Here, a young man eats a croissant and feels so energetic that he runs the complete stretch of the running of the bulls. It sounds simple enough in outline but not so easy in practise. First of all, because lately, Pamplona City Hall does not concede permission for shootings “so as not to commercialize the essence of the running of the bulls”. For this reason, the commercial was filmed in Tafalla, a town quite close to Pamplona. Another element to overcome was the need to work closely with the bulls and to “house-train” them for the televisión.
Because when it comes to filming for the big screen or even the small one the shootings need to be more scientific than spontaneous, but in this case the bulls are more expressive than pragmatic. In Publicity, everything must be kept tightly under control, as if it were a feature film. Because if not, you could soon find yourself on one of those programes which looks for the typical “howlers” or unintentional blunders. The typical scene where the cigarette is longer in one scene than in the earlier one or where someone is wearing a hat one moment and in the next, is hatless…
So you can imagine that when it comes to dealing with wild animals and bulls to boot, this type of control is not easy to achieve. Bulls that can gore and if they find someone in front of them will try to gore you once and for all. This is the risky and intriging element of shooting a TV comercial about the Sanfermin running of the bulls, in the traditional style. In other words, no computer simulations, no doubling up of stunt animals instead of the real thing. Just real bulls and real runners which, of course will give a more authentic and real result.
There have been other commercials made which have used the running of the bulls as the relevant feature. The last one came from the San Miguel beer brand. They used bison running through the streets of New York. Earlier Spike Lee had used the Sanfermin running of the bulls to make a spot for Levi Strauss jeans. Now, Joangil, from Arena Shots, who has made earlier commercials for Cruz Verde, Nisson or California Walnuts, steps up to face the challenge of making a spot with a running of the bulls. The day of the shooting, even the weather seemed to be against him, where a cold March day also suffered the inclemency of rain and wind and even some snow.
In spite of everything, the filming team took up positions with their professional cameras along strategic stretches of the course. There were technicians of all kinds, production assistants, cranes, crowd-controllers, extras, runners and…bulls.
The director, Joangil, checked the filming as soon as the shots were taken and gave immediate orders to try to improve each scene. First, the bulls and runners were kept well apart, and then brought closer together, then to one side, then to the other, sometimes with the bull-minders to the forefront, then the bulls… Little by little the production team managed to get the type of shoots that they had hoped for and the work was turning out as they had planned it would.
One of the most original images was the final stretch of the running of the bulls where there was a Chroma Key background, to allow for later changes of background scenery. The bulls seen in close up and the green material that will allow the director to insert other backgrounds in the post-production stage. In fact, Joangil is particularly well famed for this element in his work which will be interesting to check out when we finally get to see the commercial.
Among the incidents of the long hard day of shooting – a shooting that will eventually materialize as a minute-long commercial – one of the extras received a goring of 25 centimetres to his leg.
And the thing is that in this type of filming, everything happens quickly and there is little room for error. What we could check out in Tafalla was how the bulls only took one minute to reach the street corner from their exit from the bullring.
In this one minute the different cameras are all shooting at the same time creating the classic sound of rolling film as if it were a stagecoach from some Western or other. Once the shooting stops, the mechanical silence gives way to the sound of voices, orders, walki-talkies, and the replay of monitor screens to check the results of the shooting. All this apparent uproar is in fact, perfectly organized. When everyone was ready once again, the scene would be repeated. And once again, alter the re-shooting, checking, making changes and once again, action!
This repetition and attention to details will allow the post-production work to be carried out more productively and easily and so make the final commercial more efficient. The increasing sense of boredom felt by the non-professionals and the work with the wild animals, now getting more tired and more dangerous, also increased the danger and this resulted in a goring as we saw earlier.
After the long day of takes and retakes, and the efforts of the technical team and the extras, the media company arranged a proper and complete running of the bulls without cameras just for the enjoyment of the runners after they had spent a long day working for the production company.