Cannes Lions

America (Longform)

DEUTSCH LA, Los Angeles / VOLKSWAGEN / 2017

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A family three generations strong carries out the dying wish of their Irish immigrant patriarch by setting out together in a Volkswagen Atlas to see America in all its grandeur, which he was never able to do during his lifetime. The cross-country road trip takes them from the East Coast to the West Coast where the film culminates with the family spreading his ashes into the Pacific Ocean.


Authenticity was paramount to the concept so, we forewent the typical LA casting route and favored a more nontraditional route of street casting. The director and casting agent scoured the streets of Boston, New York, and New Jersey, home to countless generations of immigrants. They found people in churches, pubs, community centers, airports, bus stations, and corner coffee shops. They interviewed them and then brought them in for callbacks. The grandmother was street cast in Boston and her only prior stage experience was singing in local pubs. A concerted effort was made to cast people, actors, and non-actors, who had experienced the loss of a loved one and could authentically relate to the subject matter. The grandmother had lost her husband in real life and the two photographs in the TVC are actually of her and her husband. The cast also featured a real-life mother and daughter. One word: authenticity.

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