Armored Truck Drivers Pull Off an Unexpected Heist in This Fun and Surprising Lottery Ad

Director Tim Bullock unpacks the DDB New Zealand spot

Lotto New Zealand

When your job is to transport thousands of dollars of cash every day in an armored truck, your thoughts probably turn pretty frequently to issues of personal finance. Perhaps you even daydream about stealing the truck. One day, just possibly, you decide to do just that—surprising your suddenly horrified co-driver, who figured you’d been kidding all along.

That’s the promising setup for the two-minute spot below by DDB New Zealand for that nation’s lottery. The film was produced by Scoundrel and directed by Tim Bullock, who is repped by Blink in the U.K.

The drivers’ day starts out like any other—loading the precious cargo into the truck, while chatting about what they’d do if they won the lottery. (This, somewhat sadly, appears to be a regular topic of conversation for them.) The pair—a native New Zealander and an immigrant from India—have a fun rapport, setting up a very entertaining, and gripping, heist scenario. Because at one point, the guy driving the van decides to skip a scheduled stop. And before you know it, they’re headed for the border.

It’s a clever way to dramatize wish fulfillment, and the piece has an undeniable charm that should win over even those viewers who are prone to resist the lottery’s largely empty promises. The casting and direction, in particular, are well done—with the actors making the whole scenario pretty believable.

Below, Bullock speaks about the film and the challenges of directing it.

How would you describe the film?
It’s a warm, cathartic buddy tale, but it’s also the story of the ultimate prank. One that we would all love to be in a position to play or have played on us.

The story plays out within the intimate confines of an armored truck. Any interesting anecdotes or details of challenges you faced in the filming?
Being a two-hander with our characters confined to a vehicle was always going to be a challenge because ultimately there is only so many ways you can shoot two characters sitting in one space. That forced us to move the cameras around quite a bit to keep things interesting and emphasize particular story beats. We quickly realized we had to have two cameras, and I operated the second camera for much of the shoot. It was my camera department debut!

One issue we faced was that in New Zealand, armored trucks are usually just vans—much like courier vans—which I guess is a testament to the country but not ideal for building a high-stakes drama. We wanted to film something that felt more like what is in the mind’s eye of most people when they think of an armored truck but also conceivable in that region. So, we built an armored truck on the only suitable chassis we could find in all of New Zealand, and then had to make it 100 percent roadworthy. Spare parts were arriving from Germany literally the day before the shoot. The production designer, Guy Treadgold, did an amazing job.

How long did it take to find your two main actors?
It is a rare luxury, but what this spot really had going for it was pre-production time. I think we had a good five weeks or so to find our cast. We tested people from all over New Zealand and Australia to find the right combination. And we really felt it was important to get the two guys in the room together. Poor John Chalmers, who played the Ray character, was flown from Napier to Wellington to Auckland and eventually to Melbourne. He was the quintessential Kiwi steady hand, the kind of bloke you immediately liked and gravitated to. But he also had the qualities that made you believe he might be a little jaded and do something as misguided as running off with the money. Sachin Joab was pitch perfect, too. It was an arduous shoot—shot in a tin can, in the middle of summer, with no air con for three days. Both were amazing to work with and always surprised me with moments of spontaneity, many of which made it into the spot.