In the garden of a picturesque cottage during a freezing winter, a young brother and sister put finishing touches to a snowman and snow woman. It's a quintessentially British scene - but was filmed in New Zealand over five days last July, the peak of winter there. Location scouts found a stone cottage near Queenstown, built by a Scot who emigrated to South Island 90 years ago. 'The snow was already there, but we used computers to fill in any patches,' says the ad's creative director Ben Priest. As festive TV traditions go, John Lewis’s Christmas advert is becoming as much of a ritual as the Queen’s message. Here, TANITH CAREY reveals the surprising secrets behind this year’s £6 million extravaganza . . .
When the children are called in, the snow couple gaze into each other's eyes. The 5ft 9in tall pair are really made of polyurethane, and there are four models: one female and three male because the snowman needed different poses. His nose is a carrot, his eyes coal and twigs give his mouth its expressions. Mrs Snowman's nose is a parsnip, her eyes pine cones and her mouth red wool. Today, the models are in England - and are likely to go on display in stores
Next morning, the little girl (played by six-year-old New Zealand actress Georgia Haskell) opens her curtains to see only the snow woman - looking forlornly at the spot where her admirer stood. To achieve poignant emotions, different eyes, noses and mouths were used on the models.
We discover what's happened to Mr Snowman - he's trekking up an icy road through a snowy wilderness. But what's he looking for? He passes a British postbox - along with road signs and a red phone box, which were sourced from a local prop house. But how did they get the snowman to move? Ad man Ben says: 'The point is you never see him move. Every time you come back to him, he has magically made more progress.'
As he continues his journey, Mr Snowman is left shocked and flustered when he encounters a flock of sheep. The advert makers tracked down a Welsh breed being farmed in New Zealand. But it still wasn't easy. 'The sheep were all terrified of the snowman because they don't usually come across tall white bits of plastic and a film crew very often,' explains Ben. 'To get them to run around the snowman, the sheep farmer needed three sheepdogs.'
John Lewis The The storm begins to bite and, as the wind whips up and the snow swirls, our hero narrows his eyes in determination. Nothing's going to stop him. Behind the scenes, even though there was a real thick blanket of snow, the team used snow machines to create the treacherous conditions. They also used a different model of the snowman, which leaned forward to battle the wind.
But what's this? A fast-moving and icy stream is in Mr Snowman's path. How can he navigate this hazard? But, to his astonishment, a robin settles on his twig arm and gives him the strength to keep going. And while the twig was real - albeit made of steel so it could be bent into different poses, the robin wasn't. These British birds don't exist in New Zealand - so digital technology was used to create it on a computer later on.
The stream is conquered, but it's not over for our snowman, who now has a 10,000ft mountain to deal with. But he manages to scale it and, from the summit, can see the twinkly lights of a town down below. There's more trickery afoot here from the ad-makers, because the mountain is not even in New Zealand, admits Ben. It's stock footage that then had Mr Snowman superimposed on to it. The town he sees also doesn't exist - it was computer-generated over a shot of a lush, green valley.
Our snowy star has to brave a motorway before reaching the town. Terrified by the Christmas shoppers and snowball fights, he cowers behind a bin. But while the motorway has 'M1 South' signs on it and the revellers seem to be in a typical English High Street, it's really Auckland with British signs stuck to lamp-posts, while snow machines created the white stuff.
Mr Snowman smiles up at the Christmas lights of a shop - his destination. He's wearing a green checked scarf from John Lewis. Mr Snowman is invisible to adults but can be seen by children. 'Although a little boy in the crowd spots him, the grown-up shoppers swirling around him are oblivious,' says Ben.
Magically transported back home, though looking the worse for wear, Mr Snowman is reunited with his love. The ad-makers distressed his white body with patches of grey to show the ordeal he'd been through. They hope the ad, called The Journey, will repeat the success of last year's campaign - which lifted festive sales by 9.3 per cent.
We finally learn what our hero's epic journey was for: he went through it all to buy a Christmas gift for his wife. And she's delighted - proudly wearing her smart John Lewis red beret, polka-dot scarf and gloves, while some wrapping paper and a bow are discarded nearby.
With our couple holding hands, the 90-second ad, which is set to the strains of 20-year-old Gabrielle Aplin singing The Power Of Love, comes to an end. Just like last year's John Lewis advert, featuring a boy desperate for Christmas to come so he can give his parents their gift, this one should have viewers reaching for their tissues. 'We never set out to make the viewers cry,' insists Ben. 'But we have a responsibility to create something special.' source: dailymail
How they made TV's most heart-melting Christmas ad: Surprising secrets behind this year's £6million John Lewis extravaganza
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