Composer Johnny Green Splashes Out for Allianz ‘Swim Club’
Enhancing the magic of an underwater world, Heckler Sound’s Johnny Green was enlisted to bring to sonic life Allianz TVC ‘Swim Club’ via director Grant Sputore and agency Howatson+Co. Here he describes the process of creating a nostalgic rock-pop era original track and a soundscape to suit the soothing swishes of swimming.
- What was the inspiration behind the original track and sound design for this campaign?
We had some heavyweight music references including Queen, Bowie and ELO. Rather than be daunted by the scale and context of the references, we drew on the essence of what everyone loves about these songs and created original pieces.
Originally there were three different compositions for the three different films in the campaign, Somersault, Pruney Fingers and Snorkelling. However, these were consolidated to create one hero song. The agency and director were so impressed with the submissions we put forward that we got the opportunity to screen them to agency founder Chris Howatson (aka Howie).
- How did you brainstorm sound and music ideas with director Grant Sputore and the wider production team?
I really enjoyed working alongside Grant and H+Co on this campaign. As the visual edit evolved so did our music and sound edits, in tandem. We threw a bunch of ideas together and quickly developed a cohesive combined idea of the world Grant directed and filmed. On one occasion, Grant and I sat in my studio tweaking reverb and filter decays to best match the sync. That was awesome.
- How do you capture the joy of an underwater somersault using sound design?
The sound design was very water focused so we immediately started experimenting with reverbs and filters to give audiences a sense of being underwater. We applied those effect across the music mix so that the whole song had a low-end dipped filtered effect, appearing to sound like it was being played/heard underwater before emerging back to full bandwidth above water.
- How important is sound and music to the overall success of a campaign film?
Music and sound played a hugely important role as there was no voice over, so we had to do a lot of heavy lifting with regards to the narrative while leaving room for supers and retaining an authenticity to the music, so it still sounded like a commercially released track.
- What advice would you give to collaborators hoping to get the most out of their composer?
Being included in the pre-production can help a composer be invested in the film’s journey. They don’t have to be involved throughout pre-production however understanding why certain elements work, or previously didn’t, might help.
A composer’s head and heart must work in counterpoint, and I make an effort to let a composer run with an idea revolving around some parameters. On a recent job, I let the composer choose a genre that not only worked for the spot but was one they also liked, rather than pushing an idea or emotion. Collaborators don’t necessarily need to be musically descriptive, especially if they’re not musicians. I’m a big believer in ‘what do you want to feel and where’. Our clients can communicate a brief to me and then I can take that to my composers. As a composer myself, I feel like this gives us an added edge over some of the other music and sound houses.