Take a One-Shot Journey Through 6 Culturally Defining Media Icons

IconsWith a teaser dropping last week for the final season of Mad Men, I was reminded of the clever appropriation of that show's silhouetted anti-hero's draping form, alongside the five other well recognisable cultural icons appropriated by agency Grey, working in collaboration with directing duo Us, in their advertisement for UK paper The Sunday Times' culture section. See how many you can name (best be all of them or forever hang your head in shame) after the jump:

As effortless as the continuous move through the six set-ups may seem -- honed down from an initial 11 originally present in the script so as not to rush through those satisfying transitions -- Chris Barrett and Luke Taylor, the constituent parts of the aforementioned Us, and DP Ben Fordesman ran through a full day of prep and rehearsal followed by a meticulous 27 takes before they were satisfied that they'd got it in can. Turns out that take 16 was the charm.

You can see how the slight of camera magic came together in this making of video:

DP Ben Fordesman also shares what his experience on the ad was like from behind the lens in BigLeagueFilmSchool's Learn to be a Cinematographer interview, as well as taking a stroll through his career progression from electrician to cinematographer. He also gets specific about some of his favourite kit and techniques towards the end of the interview.

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K3wB4GSlK4

Some of the interview takeaways that stood out for me were:

  • The importance of spending time as a technician before progressing to the DP roll, regardless of which specific department that may be.
  • How he was drawn into cinematography through the excitement of being asked to work on no/low-budget projects.
  • How he considers it a good thing that the drive of technology has saturated the industry with talent.

As nebulous as the calculable return on investment for an advert is, I'd say that the 1.7M Vimeo views alone put Icons top of the "well worth it" pile; comments about its conceptual similarity to Anthony Mandler's Jay-Z Rhapsody commercial notwithstanding.

What did you think of Icons' one-shot technique and Fordesman's observations about his career as a Cinematographer? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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Hey, thanks for the post, amazing shot. I think you intended the first of the two imbedded links which are currently both the 'making of' to be the actual video (https://vimeo.com/85523671) instead...?

March 25, 2014 at 8:32AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Opps, thanks for pointing that out Toby! Should have the correct video now.

March 25, 2014 at 11:03AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I just saw a mistake: pause at 0:30 sec and you see some kind of leg going out of screen :) however, I ADORE videos like this!!! very good job

March 25, 2014 at 11:22AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Thanks for this gem Mar Belle!

March 26, 2014 at 11:12AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


That was unbelievably awesome.

March 26, 2014 at 12:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I like the info... that's about where it stops it looks like they are both sitting infront of a rather bad web camera and just outside the correct FOV for them cameras (mic was more in focus than the interviewer and the other dude was just plain out of focus!) which took a fair ammount of attention away from the actual discusion. so maybe find something appart from web cams when doing something like this aye?

March 27, 2014 at 10:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM