Our wonderful director Matt McDermott is a master at combining graphically composed live action with stylised art direction and visual effects. This can be seen to great effect on the campaign we worked on with Agency McGarry Bowen for Western Union. In this blog, we dissect the project from Matt’s point of view, and give a start to finish breakdown of how he made the magic happen…


What was the project?

We needed to tell the story that with Western Union money is easily and quickly sent around the world. With the push of button you can do a lot of exciting things such as; sorting out birthday presents, sending urgent funds, fixing a burst water pipe or a last minute wedding gift, you can do it all with Western Union.

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Art Department hand drawn mock ups & final outcome.

The Treatment

With this stylised and stripped back aesthetic and confident palette I wanted to help to change the image of Western Union from a logistical company used for wiring money to a modern, fun brand. 

As these ads played out as YouTube Pre Rolls I wanted the first 5 seconds to grab attention and to keep the viewers watching with a fun onslaught of imagery with bright colours and quirky objects which are playfully juxtaposed.


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Art Department mock up & final outcome


What We Did

We created striking and mesmerising images such as; an eclectic range of objects falling in super slow motion against colourful backgrounds.

To really appreciate the stunning image of the eclectic objects falling through the air we shot them on a Phantom in super slow motion (up to 1000fps) and then composited some of the objects together in post. 

Each vignette/set of objects have their own unique colour palette yet they all link together as a cohesive whole.




What I liked

I love shooting live action with such a graphic stylised approach. Shooting elements that in real time only last a split second but when played back in super slow motion they take on a mesmerising and hypnotic quality. 


The Challenge

The agency and creatives were great to work with but our biggest challenge was the amount we had to shoot in a one day - x2 15” spots and a 30”. 

We had a lot of objects to shoot individually and a lot of different set ups and set changes. 

To be the most efficient we could be on the day and enable all departments to move quickly and effectively I created very detailed 3D Previs for each spot. 



This not only helped a huge amount in selling it into the client and agency but helped all departments on the shoot in terms of knowing the timings of each shot in the edit, the approximate framing for camera and the art direction approach. 

This meant I could move with only one or two takes per shot as we were all sold into the look and approach prior to the shoot. 

I remember we only had a couple of takes on the cricket stumps and Stevie (1st AD) hit them square on his second attempt and that was the shot we used. Legend! 




The Result

A very happy agency and client! 

To some extent these films were under the radar of the main agency campaigns at the time but with these striking and refreshingly different films they helped to steer the brand into a more fun, exciting and ultimately more brave advertising style and tone of voice.


Crew & Agency

Agency: McGarryBowen

Director:  Matt Mcdermott

Producer: Jess Metzelaar

Production Manager: Lou Gallagher

1st Assistant Director: Stevie Fylan

DOP: Tim Green

Focus Puller: Ben Oliver

2nd AC: Sean Lomax

Camera Technician: Matt Jones

DIT: Chester Lilley

VT OP: Duncan Lees

Gaffer: Russ Greenhalgh

Sparks: Ian Sykes & Glenn Carvath

Art Director: Maz Staruch

Art Assistant: Jack Brooks

Animal Trainer: Jo Vaughn


If you have an upcoming project that you’d like the Gate to help bring to life, be sure to contact us

Insight  Director  Case Study  Film Production