Harriett Maire serves up 'Jam on toast' and pulls on family heartstrings.
It's wonderful when you get to produce a job that is a complete smile-maker. Harriett chats through her process of capturing the unfiltered fun.
'You know what they say - never work with children or animals. I disagree! I think of it as the ultimate director’s test.
When directing children, you’ve got to think a bit like a child. You have to understand that your questions might not be interpreted the way you’d expect, and their answers will make you think about things in an entirely different light.
Collaborating with Kelly Putter and the team at Rainger & Rolfe to bring this Mother Earth campaign to life was a treat. I wanted to celebrate the beauty and chaos of a child’s imagination - no filters, no limitations. As we grow up, we lose a bit of that, so directing this campaign was a lovely opportunity to lean into the whimsy once again. The earnest honesty of this project was a real joy to helm.
The moment I was briefed on this project, I knew that building trust with the kids was the most important thing. The more face time I could get in with the kids before the shoot day, the better the performances would be. So I was deeply involved from the get-go.
I contacted parents directly and ran the audition room myself. By the time the shoot day rolled around, the parents and kids involved felt comfortable and familiar with me and a camera. I added in an extra step by running a creative workshop before the shoot, where the kids put together the masterpiece drawings of their parents. The drawings were kept as a sneaky surprise for the parents on the day, which built further trust between each kid and me, gleefully anticipating their parent’s response to their portrait.
On the day, as well as the parents not knowing their children had drawn portraits celebrating their best qualities, the kids also didn’t know their parents were overhearing their answers. It required a lot of careful planning and location choreography to keep these moments a surprise until the camera was rolling.
None of the kids’ answers were scripted or rehearsed! CD Kelly Putter and myself prepared a big list of questions ahead of time, categorised into sections that would get us answers ranging from emotive to imaginative. Then it was just about curating a space in studio that the kids felt comfortable in and ensuring they felt confident to say exactly what they thought with no consideration of consequence.
We were shooting in a beautiful wooden studio space, which created a lot of depth and texture. That made a big difference on the day - it didn’t feel vacuous or neutral, it felt warm and safe. The crew worked hard to create a beautiful, nostalgic, comfortable space for the kids. They also worked hard to stifle their laughs across the day - those kids were priceless.
Digging into this campaign was a real joy. Working with Kelly is always a treat, and Gary Sims brought out the best of everyone in the edits. In such tumultuous, frightening times, it was very special to celebrate and uplift the pure love between parent and child. Whether we have direct experience as a parent or not, we were all children once, and we’re all fluent in the language of family' - Harriett Maire.
We Speak Family - Mother Earth
Agency/ Rainger & Rolfe
Creative Director - Kelly Putter
Director - Harriett Maire
Producer - Ivan Barge/Bex Richardson
DP - Richard Parsonson
Editor - Gary Sims