Keeping a cool head when things go sideways is an attractive trait for any professional. When budgets are involved, the person who can perform their role properly and offer a creative solution in the face of complications and adversity is almost always the one you want around. The characteristics perfectly describe Australian Sally Kingsford when she auditioned for a role in a nationwide advertising campaign for Coles supermarket. Beginning with her audition, the actress proved she can bring her own style and coolness to the “Every Day” Coles campaign, one which successively spanned three years starring Kingsford. She describes the rough start stating, “The audition process was (initially) an actor’s nightmare. There were a couple of scripts that were circulated in the waiting room as they were auditioning people for a few Coles campaigns at the same time. After being ushered into a room, I realized as soon as we’d started that we had been given different scripts. I felt a twinge of panic but made the decision that I would improvise the first take and then explain to the casting director that I was given a different script. After the first take I explained what happened and they let us do another take after giving me the correct script. I left feeling a bit silly but was pleasantly surprised when I was cast as I really was not expecting it! They were pleased enough to bring me back for two subsequent Coles campaigns.”
Kingsford admits that she enjoys the challenge of acting in commercials. While her roles in films like the award-winning “STAMP” or the internationally praised comedy series “Summer Heights High” were built on a highly improvisational foundation that gave substantial freedom for artistic expression, commercials are very structured and require strictly adherence to the script and direction. Actors in these types of production are often told how to say the line, resulting in the question of how to bring spontaneity and energy to a performance.
Sally appeared in three different presentation of supermarket Coles “Every Day” campaign. Director Steve Callen established a middle point between the typical controlled commercial acting method and some improvisation. As Australia’s largest and most popular supermarket chain, the Coles commercials were major productions and ubiquitous. Sally was given the script only one hour before the filming began, leaving virtually no time for preparation and forcing her to rely on her instincts (made even more difficult as the lines were read off of a teleprompter). She appears as a Coles Team Member, reassuring unbelieving customers that the low prices they see are not a mistake but just another example of the supermarket’s “Every Day” pricing.
An unexpected trait of Kingsford’s made her particularly equipped to perform well for these Coles campaign productions. All of the spots in this commercial series are filmed overnight at Coles locations. Overnight shoots are never easy (these were conducted between 10PM & 6AM) and increase the challenge of bringing energy to one’s performance. Giving insight into the experience Sally concedes, “I’d never done night shoots before, so starting work at 10pm and working until 6am is definitely one of the most difficult parts of the process. Staying awake, not knowing exactly when you were going to be filmed and trying to keep your energy up is definitely hard work. Filming at 4AM certainly tests your stamina as an actor. I’m pretty good at taking direction and I perform well on night shoots. I think these are definitely contributing factors to them brining me back for multiple shoots. It’s on a tight schedule as they are filming ads for numerous Coles products at once. They need people who can deliver quickly and repeatedly.”
There is always one high point for Kingsford in every production and for the Coles “Every Day” campaign it was the opportunity to work with director Steve Callen. Beyond his technical expertise, she confirms that the sense of irony that he brings to the action makes the experience even more enjoyable for the actors. He is unafraid of bringing an improvisational element into the commercials when he feels the actors are able to communicate the ideas more effectively this way. As a professional and a fan of Kingsford from both sides of the camera, Callen notes, “I have worked with Sally Kingsford three times in creating the Coles supermarket ‘Every Day’ campaigns. I repeatedly cast her due to her exceptional ability to interpret a role, take direction, and continuously perform at a very high level. I can’t stress how unique and coveted those abilities are to a director. I initially cast Sally because she is smart, funny, and brings her own individual style to her performance but I recast her because I know how reliable she is and that she brings a tireless energy to her work, even on long night shoots. She is incredibly disciplined and a joy to work with.”