Rob Ulitski - 19th Aug 2021

A young man trains for the challenge of his life, in Jack Lilley's oddball promo for MarthaGunn. 

Following the impeccable visual for Holding The Fire last month, Lilley switches up his approach, this time creating a narrative video with no performance elements - and it works brilliantly. 

Starring James Copplestone Farmer as the Scrabble-obsessed protagonist, the concept focuses on the training up to a series of competitions against other pro players - each played by a member of the band in hilarious disguises. The debt to Netflix smash series The Queen's Gambit is clear, but that only makes it more enjoyable. 

It's another knockout video from Lilley and team, and deserves a rewatch or two.


One thing it ultimately highlighted was how much I personally love Scrabble.

"Rather than make the video about a relationship between two people I made it between a person and their passion.

"Paying homages to some of the most well known montage sequences (Rocky, Taxi Driver, Forrest Gump) to show our main character training hard, the irony being he’s training physically hard for a mentally challenging sport, Scrabble.

"The Scrabble tournament was obviously heavily influenced by [Netflix series] The Queen's Gambit. All the opponents are members of the band whose characters I gave more and more ridiculous personas as it went through the tournament, almost like level bosses in a computer game. We have the ordinary guy, the hippie dad, the beatnik girl, the Russian master - and finally the Jimi Hendrix of jumbling letters.

"We had a lot of fun making this film, and it was great to be trusted by the band to make a video that had no performance element at all. One thing it ultimately highlighted was how much I actually personally love Scrabble, as during the top down takes I couldn’t help but jump in and suggest words that could be played."


DirectorJack Lilley
ProducerJack Lilley
Director of PhotographyJamie Harding
GafferDan Hilltout
Make-upAbi Ward
EditorAnthony Thornton
ColouristCam Sander
Lead actorJames Copplestone Farmer

Rob Ulitski - 19th Aug 2021

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