Australian founder & distiller Miko and his English business partner Ian both live in Cognac, France. The Audemus distillery is attached to Miko’s home and Ian, whose quirky-home-made animated clips populate the brand’s Instagram account, lives in a manor house nearby. These two worlds combine in ‘The Home of Pink Pepper Gin’, which as well as being executed in an artistic and meticulous manner, is just as impressive for its informative nature, effectively communicating the suite of botanicals that are distilled to give the brand’s award winning spirit ‘Pink Pepper Gin’ its unique flavour. Crucially, two ingredients are omitted from the story and remain a guarded secret.
Production began in January with lockdown arriving mid-way-through and presenting its own challenges. To record the voiceover, unable to get into a studio, David Hargreaves, seen recently in Fleabag and This Country, had to fashion a makeshift recording studio in his wardrobe at home. Given he is 80 years old, that’s no mean feat. One of the modelmakers displayed symptoms of Covid-19 which delayed the shoot at first and then lockdown stopped the ball in its tracks. As soon as restrictions were lifted, a reduced team were at Clapham Road Studios to complete the stop motion section of the animation.
The film’s bold and diverse atmosphere brought about by bringing into harmony multiple mediums in an approach reminiscent of the process behind Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A hand-built miniature house shot frame by frame sits as the backdrop for six characters who were created using digital paintbrushes. On top of that, there are elements shot live action, including the liquid inside the stills. Three mediums in one film, a rare feat befitting of Audemus Sprits. The spot was directed by George Warren, an up and coming director and DOP whose graduation film at Kingston University, Uki, was funded by the BFI and aired on the BBC.
The 2D characters were originally painted in watercolour by Edd Bagenal as brand ambassadors for Audemus Spirits. These were adapted by animator Maria Morris to be more animation friendly. Normally 2D animators are free to create movement how they wish, but since these characters needed to interact with stop motion elements, Maria had to make the characters react to the set. Even adjusting their body positions to match the changes in perspective caused by the camera move. Music composed by George Grinling is the icing on the cake, drawing on a range of influences including Django Reinhardt and Cosmo Sheldrake.
“Miko and I had seen and loved the work of the team at Sentio Space, and contacted them with the idea of bringing the Audemus world to life. We wanted to be able to educate consumers and our trade partners alike by explaining the ingredients & craft behind our flagship product, Pink Pepper Gin.Oliver and Benjy joined us in France to absorb as much background information as they could and there’s an element of that trip in the finished film – the bubbling effect in each still is taken from Oliver’s video footage of the actual stills filmed at the distillery here in Cognac! When George Warren came on board the project really started to take off, and we’re incredibly lucky to have worked with someone who is as passionate and creative as he is, and we are extremely proud and delighted with the results.”
Ian Spink, Co-Founder, Audemus Spirits
Director/DOP: George Warren
Producers: Oliver Trace & Benjy Barkes
Production Company: Sentio Space
Model Makers: Helen Ferguson, Beattie Hartley, Emma Hodgson, Emma Niemis, Alice Simonato, Maria Negredo, Natalie Jones
Set Carpentry: Yossel Simpson Little
Stop Motion Animator: George Carman
2D Character Design: Maria Morris & Angelica Lena
2D Animation: Maria Morris
Graphic Design & Additional Post Production: Leuan Lewis
Music & Sound Design: George Grinling
Voiceover: David Hargreaves
Voiceover Script: Jay Daniells
Shot at: Clapham Road Studios
It is not easy for brands to create a connection with their customers. When it is achieved, it is almost always by pairing a fantastic product with sublime storytelling. Animation is particularly popular amongst brands who want to imbue a touch of class. Our commissions from commercial outfits have tended to give room for artistic impression while still conveying a key message at heart.