Radioaktive Film transform a cycle track for Hennessy spot Major Taylor
Ukrainian based production service company Radioaktive Film transformed a cycle track into a 1920’s set for Hennessy commercial Major. Radioaktive Film, who are celebrating 20 years in the business this month, explained the behind the scenes workings of the high-end commercial.
The one-and-a-half-minute spot centres on the character of Major Taylor, a cycling world champion who competed at the turn of the century. The spot takes us on an intense journey from the race track through the inner working of the rider as he tests his mettle, to ultimately finding ultimate glory in winning the race. The commercial is a sensory overload as the high intensity situation is captured with dramatic lighting, up close shots of the race and sweeping pans of the cheering crowd.
Directed by Derek Cianfrance for RadicalMedia, Radioaktive serviced the production on location in Ukraine. For the main production, a cycle track in Lviv, a city eight hundred km from Kiev was chosen for its retro feel. Founded in 1980, the buildings’ high ceilings and large windows allowed for wide shots of the race course. The course itself has a wooden track surrounded by seating.
One main cyclist from UK, who played Major Taylor, travelled to Lviv for the shoot while the remaining twenty-seven extra cyclists and 350 extras who played the audience were cast locally. Multiple rehearsals with the sportsmen and equipment were done before the shoot went smoothly.
Two hundred members of crew were on set for the large-scale production. Technically, the shoot was demanding, and the camera moves required were challenging. Radioaktive commented that “our grip department was amazingly creative” on the shoot. A cinema lights package was also utilised to provide the dramatic effect needed.
To transform the race course into a turn of the century setting, the location required a lot of dressing. Lamps and some seating were replaced with old fixtures and the retro bikes needed for the race were sourced from London prop houses.
After 20 years in the business, Radioaktive have worked in some notable locations. Ukrainian house and the Crematorium are two of their favourite spots which are examples of the “unusual, beautiful architecture we have in Kiev”. Additionally, the team described the small Queen Tamar Airport in Georgia as a “totally unbelievable” location.
Reflecting on some of the most memorable commercials they have serviced, the team picked out Apple’s Roll, directed by Sam Brown with Imperial Woodpecker. It was one such production which featured a masterful skateboarder performing through a bustling building. They also serviced the production for #bloodnormal for Libresse which has won multiple awards, including two Cannes Lions this year.
Production Studio: RadicalMedia
Director: Derek Cianfrance
DOP: Roman Vasyanov
Production Service: Radioaktive Film
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