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Making of the big match

By The Drum | Administrator

April 9, 2004 | 3 min read

The brief was to show Carling’s unrivalled understanding of football. Draft in mega-stars? Nope, too Nike. Play on dreams? Nah, too Carlsberg. Perhaps get 1000 odd football fanatics to charge around the streets for a few days in the middle of winter with little more than underwear on? It had to be Carling. It had to be Glasgow. Real football, in a real city.

It’s imposing skyline and ‘energetic’ locals lent themselves magically to the filming, and the results were often breathtaking. John Cook, account director at Leith London, offers his account of the shoot – the biggest ever commercial to be shot in this fair country.

We had four days to shoot the film and only seven hours each day of workable light. Apparently the question was when, not if, we would get snow blizzards, driving rain and cold winds.

Between the storms we were to shoot the biggest ever football match captured on film. And we had no weather insurance, which was a little worrying given that it was January in Glasgow.

The first morning was grey not white, which was a good start. We were in the middle of one of Glasgow’s ‘dodgy’ areas and while having a cup of tea in the local café we were cheerfully informed of recent murders and stabbings.

When we arrived on-set, we were greeted by the site of a thousand Glaswegian men and women of all shapes and sizes standing there topless (the women were in bra’s) and freezing. We watched captivated as for four days they ran, like lunatics, around sub-zero Glasgow chasing a football.

The backdrop of Glasgow city centre was beautifully stark, and intimidating. It reminded of me New York in many ways, with its billowing steam framed against the blue sky. But the Glaswegian extra’s made this film. They provided the exuberance and the joy.

Each day the weather seemed to get sunnier and sunnier. On the final day, the ball fell by chance to one of the skins extras and he volleyed home and punched the air. Yes! Everyone went ballistic and it was brilliant because we managed to catch it on one of the cameras.

The making of The Carling Big Match

ïWe had three assistant directors who co-ordinated the extras using megaphones.

ïEight runners on hand

ï 1,000 extras.

ïMost extras were street cast and hadn't done anything similar before.

ïWe chose Glasgow as Kevin had shot there before and we knew that the people would be up for running around with their tops off in January, the local authorities are very helpful shutting roads etc.

ïThis is the biggest TV commercial ever filmed in Scotland.

ïSix policemen, ten security, two loud hailers to control the people, ten crowd controllers, 40 radio telephones.Closed three streets around Pitt Street and three streets in Govan.

ïThree cameras on tops of buildings, on vehicles, on towers, on steadicam.

ï1001 extras (literally, that was our final number). Half a dozen real footballers from local clubs.

ï1500 sandwiches at morning tea? (that's a complete guess but probably right!!)

ï30 footballs.

ï 1 dog.

ï1500 of those silver emergency space blankets to keep them warm between takes.

ïThe only casualty was one of the extra’s prescription glasses - smashed in the crowd.

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