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IBM commercial filmed on Australian oil rig

IBM oil rig commercialIBM filmed on location on an oil rig 70 miles off the coast of Western Australia for a spot showcasing its artificial intelligence system Watson in practical use.

The tech giant worked with creative agency The Barbarian Group and PSN Australia – Taxi Film Production to navigate the uniquely challenging production process.

“We hadn’t shot on an oil rig before,” said producer Mark ‘Bish’ Bishop. “But we do have plenty of experience shooting at mining sites in remote areas, which was useful as there are definite logistical similarities when it comes to productions on large-scale worksites.”

The production was not able to scout the rig location ahead of the shoot so key decisions had to be made in advance, while also adapting to only being allowed a five-strong team.

“The transportation of the equipment to and from the platform took a month, and with only two days on the rig itself, executing the commercial came down to having a very clear vision of the film we wanted to capture while also keeping a flexible outlook on exactly how we would go about achieving that,” said Bishop.

To be allowed onto the rig, the team also had to be trained in how to respond to various physical dangers, such as finding a way out of a burning building and escaping a submerged helicopter.

“Even with all the training, once we were on the rig there were very strict regulations on when and where we could move around, the location itself was in a constant state of movement and the employees on the rig were completely unused to having untrained crew around,” said Bishop.

“With all of these elements factoring in it forced us to get quite creative once we started shooting.”

Given the access and safety issues on oil rigs, films and TV dramas set in these locations usually build their own sets in order to get full control. For IBM, shooting on the real rig delivered the authenticity needed for the campaign.

For more on filming in Australia see our production guide.

Client: IBM & Woodside
Production Company: PSN Australia - Taxi Film Production
Agency: The Barbarian Group
Director/DOP: Tristan Houghton
Executive Producer: Andrew Wareham and Joe Guyt
Producer: Mark ‘Bish’ Bishop
Creative Director: Adam Lau


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