28 April 2010
Shoot! TfL create new Superhighways ad
TfL were shooting a new ad for Cycle Superhighways last night outside Kennington Tube.
These are the cycling models you'll see on the lead image in the next campaign trumpeting the arrival of CS3, Barking to Tower Gateway, the first of the Superficial Cycleways to be opened.
We chatted to the friendly and helpful production team, who are shooting in four locations for the campaign. (They called them 'executions', not the most encouraging piece of jargon in a cycle safety context.)
The affable props buyer was responsible for sourcing the bikes. He cheerily admitted he was not a cyclist and had chosen them on the basis of colour coordination rather than, say, the presence of mudguards or racks. Fair enough - it accurately reflects the choice process of the average commuter, I suppose. The bikes came brand-new from a shop but no, before you ask, they go back there after the shoot.
We were requested not to take photographs of the snapper at work. Apparently he's a bit touchy about that sort of thing. Hmm. If he doesn't like the idea of members of the public taking photographs in a public place, then he's in the wrong job. He should be a Met police officer instead.
Talking of police, there were a few on hand to stop and direct the traffic while the shoot was taking place, to give space to the models. If coppers shooing away the traffic is to be a permanent feature of the Superlieways when they arrive later this summer then we're all for it.
We think the production team made the right choices over the models: a fair, slightly aspirational, representation, and good to see half of them weren't wearing helmets and one had a wicker basket.
I've encountered or been part of various meeja shoots (the previous one being the 2009 Doctor Who Christmas Special, shot in Camberwell in July with fake snow) and they're always the same. Most of the time nothing happens. Everyone on the team sits around swopping tales of when they worked with Robbie Williams, while the cameraman frets over an intruding leaf, the soundman complains about a passing jumbo, and the director fumes in the distance on a mobile phone. It takes all day to get three minutes of footage or a handful of usable pictures. It's just the way things are. The production team here were amiable and courteous and I hope they got the result they wanted.
The director (?producer) Zara, who is a cyclist, seemed a bit surprised by my unenthusiasm for the 'safe, direct and continuous' Superhighways though. Um, er, they're a blue stripe on the road, I said. (Hey, TfL, maybe I'd feel different if I was being paid to promote them, instead of just having to ride them.)
Anyway: why did they choose Kennington? Because, even though there's no blue paint here yet (it'll be Photoshopped in later, presumably - that's all they have to change, after all) it's good for shooting, being a long straight road with a clear London feel to it.
Compare that, for instance, to this stretch of the same route a little further south, on Clapham Road, snapped last week. It's got the bluewash already on it - but, you know, it doesn't quite say, 'London' as much, does it? Or, indeed, 'safe' or 'continuous'.