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Codral

paul middleditch

| treatment Codral |

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SOLDIER ON! I love how the Codral “Soldier On” campaign dares to be a little comical about a subject that’s certainly no laughing matter at the time. Thinking back as to how hapless one feels whilst in the grips of a bad cold, I can honestly say it’s true the ensuing foggy fug often does make everyday trials feel like an assault course. So throwing utter chaos Audreys’ way works as a brilliant visual metaphor for testing Codral’s healing abilities. Plus it empowers our Audrey with a level of amusing, yet strangely relatable fortitude. Apart from superb casting and performances, I think this idea deserves a bit of scale. I suggest we have her journey subtly build and unfold as a series of misfortunes that bizarrely happen one after another in a “You wouldn’t read about it!” way. And as if that isn’t enough, we top it off by one final crushing blow, which due to Codral… Audrey serenely just deals with.

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INTO THE BATTLE ZONE Nailing the tone is important. Although suffering from a cold can certainly make mishaps seem epic, if we go too far then it could also feel a bit silly. However the humour surrounding Audreys’ plight can certainly be distinctively Codral, but still quite different from last time.

And when I refer to her journey being like a battle zone, I mean that we perhaps go for angles that offer the heightened sense of peril she’s feeling. This includes extreme close calls, making it really feel like she’s at the front line.

Although relatively ordinary, I’d like the nature, timing and execution of the obstacles to be cinematic and a touch up-scaled in feel – as they can be when you have a cold. The idea being to give the impression Audreys’ simple walk to the party is more like tackling a ludicrous battle zone.

Maybe she/we hear the screech of breaks and a crash. So when she rounds the corner, there lies the truck already on its side with a tsunami of ball bearings pouring towards her. At which point maybe she jumps up into a low brick fence, teeters along it only narrowly avoiding the slippery flood of silvery balls. Unfortunately though, perhaps a skateboarder (or cyclist) doesn’t get off so lightly and is thrown into a rose bush…or something like that.

The comedy is two fold. We have our series of farcical mishaps that pepper her path, and in contrast, we have her unwavering serene attitude that deftly counters the chaos thus almost heightening it. Our Audrey literally ploughs on regardless ensuring that cake remains intact no matter what. Being a priceless series of near misses, her journey is much like a quintessential ‘most remembered’ scene from a movie. Imagine composed cinematography and underplayed performances that combine to seem bizarrely realistic.

Audrey however does her best to sidestep, swerve and makes on the spot decisions that get her through, cleverly demonstrating Codral’s power to enable us to cope under adversity. What ultimately makes all this so hilarious though, is her stoic attitude. I love the idea that our ordinary Audrey quite simply displays unwavering fortitude. Seemingly unflappable under the most outrageous conditions, she literally just soldiers on and against all odds, gets there in the end. Well sort of…

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OUR AUDREY We discussed on the call that Audrey is a great, yet ordinary girl and I really love that picture of her too. I would even go so far to call her exquisitely plain. That’s not to say she’s uninteresting – not at all. She’s simply someone we all know and like, the trooper in the office or the girl next door who feeds your cat while you’re away and remembers your birthday. In short, she’s a honey. The casting process is something I relish and Audrey will be an interesting challenge. She’s layered and inherently funny in that she doesn’t try to be humorous. This understated, almost counter humour is demanding though and we need someone who truly ‘get’s it’. Physically she might be slim, has a warm smile and really expressive eyes. She also has the intelligent face and whilst she could only be in her 20s, she carries ‘big sister’ maturity, or the worldliness of someone a little older. She’s an independent type, very capable and lives alone in a neat little apartment set within a leafy friendly suburb.

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And yet I suspect she’s too good as well. You know, the type that goes the extra mile but isn’t necessarily given credit for it. This in turn can make someone a drama magnet – the sort to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s just something we kind of sense about her. She’s also going to have to be a very good actress that wears heart and mood on her sleeve. We ‘sense’ her inner monologue via expressions and body language. Meaning we see in her eyes the “Ah well, onwards and upwards” way she pushes back her shoulders, puffs out her cheeks, lifts the cake higher and soldiers on despite all that she’s encountering. What we notice too is her even-tempered almost blithe chipper-ness, which consequently makes what’s happening even funnier and ironic. Over the course of the journey however there’s a subtle change in her demeanour whereby she starts out completely ‘owned’ by her cold, but after 30 seconds we see that she’s pretty much shaken it off and is in a better place. I love developing characters that viewers fall for and in this case I think that once we find our perfect Audrey, it might be wise to see what she brings to the script. The humour is such that it requires authenticity so being open to gestures and ideas that come naturally will make her all the more amusing. For instance she might instinctively give the “walkers” a perky little smile, as she shimmies and snakes her body through them, cake high above her head. Or it could work that she chucks/kicks the broken shoe to one side but undeterred she still stays wearing the other one – happily hobbling along.

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CAMERA STYLE

Cinematically I think we play it straight and treat this just like it were a scene from a film. This means detailed art directing and artful lighting (that feels natural). So in going soft hand held observational, using a mix of wide and medium lenses, I want each shot to have a degree of composure that ensures nothing is missed yet a modern spontaneity that also feels ‘caught in the moment.’ As such, having a world-class drama Directory of Photography as part of the team will ensure we achieve a contemporary meets classic look and feel.

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WHAT HAPPENS This script has a classic beginning, middle, end narrative so we establish Codral as the hero from the start. In the opening scene Audrey looks her worst making her plight all the more stoic. Think red nosed, rheumy eyed, pale pallor and lack lustre body language. Perhaps she’s slumped in a kitchen chair the majestic cake before her on the table with the Codral pack and water in her hand. She can barely focus as she pops and down the Codral. But then, she’s on her feet, handbag over her shoulder, eyes fixed on the door, she hauls the giant (lets make it big) cake off the table. She’s not entirely out of the woods but she narrows her eyes and goes forth.

Another thought is to layer in one or two other obstacles - like weather. Imagine that she’s suddenly hammered by an unrelenting wind that nearly sends her toppling over as she passes by a gap between buildings. Or what if she has to dodge a sprinkler system that spontaneously cranks into action just as she’s walking by…or hobbling as the case may be. However at all times, Audrey rises to the challenge and simply accesses the situation then responds to it deftly without breaking her stride. I wonder too if we potentially make the reprise a little more surprising. I like the idea that we maybe have one more extreme mishap or a near mishap that really tops her day off.

Over the course of the journey she gets better but the incidents get more hectic. The ideas you’ve outlined in the script are great and I’d just like to work with them (and you) to make them just a touch more dramatic.

The cheeky guy who swipes the icing works, but I wonder if it’s enough. What if she proudly places the cake down on the trestle table only to have it (the table) collapse? She’s left standing with the splattered cake at her feet giggling or staring – whatever is funniest.

For example, I think the order of events could work in a knock on or snowball effect. In this case, breaking her shoe heel could happen as a result of avoiding the dog that in turn makes the truck swerve and crash.

Let’s put our heads together and figure out what could happen that’s dramatic, funny and just a little bit unexpected.

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THE SETTING & THE PARTY Think suburban middle urban Australia. Audrey has a little flat or unit in a lovely suburb with a close-knit neighbourhood vibe. It’s befitting of her age and type and there’s wholesomeness to the place that’s not cheesy, but is certainly friendly. In other words, normally (when she isn’t suffering from a cold) walking with a cake to a party would be easy and pleasant. What if the back yard party is quite a happening thing by the time she arrives, making it feel like the final frontier? It’s full of people her age with a few young parents and perhaps one or two kids that charge past her creating yet another near miss whilst carrying the cake. This ensures the placement of the cake on the table is all the more of a relief – for a moment anyway. The partygoers could be a mix of other “Audrey” types with a smattering of cooler more gregarious people. Although this part of the spot is fleeting, I like the idea that the party offers another deeper view into Audrey’s life. It’s familiar and welcoming…perhaps someone signals cheers to her across the room and another gives her a passing smile as she pushes through. Maybe the guy who dips his finger in the icing (or who stands by watching whatever happens) is actually quite good looking and normally she’d be pleased and blush even. But today, having been through the wringer, she simply gives us yet another Soldier On stare.

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FINAL WORD

It’s great to be considered for making another edition in this iconic series. I love the boldness of this brand and know that audiences enjoy the diversity of humour it offers. Audrey is a relatable character and her situation is one we can have some real fun with while still having it carry a powerful message for Codral. Thanks for hearing my thoughts and let’s speak soon. Paul.

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Codral treatment v3