres, and our “studio” at Old Trafford was ready. Luke knew he won’t have time to trim lighting once players are on-set and did a great job with his camera and lighting departments ensuring there wasn’t any down time once cameras started rolling.
The end scene of Zlatan saying terima kasih Indonesia (Thank You Indonesia in Bahasa) backed by the other 6 players, was gratifying not only for Indonesian MUFC fans but resonated across all supporters of sporting clubs and sports personalities.
Rakesh SRM, the offline editor, was then tasked to put together the tens of hours of footage into a cohesive narrative. Zane at Bumble Bee Studios brought the audio component of this narrative to life, given the freedom to record live musicians to augment those emotional highs and lows written into his track. Grading by Adi Supriadi and online finessing by Mervyn Lim of Oriental Post Jakarta took the spot up to the next level. One which the agency and client were pleased with.
It was brave of the client to forego showing the product through 90% of the spot. That served well to pull at the heartstrings of viewers. Months after this campaign launched, Mark’s line “I am United till I die” which signed off the spot is chanted whenever fans go to a NOBAR, a local acronym for watching games together. “Many clients start out with “viewer entertainment” as their priority, but succumbed mid-way through the productions to having products and brands take centre stage. That’s advertising; but we’re seeing more and more clients create branded online content with viewer entertainment as the sole focus, hence the virality of some of the the better made videos” said Joe Seow, Executive Producer.
“As film directors, we don’t get many opportunities to shoot this kind of film, with an open-minded ECD in Mark, and an equally understanding client, who remained focused and left key creative decisions in the hands of Chuosenko, Square Box and myself,” Steven said when the job wrapped. “An enlightening experience for any director in this region” he added.