Producer Jeff Pangman on Overcoming the Harsh Iceland Environment for Garmin

Jeff & Kacper in Iceland

Truth and authenticity; these never come easy and yet they are paramount. Though there are indicators that the world is increasingly smitten with superficiality, this is a pendulum which always swings back. To know one’s true self and strive for your greatest potential is a template for a fulfilled life. The same holds true for art, even when that art is advertising. Garmin International’s Fenix 6 Series commercial “The Face of Adventure” is a love letter to the idea that validation only comes from knowing in your own heart that you pushed yourself to personal greatness. As with the athletes featured in this ad, Producer Jeff Pangman reveals that the work of himself and the team who executed this production was a test in ability and tenacity. Filmed in some of the most unforgiving conditions Iceland has to offer, this commercial exceeded its original aspiration by displaying that the greatest beauty is found in the determination of the human spirit rather than in society’s latest definition of attractive. While ads featuring TV or Film stars are predestined for exposure, productions like “The Face of Adventure” require their own greatness to acquire the nearly one-million views on YouTube that it has to date.

Iceland Photo by Kacper Larski

In the words of its script, this campaign was about “the face of authenticity, the face of fortitude, the face of resilience, the face that says “I’m not doing this for attention or accolades …but because every fiber of my being demands it … has to have it. This is the face of adventure.” It’s not often that on-camera talent is chosen for authenticity over aesthetics but as Pangman reveals, “We reviewed more than a hundred leading athletes looking for those who would embody the commitment and pursuit of pushing the limits. We rebuked any notion of a professional model. In the words of our director, ‘We wanted them to look like they’d experienced frost-bite or too many sunburns; that way their passion, their energy, their trials and tribulations of that sport will come through their eyes.’ There’s definitely a segment of the public who enjoy pushing their own limits and discovering what they’re capable of; we created this to resonate with them and it did.”

The script called for epic locations with wide vistas. The production travelled to Iceland as it offered the desired diversity within the curt time frame. Over three and a half weeks in March, the team travelled the south coast of Iceland shooting in the regions of Thorsmorck, Kvernufoss, Dyrhólaey, Stokksnes, Hof, and Gufunes. The unforgiving and constantly changing weather conditions during this time of year in Iceland called for minute-to-minute re-scouting and changes; stressful but beneficial for displaying harshness on camera. The bitter cold is palpable as we see Michael Zuntag (explorer), MelkorkaRán (runner), Harry Asena (Cross Fit on beach), Jónas Stefánsson (skier), Rut Siguroardóttin (swimmer), in the types of conditions which elicit an instantaneous wince. Witnessing their effort and tenacity deeply communicates the central idea that excellence is a deep quality which supersedes all else.

  “The Face of Adventure” was a Finalist at the Ciclope International Festival of Craft (Editor Michael Barker) and was shot under the direction of Kacper Larski who won Silver at the Cannes Young Director Awards for his work with Land Rover. The production team personifies an idea congruent with the message of this commercial; that pushing yourself for greatness is much more important than following a trend of simply going through the motions. Pangman recalls finding himself being brutalized by the conditions in Iceland and making of-the-moment decisions that would effect the entire production and notes, “This kind of work is never dull. We often find ourselves in radically different environments and the wrong decision can have major repercussions. It can be stressful but proving to yourself that you can handle it and come out okay on the other end is the greatest reward.”

Writer: Angela Cooper

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