Written by Tom Deehan on May 4, 2016. Posted in On Location

Sonny London films H&M commercial in New York with David Beckham and Kevin Hart

Comedian Kevin Hart and sports personality David Beckham feature in Sonny London and Rival School Pictures’ latest commercial for H&M. The commercial was shot on location in New York as Hart attempts to imitate Beckham’s lifestyle for an upcoming film as hilarious results ensue.

TLG was able to question Rival School Pictures’ Executive Producer, Alihan Karagul about the shoot.

What specific locations did you choose for the shoot and why?

“We really needed grand locations; the best New York had to offer. At the same time, due to Beckham’s and Hart’s time limitations, we needed to find locations in which we could get several epic styles combined in one place.”

“Our central location was to be Beckham’s “home”. The criteria was that it needed to be grandiose yet cool, not ultra modern, something that would be a place that Beckham would live with his family in NY - not a bachelor pad. Ideally, it would have the look and feel of a Chelsea/West Village townhouse. Believe it or not, this was a bigger challenge than we had originally anticipated. In general, NYC townhouses are fairly narrow, especially when you start to fill it with a lot of filming equipment. The problem is that once you get into wider space, you start getting away from townhouses and into luxury lofts, which both the agency creatives and the Director Fredrik Bond didn’t think was right for Beckham.”

“We pulled out all the stops in the search for this, using all the resources at our disposal from files of known past locations to cold scouting (leaving flyers at hundreds of townhouse buildings that could fit the bill.) Finally after weeks of scouting we found it. To protect the homeowner’s privacy I’m not at liberty to tell you whose house it was but our genius Locations Team led by Joe White somehow worked their magic, found the house through Cold Scouting, and convinced the owners to let us take over the place for three full days.”

“The house itself was actually an old fire station which the owner had completely renovated from top to bottom, whilst leaving in some really fantastic rustic touches like the old fire pole which can be seen in the background of the gym scene. It was immensely helpful to find a place like this that offered so many areas in one location - the living room, the gym, the bedroom, the rooftop, the garage, and finally the exterior of the fire station which we see in the last scene with David.”

“The other main location needed to be the photo studio, but although photo studio spaces in NY are somewhat of a known quantity, not just an ordinary studio would do. Fortunately, we were able to secure Spring Studios which is just an amazingly visual location with massive windows all along one side, allowing an immense amount of natural light to fill the space.”

“Just like the townhouse, the second we saw this space we knew it was the right place. The studio also has this amazing green room with a floor to ceiling window that looks out over the stage itself, in which we see Kevin looking out over the stage as David is being photographed. It was just all there naturally - we couldn’t have asked for anything better!”

Did tax incentives play a role in these decisions?

“Not specifically. We were required to shoot in NYC due to the creative team and the main concern was finding the best NYC locations that we could.”

What separates New York as a filming location to other major cities?

“I think the old cliché regarding shooting in NYC is that the city itself becomes a character in your film, and I think that is certainly true of this spot. Consider the view from the giant windows of the photo studio scenes, the rooftop ice bath scenes, and the city streets that Kevin drives around. Visually, NYC is one of a kind, and can’t really be replicated. I think it is due to the natural vibrancy this city has especially now when the city seems to be booming with life.”

“Another interesting thing about shooting in NYC is how different the city can be between seasons. We shot this H&M spot in July when NYC is glowing with summer weather. If you were to wait two months into autumn, the city has an entirely different feel, as does winter and spring!”


Client: H&M

Director: Fredrik Bond

Production Company: Sonny London

Production Service Company: Rival School Pictures

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB


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