TVC Campaign of the month: The Ship Song Project

The Opera House is hugely recognisable – but there are literally millions of people who visit it each year, who have never been to an actual performance there,” says Caroline David, producer of the Ship Song Project. Based upon Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song”, it is an online campaign that invited Australian and international musicians to pay homage to the theatre.

“The Opera House like all businesses needs to make money to survive, so the aim with this project was to de-mystify the House and make it accessible to everyone and in particular the youth market,” explains David, a producer at Exit Films.
The film moves through both back and front of house, introducing performers such as Silverchair’s Daniel Johns, Kev Carmody, Sarah Blasko, Martha Wainwright, Sydney Symphony, The Temper Trap, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, and John Bell of Bell Shakespeare who all offered their time for free. On their scheduled shoot day, each musician recorded their portion of the song in the Opera House’s studio before their performance in front of the camera.
“We envisaged a five day shoot over a period of six weeks,” says David. “However, due to artists’ availability it actually ended up being a 10 day shoot over 10 months. The budget kept increasing to allow for additional shoot days, but was still very low considering what was achieved.
Other issues included coordinating with the venue around performances for filming; sound leaking from the Ship Song playback while real performances were on; and making sure the venue and artist were available at the same time.
The film was shot mainly on 5Ds, but for the aerial footage shot on a broadcast camera on HD Cam SR using a Cineflex mount, and Daniel Johns’ scene, using an Alexa with a scorpio camera crane.
On release, #shipsongproject trended on Twitter and garnered comments about ‘goosebumps,’ ‘chills’ and ‘tears to eyes’ on YouTube where the project extended with behind the scenes clips, artist interviews and the making of video, narrated by Guy Pearce.
Title: The Ship Song Project
Agency:  The Monkeys
Client: Sydney Opera House
Creative Director: Noah Regan
Agency Producer: Thea Carone
Production Company: Exit Films
Producer: Caroline David
Director: Paul Goldman
Editor: David Gross
Music: Elliott Wheeler
DOP/Cinematographer: Hugh Miller,  Lachlan Milne, Tony Luu, Garry Phillips
Post Production: David Gross, Definition Films
Helicoptor Pilot: Gary Ticehurst
Camera: Canon 5D, Alexa

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