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Tom Tagholm directs C4's Meet the Superhumans film

Tom Tagholm directs C4's Meet the Superhumans film
Staff Reporter
18 July 2012

Channel 4 has launched its biggest ever marketing campaign, to promote coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with the premiere of its Meet the Superhumans film across 78 television channels.


The 90-second film went out last night at 9.00pm concurrently across 78 different UK television channels, including all of Channel 4's networks, ITV1, Five, Sky One, Eurosport and all of UKTV's channels.

Set to the track, Harder Than You Think by hip hop band, Public Enemy, the film showcases the abilities of some of the leading UK Paralympians, represents some of the stories behind the elite athletes and shows the huge efforts that have gone into their preparation for the Games.

The campaign was commissioned by Channel 4 marketing, and conceived and directed by Tom Tagholm, for Channel 4's in-house agency, 4creative. VFX and post production were by MPC and edit facilities provided by Stitch.

Dan Brooke, Channel 4's chief marketing & communications officer says, "London 2012 is a coming of age moment for the Paralympics and this marketing campaign is designed to help bring a whole new audience to it, and may even raise a goosebump or two along the way."

The new TV campaign is the second phase in Channel 4's marketing campaign for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which began earlier this month with a series of promotional trails introducing leading British Paralympic athletes and Paralympic themed Channel 4 idents. In the build-up to the Games, the campaign will also encompass major outdoor poster, press and digital activity.
Notes to Editors:

Full creative credits for the Meet the Superhumans campaign are as follows:

Channel 4 Marketing:

Acting head of Marketing: James Walker


Director / creative: Tom Tagholm

Producer: Gwilym Gwilym

Producer: Rory Fry

Cinematographer: Luke Scott

Production designer: Will Htay

Casting director: Julie Tomkins

Costume designer: Wiz Francis

Location manager: Algy Sloane

Production manager: Simon Maniora

Business director: Olivia Browne

Editor: Tim Hardy

Edit facilities: Stitch

VFX/post production: MPC

VFX producer: Tim Phillips

VFX supervisor: Michael Gregory

Grade: Jean-Clement Soret

Audio: Rich Martin

Audio facilities: Envy

The shoot took place over 14 days in sports arenas across the country from the Sheffield Aquatics centre to Lee Valley Athletics Centre to the Olympic stadium, to the home of the Paralympics: Stoke Mandeville.

Talking to a Channel 4 blogger, director Tom Tagholm describes the making of the show, from brief to edit:

“The brief came in towards the end of last year and obviously it was a pretty big one. And as with any brief for Channel 4 – but really more so on this than on any other – we knew we had to make some noise. We knew we had add some edge and grit and attitude.

“And so we narrowed it down to about four or five concepts that we thought could be really strong, but then someone came up with this line – ‘Meet The Superhumans’. We really loved the attitude and the scale and the confidence of it. So we just built up from there to create the strongest, the most impactful concept we could get to run across TV and posters and online and in the press.

“You always have challenges when making films. We did about 15 or 16 days shooting in total, which is a hell of a lot for a project like this. We filmed at a lot of Paralympic test events which was very tricky in terms of access and how close we could get to the competitors and what sort of camera angles we could find that were new and felt special. It was a case of all the camera operators and myself keeping our eyes open at all times because there were people that we found and moments that we saw that we could have never predicted.

“And as well as the live sport scenes, we also storyboarded some of the more iconic shots from the very beginning. There’s one shot of a swimmer diving in to the pool with a camera strapped to her back – we had to invent a rig that allowed the camera to not only go in the water with her but to be sufficiently separated from the rest of her body so that you could see the whole of her back and head and arms as she made her way in to the water.

“There’s also another slow mo shot of two wheelchair rugby chairs crashing crash in to each other. We were shooting that on Phantom cameras and knew that we had to get right in to the middle of the crash, which meant some really careful choreography and great set design. It was a really tricky balance trying to get that feeling of absolute naturalism whilst at the same time trying to get right in the heart of the action.

“But whether it was a live sport shot or a storyboarded shot – we really didn’t want to shoot around the particular physical attributes of these athletes and their disabilities. We wanted to absolutely embrace all of that – their stance, the ways they’ve adapted to their sport, the ways that they use their bodies. It’s very much ‘Here we are!’ y’know? There’s no tiptoeing around anything.

“As for the scenes in the middle with the explosion and car crash and the mother in the hospital –we thought long and hard about how to include them because one thing that we weren’t interested at all in doing was an advert which said ‘Isn’t it great that these guys have made it to the start line?’ That just didn’t interest me and I don’t think it interested the channel.

“What I wanted to do though was just get a flashback moment – to show that it’s a part of what they are now and a part of their physicality. I didn’t want to dwell on it, just to give a hint, a moment of just how tough these characters have had to be. I could have put those scenes at the beginning or the end of the trailer but I think it’d have been weirdly less impactful that way – having them where they are stops you right in your tracks and hits you in the face.”


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