Behind the scenes of Light up the Dawn


Tim Schaefer 10 April 2020

Working behind the scenes to recognise our veterans.

Australians have long relied on the qualities of mateship, humour, ingenuity, courage and endurance to help us cope through tough times. When it came time for RSL Queensland to promote ANZAC Day 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a unique idea built around resilience and the spirit of the ANZACs seemed only fitting.

The RSL Queensland marketing team's initial idea to promote ANZAC Day had to be scrapped in mid-March when the pandemic forced authorities to restrict public gatherings to less than 500 people. With less than five weeks until ANZAC Day, the team had to pivot to a plan B, and fast.



Following our announcement on social media that traditional ANZAC Day services would not be possible, people began to suggest alternative ways to honour the ANZACs. One idea kept coming up - the concept of a driveway vigil at 6am.

RSL Queensland's marketing team loved the idea and quickly got to work, incorporating it into what would become the 'Light up the Dawn' campaign. The concept reminds Australians that the qualities of the ANZACs live within all of us. And how, in these challenging times, we must invoke the ANZAC spirit more than ever.

To bring the idea to life, the team created a poignant video showing everyday Australians standing on their driveways holding a candlelight vigil in the pre-dawn light. Among shots of an empty Shrine of Remembrance and the eternal flame flaring silently in the breeze, the neighbours – kids, teenagers, parents and veterans – recite part of the Ode in unison. The video is capped off with the haunting notes of the Last Post.

Watch the video

Sensing the Australian government would soon ban gatherings altogether, the team began filming the commercial immediately. They worked long hours over several days to bring the video to life with the help of talented cinematographer Robert Bakken.



With no time to hire professional talent, the marketing team roped in their willing husbands, slightly less-willing kids, and fellow RSL Queensland staff – including veterans Merv Brown OAM and Graeme Alley – to star in the commercial.

On-location filming took place at the Shrine of Remembrance in Brisbane and a picturesque streetscape not far away in Red Hill, outside the house of a staff member. To complement the commercial, photographer Sean Condon and the team from The Creative Imagineers were on-set to shoot compelling imagery for the campaign.

On the final afternoon of shooting, the team was treated to a spectacular sunset, which stood in perfectly for the filming of the dawn scenes. When filming wrapped, it meant the commercial came together in just a matter of days, an abnormally quick turn-around for a professional campaign.



RSL Queensland Chief Executive Officer Melanie Wilson said the dawn vigil was the perfect way to honour the ANZACs during an unprecedented time.

"As Australians, we can't stand shoulder to shoulder this ANZAC Day," she said.

"But by lighting up the dawn, we can showcase our ANZAC spirit and honour our service men and women like never before."



If you want to join us in recognising our Defence community, pledge here to light up the dawn on 25 April.



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