treatment by

Anders Hallberg
Mortgages can be a mystery. 2 out of 5 young people don’t understand how a mortgage works and because of it most struggle to spot a good deal. Signing up for a mortgage can be a confusing process that knocks your confidence and creates a real barrier to buying a home. Am I getting a good deal? Are there any hidden costs or surprises down the road? I mean I still feel like that after a few mortgages under my belt and more candles on my birthday cake than I like to think. Nothing can be more stressful than trying to decipher the fine prints, but with Banco Sabadell there’s a simple solution – you can have all of that explained to you without any obligation. Although we might take the mystery out of mortgaging we’re not taking the magic away.
With the risk of sounding offensive – mortgages are far from sexy so what we need is a film that works as an antidote to boredom – one that’s beautiful and unexpected. Building on the brand’s heritage we’ll have intimate portraits of people in black in white. To me though it’s important that these portraits are dynamic and we also need to get a sense of our characters’ backstories – this is real life. As discussed on the call we’ll anchor our concept in the key visual – the act of signing. I have also taken the liberty to tweak the VO in an alternative version so that it will serve as a guiding backbone to our story. We’ll show that in the land of the unknown, Banco Sabadell takes responsibility by providing a superior product and information that’s so clear that all you need to do is sign it! Let’s have a little fun with it.
What really got me about this idea are the many creative angles we can explore to show how Sabadell demystifies mortgaging without being preachy or a snooze fest. I see this as a highly sophisticated film that also has warmth –
a hopeful and fresh film. So we’re going a little bold by creating a unique and energetic visual language. But to me taking out a mortgage, regardless of how easy you make it, is an emotional experience. Behind the decision of buying a house is a dream, a wish, or a fresh start. It’s a heartfelt decision so it’s incredibly important to me that we build our stories on genuine characters and that we dive into their lives if only for a few seconds. We can all talk about execution and which angles and camera techniques might be best but if we don’t create relatable characters and an emotional nerve we fall flat. It’s how the product that we are selling gets a clear, central role. I believe the VO will create the backbone of this film and that it needs to carry the message without being too detailed and speak “bank”. I also would like to make sure we stay away from a VO that’s trying to speak “cool” – this product is already pretty cool so no need to push it.
It’s when we find the sweet spot between a relatable VO and an emotional visual story where we’ll shape little unexpected worlds where our characters come to life – where we breathe some color into our modern, black and white world. This is also how we give our audience a gentle nudge – make an appointment, talk to an expert at Banco Sabadell, overcome that knot of nerves in your stomach, get a good mortgage deal, and sign it!
We’ll build on the brand’s strong heritage in communication – we’ll be close to our people. Our film will be cinematic. Short depth of field that automatically puts the main characters in focus and emphasizes why we need a mortgage and how easy it is to sign it when the information is crystal clear. Also with a narrow depth of field and using wider lenses and staying close to our characters, we can build an intense presence as if we’re inside the people’s personal sphere.
And the camera will reflect that. The camera is moving at a slightly different tempo than our characters, almost as if it wants to tell us something about the characters that we can’t quite make out on the screen.
This is not a sentimental film about the past, this is the future of banking. This is a film about transparency, liberation of the old and the ease of understanding – simply sign.
Shooting in black and white will also be a nod to your past since the audience will instantly know who’s behind this campaign. And Sabadell is very much the future – a trailblazer. I imagine a naturalistic look that is more about being in the present with full focus on our cast. We’ll have blacks and highlights that still have details. In everyday life, people, the way we perceive them, are just lit by the environments surrounding them so if we take the same approach to our film and create beautifully lit environments, the people will also be beautifully lit without it ever feeling artificial.
As I’ve hinted earlier, I have developed the story and VO in order to strike an emotional chord that corresponds to how people feel about getting a mortgage, as we always get a mortgage for a reason. But of course it’s still all about the product and the clarity in communication – it’s only when you understand the product that you’ll easily go ahead and sign it. So in the name of clarity I have written down the story in a very linear way but it’s during the edit where we’ll tease out the real pulse of the film. This is when we make sure we keep the audience on their toes, engaged and alert so that the message is loud and clear. I sign it. That said I’m of course open to discussing and massaging my approach, but this is my vision of how we can make the key visual of the signature fresh in each scene.
We open on a big family sitting together on a couch for three in a small living room. The couch is seemingly over capacity to say the least. There’s no way they can all fit but they’re still OK. Mom is trying to squeeze down in the middle and has to fish out a few remotes from the couch in order to fit. Teenage daughter is on her phone, the younger twins are picking a fight and the grandparents are sitting on each side of the armrest to fit, while dad is trying to arrange the seating as if setting up to get their picture taken. Suddenly we’re looking at the ceiling, with the entire family looking down at us into camera as if we're the mortgage contract. The mom puts her signature on the contract into camera and they reach the contract/camera around euphorically as they celebrate. Cut to them packing up and moving out, carrying heavy boxes and loading into a moving truck outside.
An old gentleman is getting into his swim trunks and putting on swim goggles. He holds up an old picture to the camera, with his goggles on still, showing a younger version of himself in a grainy picture as a champion swimmer in his youth. He lowers the picture and behind it we reveal a beautiful new swimming pool. He smiles while he gets ready to dive in for a few lapse but before he does, we see him sign in an abstract way overlaid on our shot.
A couple in their 50s arrive with their bicycles in front of their city apartment and park them against the wall of the building. They sit down in their tiny kitchen and we go into an extreme close-up of the pen the guy is holding in his hand. We are SUPER close to the tip of the pen as we see the ink being absorbed by the paper of a mortgage contract. Cut to the same couple as they’re taking off on modern road bikes from the garage of their new home. They overtake and fly past us on a country road.
A young girl in a wheelchair speeds past us on a basketball court. She's playing with other disabled kids and passes the ball to her friends. Her single mom stands on the side of the court and cheers her on energetically. Cut to them standing in a brand-new apartment. The daughter looks super happy as she effortlessly rides through a door frame in this wheelchair-friendly apartment. We cut to a lonely fridge standing in the kitchen with a magnet holding a piece of paper with her mom’s signature.
We follow a busy guy in his 30s as he's on the phone while walking, writes emails, gets in and out of taxis, grabs quick business lunches. A message pops up on his phone, it's his girlfriend sending him a house suggestion. He smiles. We cut to see his signature written in the blue sky as he and his girlfriend run towards their dream holiday home.
Man in his 50s is parked by a run-down apartment building. He beeps his horn while looking up towards an open window on the 2nd floor where an elderly woman sticks her head out to greet him and he waves to come down. His parents eventually come out and they take off. They drive past tiny, beautiful houses in a rural area with a lot of greenery. The mom can't stop looking at the houses they pass and she is completely fascinated by them. The son is amused in the most cute way when observing her in the rearview mirror while driving. He reaches for the glove compartment and pulls up a contract and hands it over to his parents. We see a signature in the corner. They look down to read it and can't believe what they are reading. They look back up and the son is already parking the car and gets out, waving at them to come look at their new house. The parents are still in shock.
A young couple are looking at a screen together as a nurse moves the wand around the pregnant stomach of the woman during an ultrasound. The couple share a look of love as we make out the shape of the baby on the screen. When the nurse adjusts and moves the wand, we reveal a second baby. Twins! We cut back to the young couple driving in silence before they burst out laughing. We see them again as they arrive at a car dealership with their cute, vintage Fiat 500. The car dealer waves them off as the young couple take off in a minivan. Smiling and beeping their horn.
We have a unique and energetic tone that is part of every frame and now we need to, in a very uncomplicated and aesthetic way, land with the characters to feel how their world changes with a Sabadell mortgage. Sabadell’s crystal clear communication is the seed to the whole campaign and by including a diverse cast we show that this product has a place in modern Spain and it’s for everyone. When it comes to the age range though I would prefer if we take a realistic approach – most people in the market for a mortgage are in their 30s-60s so let’s use that as our guiding star. I love referring to an independent movie in a way where we really need true characters. People that leave a memorable impression simply from how they look. Screen presence is key and we all know the feeling of someone walking into a room and simply owning the space. That’s who we need. In contrast to the shy and introverted one. It is all about contrast. Ying and Yang.
Let’s keep the brief as open as we can and find people who have a natural presence and feel unique in the way that they don’t always follow trends but their hearts, and they act (and react) according to their moods. This demands the same mental preparation as when you approach a feature film role. Even if they might only be on screen for a few seconds it should feel as if they have a fully fleshed backstory – we should easily be able to turn the camera on either one of them and deep dive into their lives. Needless to say we need actors who can project a lot of emotions through very simple means.
It’s the encouraging and straightforward tone in the campaign that I want to capture. There are two directions we can take – we can go bold. Compose a score that ebbs and flows along with our edit. Maybe even stops entirely when people say: I sign it. Or a score that’s more emotional – a simple melody that flows – an easygoing and simple melody that captures a sense of hopefulness and simplicity. Life is complicated enough as it is, right? I normally don’t want to share a particular song at this stage as I think that one of the most wonderful things about music is that we can test variations during the edit so we land in something that feels 100% right. Let’s not lock ourselves in now, but… if I was to decide, I would pick a beautiful piece of music that is sparse, hopeful and very emotional.
As a first example that comes to mind, maybe something along the lines of Agnes Obel’s that will be beautiful in additional to the soft spoken and non-forced VO:
Through the soundscape we’ll build a really rich and vibrant world. We should hear the noise of everyday life – we don’t make decisions in a vacuum. As grownups we make decisions when the kids are screaming, in the middle of traffic, during breakfast etc etc etc, you get my drift. Instead we should play with silences. It’s in the pauses where Sabadell’s power is undeniable, then we cut the crap, when we speak clearly.
The edit is smooth and transitional. We move seamlessly between the scenes as life plays out in front of our eyes. It goes without saying that we can try different longer versions too for other media outputs like YouTube or Instagram for example.
Diversity of locations underlines just that and I will approach the location scout the same way I would for a stills shoot – finding the aesthetically intriguing that helps shape a fully-fledged, diverse world. Through art and wardrobe we’ll of course enhance this. We shouldn’t go too far – I would prefer if we keep it simple – just a few personal artifacts and a wardrobe that is tailored to each character and to their hopes and dreams.
We are all from different walks of life but we can all unite in the fact that behind every mortgage there’s a story. It might not always be a heartfelt one, it might be a calculating one, a smart one – but there’s always a story.
We are all from different walks of life but we can all unite in the fact that behind every mortgage there’s a story. It might not always be a heartfelt one, it might be a calculating one, a smart one – but there’s always a story. Diversity of locations underlines just that and I will approach the location scout the same way I would for a stills shoot – finding the aesthetically intriguing that helps shape a fully-fledged, diverse world. Through art and wardrobe we’ll of course enhance this. We shouldn’t go too far – I would prefer if we keep it simple – just a few personal artifacts and a wardrobe that is tailored to each character and to their hopes and dreams.
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