Glenfiddich means ‘Valley of the deer’ in Scots Gaelic, hence the presence of a deer symbol on Glenfiddich Whisky bottles. Glenfiddich is the world’s best-selling single malt whisky. It is sold in 180 countries and accounts for about 35% of single malt worldwide sales. No wonder then when Glenfiddich wanted to shoot an outstanding TV commercial with a majestic Red Deer Stag in full antler they came to A-Z Animals.
A Stag Deer grows and sheds his antler annually. Each year as the Stag matures the antler grows back a little bigger and a little more impressive than the previous year. At the beginning of August the antler is still in velvet and has yet to mature into that characteristic hardened bone type appearance. Early September sees the Stag come into the rut with a full hardened antler ready to see off any opponents. The Stag is now sexually dominant and on the look out for mate-able females, the more the merrier from his perspective. As time progresses through September into October the testosterone coursing through his body dramatically changes the Stag’s temperament into a hugely assertive and potentially aggressive individual. In Scotland most years someone will be killed by inadvertently straying too close to a Red Deer Stag in full rut. Consequently, when filmamkers and photographers want to work with a Red Deer Stag in full antler they need to be very sure of their ground and who it is they are working with.
This Glenfiddich TV commercial shoot happened in two parts – the Stag was filmed in an open air limbo set provided by A-Z Animals in the UK and the locations were filmed in Cuba. In this particular project the Stag was filmed first and then the location background plates and action foregrounds were shot subsequently on location – seasoned film professionals will know it’s usually the other way around. This about-face approach was on account of the rut – the further the Stag goes into the rut the harder it is to predict temperament and behaviour which in turn adversely affects health & safety considerations. The client relied on A-Z Animals to guide their scheduling so that the script, as written, could be achieved in a safe and predicable manner.
A-Z Animals has provided and expertly supervised many Red Deer Stags over the years for both filming and photography, one of the more notable occasions being the Red Deer Stag At The River sequence with Helen Mirren playing her Oscar winning role of Her Majesty QE2 in the feature film The Queen.