Written by on Dec 6, 2010. Posted in Production News

John Lewis turns summer into winter for Christmas ad

Say what you like about the weather in Scotland, but snow is probably the last thing you expect to see in the streets of Edinburgh in July. The ‘freezing’ conditions were created in the Scottish capital during the height of summer for department store John Lewis’ Christmas commercial Tribute to Givers.

Glasgow and spots on the West Coast of Scotland were considered as shoot locations, but as the schedule was tight the decision was made to localise everything more effectively. Russell Curtis, a Producer with Partizan, said: “The Director had recently shot a short film in Scotland and he used to live in Edinburgh so thought it would be perfect. The fact it was a snowy Christmas ad shot in July made it a challenge.”

Filming took place in Edinburgh, West Lothian and Fife. A lot of equipment was driven up to Scotland from London and Manchester, while permits were needed to close roads, restrict parking and operate cherry pickers.

Artem generated subtle atmospheric smoke in Edinburgh’s Central Library, as well as rain and snow effects in the exterior locations.

Joanna Dewar Gibb, of Artem, said: “For the ‘snow’ we used a Krendl machine that sprays a biodegradable paper-based product with a fine mist of water that makes it slightly sticky and helps it lie. The snow team is the first in and the last out and it takes two days to clear up afterwards. In the library we used a Colt Smoke Generator to provide atmospherics in a way that wouldn’t damage the building or the historic books.”

Hugh Gourlay, the local Location Manager, said: “During the shoot we shot 12 different locations over four days. This is in itself a tall order, but when you add weather effects on to this, it made for a very demanding shoot. We also used a large helium balloon for the lighting in the library, and a tracking vehicle for the road shoot (through Bickers). As we were filming in Scotland in July and this was supposed to be an advert set in winter, we had challenges with the long hours of daylight and required to black out certain locations in advance of shooting.”

Ros Davis, of Edinburgh Film Focus, said: “Timing was a major challenge. There was a lot to achieve in a short time and things like road closures require a minimum lead-in time. Hugh [Gourlay, one of the Location Managers] did an amazing job in matching the needs of the production to the requirements of the city.”

Client: John Lewis
Agency: Adam & Eve, London
Creative Director: Emer Stamp
Agency Producer: David Riley
Production Company: Partizan
Producer: Russell Curtis
Local Location Manager: Hugh Gourlay
Location Manager: Algy Sloane
Director: Eric Lynne


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