Live The Language

Swedish director, Gustav Johansson talks about his series of international commercials for language school, Education First. Gustav talks about the relationship he and his DOP, Niklas developed with their talent on this series of seven commercials.

Live The Language

Gustav Johansson's 'Live The Language' campaign was developed for Education First, an international educational group who offer a range of programs from language training, educational travel, academic degrees to cultural exchanges. From Berlin to Beijing, Moscow to Mexico City, Dubai to Denver, EF operates 450 schools in over 54 countries. With more than 15 million past and present students, the aim of this campaign was attract more students to learn a new language and discover the world. 

"This was a series of seven films that we were commissioned to do. It was an especially exciting opportunity for me and my DOP, on how to really work well with talent. Although it was a pretty modest budget, the upside was that we were given a great deal of freedom on what we could do and in shaping the narrative.

"When I started developing a script for each film, it was a given that we couldn't build sets or get permits to block off streets on location with this budget. This meant that we had to shoot in a very realistic way where we would just followed the characters like we were one of them. After we had done this for awhile, we realized that we were actually giving a lot of authenticity to each film. These seven commercials have more reality to them than some of my other projects, where we shot more cinematic in style with much higher production values. It doesn't necessarily mean that a small budget like this one, means that you can't do something that is really special. I think these commercials show that you can do something fresh and beautiful when you really try.”

"These commercials show

that you can do something

fresh and beautiful."

“With these commercials, we tried to keep this ongoing relationship with the talent. We basically let the characters set the rules. I tried to develop this cinematography style where there is a different relationship between the camera and the talent on these commercials.”

“We always keep this relationship with the talent, without interfering or telling them what to do. Instead, you are observing and following them, almost like you are another character. This approach gives a lot of authenticity to my work. That’s why I also love to work with natural light, so I don’t have to complicated things with lighting setups. With natural light, the characters can move in a way that feels natural for them, without thinking about where to stand.

“In this way, we can allow a little bit more for accidents so the whole thing becomes more spontaneous. I don’t want them to be structured or limited by the technique. I want them to be natural and real. I don’t think films like ‘Live the Language’ could have been shot even five years ago. Because we shot them on a Canon 5D it opened up a lot of opportunities in terms of locations, and importantly, the way people react to the camera. These days, things are so much different to what they were five years ago.”


Director Gustav Johansson
DOP Niklas Johansson
Production Camp David
Titles Albin Holmqvist
Music Magnas Lidehäll
Client Education First

Artist: Gustav Johansson

Gustav Johansson Swedens' Gustav Johansson started directing music videos and had won at Cannes by age 22.