Professional directors on a closed course. Do not attempt these maneuvers. You might make a mess in your living room.
Škoda and creative agency Optimist asked three filmmakers from the Dutch production company Halal to create commercials from their homes for the nameplate's SUVs. Toy versions of the vehicles appear in the 30-second spots, which, to varying degrees, tweak familiar car-ad tropes while adding a child-like sense of wonder.
In each film, we watch creative artists at play. Though confined during lockdowns, their imaginations roam free, inviting viewers on whimsical rides of discovery.
First, we watch Steffen Haars' matchbox-sized Kodiaq zip across furniture and floors, up and down model racetracks, among house plants, and even through jets of flame, action-movie style…
…creating a shambles that his partner knows, just knows, she'll be sweeping up for hours, judging from that look on her face at the end.
"I loved the idea of a 'working-at-home dad' being completely distracted by a toy car, totally losing himself in this self-created car ad," Haars says. "The challenges and [at times] distractions of working at home are familiar to a lot of people these days. Building on that, I approached this film in a way I love: making something big in a small way."
He adds: "I also loved working with the boundaries of a limited crew—aka, a crew consisting only of me and my girlfriend, who did camera operating and focus-pulling when I was acting in the shot myself. You had to be very creative with everything to make the best out of it, which made it something really personal."
Next, Johan Kramer takes his tiny Karoq for a spin, with rockin' retro nods (cool soundtrack, man) and a bathtub car-wash as highlights.
"With a commercial or film project, there are usually many people involved," notes Kramer. "This time, it was just me and my oldest daughter, Isabella—and Paco the dog, of course. We even had to make our own coffee on set—director, camera crew and catering all in one."
Finally, directing duo From Form—aka, Jurjen Versteeg and Ashley Govers—harness stop-motion techniques to unleash the Kamiq from its bread-box garage:
At one point, Versteeg operated the camera with one hand and taped his toe on a wireless keyboard to film each frame—while his other hand appeared in the shot.
The DIY initiative required to steer each directors' vision becomes apparent in this behind-the-scenes video:
"As the Škoda SUV range consists of three models with their own positioning, we were aiming for three different directors with a personal point of view, to create three different films within their own distinctive style to underline the characters of the models," Optimist partner and creative head Tom Hollander tells Muse. "Only when you're really into the project can you deliver the maximum result, especially with no agency or client present."
We've seen toy cars in several Covid-era ads, including this cute Honda Civic spot and Silk Almondmilk's neighborly excursion. But Škoda's shifts the fantasy elements into a higher gear.
"Everybody who played with toy cars will recognize themselves in the films, going back to childhood memories where limitations were no obstacle," Hollander says. "With imagination, everything is possible. All of the three films have this in common, and demonstrate the positive power of fun and play, especially in a time of worries and insecurities."