play the music and enjoy the treatment
Remembering the past is fundamental to being human and very much to myself as I’m very nostalgic about the past but at the same time excited about the future. Memories shape our identity, make us sociable and also help us function in the wider society. But as we look towards the future, it’s key to pick the best bits of our shared history and build on them. Over the last 100 years Canadian Tire has done just that. Continued to evolve alongside the people it serves while building a sense of community and at the same time always staying true to the values it holds – a collaborative spirit, a deep sense of inclusion and support for its customers in unexpected ways.
A celebratory tone shapes our campaign that we’ll tell with a childlike curiosity about the world around us. With intimate portraits of the people who make up Canada we’ll tell a cinematic story that is deeply grounded in reality. CT is the community of Canada and a company present in so many different cities with a heart this big deserves a film that’s not just another commercial.
So, this isn’t your typical brand anthem, this is an emotional and fluent journey that shows how inclusive CT will continue to be as our world develops. “Ahead by a century” will not just be the musical score but also carry the whole storyline with its powerful and well known lyrics that guides us through the narrative as the film plays out.
I really like the honesty and innocence that comes from seeing the world through the eyes of a child and I’ll underline that in a visual language that is bright and optimistic. We should not be afraid to test out some slightly whimsical elements – children’s worlds are of course slightly less restrained than for us mortal grownups. But most importantly, it should feel as if we’re visually eavesdropping on our characters. Fingers that dig into the tree trunk, a hand stretched out towards the friend, the maple key floating in the air, the bike chain clicking into place. We’re observing our people with a heightened sense of presence where their characteristics and moods are almost amplified so that we feel what they are feeling. We are there with them just as CT is there for them and they are there for one another.
I love the idea of using exciting and fluent camera moves that bring energy into our film and connect it all. Footage from FPV drones (or at least a less crazy version of it) is a good example of the sense of freedom I want to convey when we follow the maple key from scene to scene. The camera should feel as if it’s floating through the air in a natural way, not a perfectly planned technical-feeling movement. The maple key itself should be fully 3D whenever it’s flying, so we have complete control over its movement in post, and so that we can dial in the level of animation – should it fly in a calm and subtle way or be slightly more animated and fun?
Without getting too technical, there are two different ways we could shoot this film: One is to do a proper one-taker where we never seem to cut. We observe a scene as if we were standing right next to our heroes, and when the action is over we run or fly off to the next scene. We time both the action and the transitions so that they match the lyrics and perfectly fit within our 60 seconds, and create a camera rig that allows us to smoothly switch between a camera that’s close to our actors on the ground and a drone type of camera that can just take off.

The second way, which is what I suggest, is to do a mix of transitional camera moves and regular storytelling. Here we would keep the beautiful shots in which we follow the maple key from scene to scene, but once we arrive somewhere we tell the story in a traditional way with cuts, which allows us to go into beautiful, intimate portraits and macro details, and closeups that will give us plenty of expressive moments that are full of heart and charm, and it will allow us to use reaction shots, over-the-shoulder shots, etc.
The reason your concept works so well is because you get the strong feeling that everyone is connected through their shared Canadian values. This feeling is of course enhanced by the song, but mainly created by the visual link of the maple key that takes us from place to place until we come back to where we started. For this to work we simply need the beautifully smooth transitional shots that pick us up in one scene and drop us off in the next one – they connect everyone while giving us a sense of space as we move through the neighborhood. For me this doesn’t require the vignettes themselves to be one-takers as long as we respect the concept and carefully plan the movement of the maple key. For example we would show the maple key fly off in the last shot of one of the vignettes, and then match-cut in the movement to a transitional shot that follows it as it flies through the sky on its way to the next scene.
I like the solutions you have come up with in your deck to create shorter versions of the 60 second one-taker without having to re-shoot a shorter one-taker with fewer scenes in it. Using the end part of the 60” film for a 15”, or cutting from scene to scene works really well for these formats where we simply don’t have time to transition from place to place, but rather want to focus on our many diverse heroes.

If we go for the second option that I have mentioned in the previous part of the treatment, where we use regular cuts within scenes, we have more freedom to cut the shorter versions while keeping the concept of transitioning from scene to scene with the maple key. We would only need to shoot additional transitional shots in different combinations, going from the first scene directly to the third or fourth scene for example. We will carefully plan and shoot the different transitional shots we need to have a good amount of options in the edit.
I usually use “CHARACTERS” as the headline here but this isn’t the usual film as this is truly about real people. Your references you shared are from some of my favorite films as the casting is so spot on. In our film each person will only have a few seconds to grab our attention, to draw us into their world and their emotions so I’ll spend a lot of time finding the perfect people. I’ll be looking for people who can really carry their scene, people who stand out but at the same time represent the everyday person. It’s a fine balance, but something I’m super passionate about and it’s totally doable.

Of course diversity is key to reflect CT’s inclusive spirit but it can never feel forced as we simply can’t end up in advertising land even though we obviously want to “tick many boxes” for all the right reasons. Let’s open up the casting brief as much as we possibly can so instead of finding people who tick certain boxes we focus on those who make us feel something, a certain magnetic screen presence. It could be a person with a unique appearance, or someone who is very emotive – who can show us what they are feeling and thinking through a raised eyebrow, a side glance or even a tap of the finger. All characters need to feel three dimensional as if we could easily turn our camera on them and dive into their lives.
For this concept to really hit home we need really natural performances and it’s of course my job to make that happen. I’ll set up a complete scene from beginning to end and let them play it out in full length. This way we avoid the start-stop performances that are quite common in commercials. It will also give us a very genuine flow.

I’ll make sure that the cast brings a lot of themselves on set as well. I can easily adapt the scenes to fit them – do the people pass the soil to the right or left? Does the hockey player turn left or right before she starts running? Little ways that they can be free in their movements that allow them to express themselves without restrictions for a genuine feel. I also find snappy ways of working so we have a flow on set instead of getting stuck somewhere. I’m all about shooting more – which is crucial as we have a lot of scenes to nail.

Being communicative on set is key, and I will work closely with our actors. We’ll be able to try out things on the go so that we move away from acting, and towards reacting. It’s a small shift but I think it makes all the difference to a film where performances need to be very authentic. We totally get how CT could fit into their lives and into ours too.
I see how much effort has gone into fine tuning this story to match how CT supports the community at large and I really like the script. It might be that we together come up with little tweaks as we start pre-production, getting into the casting and storyboarding, but let’s discuss all of that together. For now my focus will be on bringing genuine emotions to life and finding technical solutions to the storytelling that never feel technical.
A young girl is sitting on a large tree branch. Bright sunlight sieve through the leaves, illuminating the scene. Beneath her a younger boy is struggling to climb up. His feet slip and he just can’t find the grip he needs. The girl stretches out her hand towards her friend to help him up.
Finally the young boy manages to climb up and sit down next to her – he exhales. The young girl twirls a maple key in her fingers, they smile and look out over their kingdom. This is their universe. She sends the maple key floating down.
The maple key floats down to a yard where two kids are sitting next to a bike that’s been turned upside down. One of the kids is teaching the other how to fix the chain through sign language.
The chain finally clicks into place, the wheel spins smoothly and the deaf friend signs “good job”.
The key blows into a backyard where a young girl is standing on a homemade stage giving a speech to her friends. Behind her on the fence is a hand painted poster that reads: Ava for Prime Minister.
A slight gust of wind sends the key floating and twirling higher and higher until it passes a rooftop garden. The golden rays of sunlight momentarily blind us before we make out a neighborhood group planting vegetables on the rooftop. They work closely together, talking and joking as they go.
The key floats down to a residential street where an impromptu neighborhood game of street hockey is going on. The sound of the sticks hitting the ground bounces between the houses. Feet move swiftly over tarmac. Suddenly the goalie makes an incredible save. In a celebratory move she whips off her helmet and we see a young middle eastern girl. Her eyes glitter – she won!
We see her parents walking toward a neighboring house. They wave for the girl to join them. She runs toward them just as the neighbor welcomes them into his yard with a smile. The maple key floats with them. The camera goes wide and we reveal a sign that says: Welcome to Canada.
The backyard is buzzing with life – filled with people from the neighborhood waiting to welcome the new family.
The key now floats up and up back to the original tree where the boy and girl watch over the party. The girl wraps her arm around the boy and the camera continues up past the tree and into the sky.
Every so often you get a script like this when your heart starts beating a little bit faster. When the locations aren’t just a backdrop or a playing field but very much part of the story. We are establishing a feeling of traveling through Canada and the variety of locations of course speaks to the breadth of different people that CT serves. But Canada is of course a beautiful country and our locations will reflect with out going overboard. We should feel the warmth of the sun trickling through the leaves of the majestic tree, and almost smell the grass in the backyard – locations that are filled with light. CT will then further cement itself as an advocate for sustainability and a natural part of the Canadian landscape. When it comes to props we’ll of course use products from CT but avoid it feeling like product placement at all costs. We won’t linger on the products and only incorporate them where it feels natural.
I can only nod and smile in agreement to make this spot so cleverly music driven. To go for Ahead by a Century is just totally, totally perfect. We have a crazy good opportunity here to create a unique composition that will be strongly tied together with CT and act as a hero in the film too, guiding us towards a better future. As mentioned I took a similar approach to a Swedish techno song for my film for the Swedish Railways. Like Ahead by a Century, the song I used was by a famous Swedish artist and was incredibly well known. Young and old could sing along to it. By using lyrics almost like a VO people suddenly really hear the words and they take on a much deeper, more profound meaning. To further bring the message of the words to the forefront, I like the idea of using a childrens’ choir. The purity and innocence of the voices carry a genuine optimism and choirs are also one of the most natural melting pots there are.

Creating a rich soundscape is also a huge part in telling a very authentic and immersive story. We should hear the rustle in the leaves, the scraping of hockey clubs on the tarmac, the shuffling of feet when passing the soil to the next person. This way we also add another layer of authenticity.
So I’m Swedish which of course makes me not Canadian. But I believe that Swedes and Canadians have a lot in common. Besides being amazing at ice hockey and women’s football our cultures also share similar sensibilities. Humility (besides when it comes to sports), welcoming spirits and inclusiveness are sort of ingrained in our societies, which will also be the backbone to our film. Although I have as a general rule never to mention what our film won’t be, I have to break my own rule in this instance just to say: this campaign will not be sentimental. We won’t dwell in the past or what CT has stood for during the last 100 years. Nope – we’ll be excited about what’s to come. I see these as emotional and optimistic snapshots of people who make Canada even better just by working together. These are just my initial thoughts that I look forward to developing further together with you.
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