Wilderness Festival are proud to announce the return this year of The Sanctuary
7-10th August 2014 at Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
This year at Wilderness is set to be a treasure trove of pampering therapies, luxurious treatments, energising classes and inspirational workshops featuring some of Britain’s top health experts. Organised by the brilliant Wild Wellbeing team Claire Hamilton and Colette Crespin (famous for their pioneering wellbeing area at Secret Garden Party & Somersault festival), this year promises to be an unmissable extravaganza showcasing the very best in health and covering the A-Z of wellbeing and vitality.
Open from sunrise to sunset their 150 strong team of helpers, healers, yoga teachers and workshop leaders will be on hand to look after you in a stunning backdrop designed by their in house designer Angeline – with the help of Anthropologie and Willow Crosley – featuring beautiful decorated dome tents and yurts courtesy of Sui-shi Domes & Hooe’s Yurts.
As well as headliner yoga teachers from The Life Centre, there will be extra special workshops featuring eminent speakers and authors such as The Modern Day Wizard Andrew Wallace, The Barefoot Doctor, Emma Cannon and Vicki Edgson (book your tickets in advance for these they will be a sell-out). And when you’re ready for a large drink, refreshing cold pressed juices & organic cocktails will be provided by mixologists Greenbox Drinks.
a) Delicious Rose Radiance REN facials in heated hand crafted yurts
Wilderness Signature massage with body fit oils from Mamamio and Mio
b) A- Z team of healers offering everything from Acupuncture to Aromatherapy,
c) Physiotherapy to Psychic readings, Tarot to Thai Massage and much more
d)Acro-yoga, Ariel Yoga and Trapeze school – get strong and learn to fly with the Gorilla Circus
e) Dynamic & Restorative Yoga with the legendary Life Centre and many more incredible and top teachers
f) Three day yoga courses with Zephyr and Tanja so you can go deeper into your practice while festival-ing
g) Meditation with Andy Puddicombe’s world-renowned Headspace team with a full three day program
h) Solar showers for post sweat on the yoga mat – with REN shower products and eco towels with the Shimmer & Shineyurt hosted by Perfect 10 – providing everything you need in makeup, glitter, and nails with powerpoints and mirrors
i) Organic Wild Wellbeing Cafe and Apothecary bar – serving scrumptious health fortyifing food all day, health busting cocktails and organic juicesfrom Go-To juicers Plenish
Commercial directors have cut their teeth in promos for decades, but is it still a good way into advertising?
Tangerine and Alex Reeves from the Beak Street Bugle interview Otis Bell to find out more…
Independent agents OB Management have been a big name in music video talent for years now, representing many of the sharpest directors that genre has seen. A decade since Otis Bell founded the company, now they’re taking on the world of advertising with a select roster of directors for representation in commercials.
Music videos can be instrumental in the development of both new and established directors. But when it comes to transitioning from promos to advertising the question remains: what did the promo do for directors?
We asked Otis what he thought.
The Beak Street Bugle: How important are promos to the development of a director’s reel?
Otis Bell: Promos can be instrumental in the development of both new and established directors but probably more crucial to emerging talent. How else can you create a showreel that will allow you to carve the right directorial path?
The new director’s apprenticeship in the promo world is the opportunity to not only experiment but to be selective in your output, control and present your identity. The only other way is to make films, which are considerably more difficult to get off the ground and probably harder to present in short form to agencies and clients (if that’s where you are aiming!)
BSB: You’ve basically seen all the music videos. How do you feel about them now?
OB: It’s funny; I do now watch music videos in a different light. You become acutely aware of how indulgent and laboured some videos can be, especially compared to the precision and skills required to present a message in 60 seconds or less.
There have been a slew of abstract narratives that indulge themselves in a vague story that hangs on beautiful slow-motion shots to hold your interest. That’s not enough these days.
Certainly my patience for music video has been tested. If I’m not hooked in the first 30 seconds, I turn off. However, I always feel incredibly rewarded when screening a breakthrough new video to a room of agency producers and creatives. The response is always one of gratitude and can often spawn inspiration for their next campaign. Agencies generally seem far more interested in watching other disciplines from new talent than seeing another bunch of telly ads.
BSB: Are agencies really looking for promo directors, or are they too scared to take the risk?
OB: I think this would’ve been the case 10 years ago when we were still making music videos for TV. Back then they were more generic as they had to appeal to broadcasters, they had to sit along side big glossy videos from the US so they were generally more performance based. Of course there were still some outstanding creative videos but how many were seen by the masses outside of the industry when you could only view them on MTV2 or late night screenings?
However, these days they’re far more diverse with high-concept ideas, experimental post techniques, trends/fashions and more and more classic storytelling, all of which are relevant to a wide spectrum of brands.
And of course now we can actually measure the success of a video, the connection it has had with an audience, so it’s perhaps more reassuring to use a promo director that has had a visible reaction to his/her work on a global scale.
BSB: Is music videos still a good training ground for directors?
OB: Of course, and then some. Music videos can be brutal. Usually massively underfunded and often with very little prep time, so you have to be incredibly resourceful and creative in your approach.
In theory, once you’ve progressed to commercials you at least have the adequate resources to do the job properly. Really the only area of inexperience will be the client and agency process but any directors crossing over should be mentored by their production company and producer as it’s way more structured than working with record labels. What I mean by that is that every frame is discussed and approved in detail with commercials, whereas you’re given more freedom in music videos most of the time.
BSB: What do promos allow the director to create that commercials still can’t?
OB: Well, we’re back to the creative freedom basically. For a start there is no strict format that has to be adhered to since they’re mostly made for online platforms rather than TV, although TV edits are still made. A music video is a much longer format than traditional TV ads, giving the director greater opportunity to tell more detailed narrative or explore concepts further.
Also, with the right track the director has the opportunity to get his work seen by millions of people around the world. Look at Josh Cole. His commercials career kicked off massively off the back of his first music video with Rudimental. Aside accumulating over 18 million YouTube views and winning Josh a Young Director Award at Cannes; the video spread rapidly round most agencies and was heavily used by many of them in pitches to clients, animatics and scripts. It’s very satisfying that we were instrumental in that transition.
BSB: Are promo directors often a better option for branded films?
OB: Well, it would be hard to say that in general a music video director would be better suited. It depends on the message and discipline required. However, it certainly is an area that seems to provide a good crossover for a number of reasons.
Firstly, content films are often lower budget, which makes it difficult for the more established ad directors to tackle. So it’s a good foot in the door with an agency for a young video director. This goes hand in hand with being resourceful on these budgets, working with smaller, more agile crews. Promo directors are also often way more in touch with new trends and markets, being particularly aware of the fast changing viewing habits of new generations.
BSB: Is it a leap of faith representing promo directors for commercials?
OB: Firstly, I must stress that most of the directors we represent for commercials at Somesuch [& Co.] are already very established in this area, most of which cut their teeth on music videos. Using any new director takes a certain amount of faith but it’s a calculated risk isn’t it?
To continue to create award-winning, ground-breaking work we all have to take chances but personally I think a music video director who has shot endless under-resourced films with stunning results is minimal risk, providing they’re surrounded by an experienced team in that given market. And quite often these directors have had the chance to experiment, make mistakes and be confident in their decisions – more so than a director who’s been restricted by the rigidity of shooting commercials for however long.
BSB: Is OB Management an institution for turning promo directors into commercial directors or something more interesting?
OB: Ha, an institution. I like that, apart from it makes us sound like old farts! I think more than anything we’re a trusted resource for talent. That’s where we get our buzz, whether it’s a debut director shooting a 2k music video for an awesome new artist or pointing an agency to a director they hadn’t considered before, that’s really where we’ve positioned ourselves. But we do love using the world of music to find the next generation of directors, photographers and designers. It’s a good formula.
It’s hard for anyone to make a business out of music videos but our position in that world has great value if harnessed properly. Hmm, maybe an institution is a good description. We do get to see our directors grow through promos, then commercials and sometimes then fly the nest on to features. Maybe we need to be film agents too? Then we really would be an institution for directors.
BSB: Who are some good examples of directors bridging markets and genres?
OB: You have to look at Somesuch as a company that has done this very successfully with 90 per cent of their directors coming from a background in music videos, many of them still dipping their toes in to creatively stimulate themselves and push the boundaries.
Classic examples that have transcended these worlds are the likes of Romain Gavras and Daniel Wolfe, both of which have brought their individual styles from promos to provide a bold, refreshing antidote to traditional commercials and beyond. In fact, Daniel’s first feature film, Catch me Daddy, comes out later this year and is set to establish him as one of the UK’s brightest talents. If you want to check out some great new talent emerging into commercials from promos, check out Bob Harlow, Abteen Beghari, Ben Strebel, Aoife Mcardle and George Belfield.
BSB: Has working in promos affected the way you spot talent for commercials?
OB: We certainly know what we’re looking for in directors. It’s not just about their reel but the whole package, their mindset, ideas and clarity of vision when we meet them. I guess the main difference when looking for talent is that music video directors HAVE to have ideas, they need to be able to offer up clever creatives from quite open briefs. You can be the most accomplished, well-crafted filmmaker with impeccable execution but if you can’t come up with an original concept then you’ll never actually book a video. The labels rely heavily on directors to come up with a creative for their artists; the director is essentially doing the agency creative role, it’s 50 per cent of the job in music videos. That’s why I think promo directors make amazing ad directors, because they generally bring more ideas to the table and delve deeper into the concept looking at every possible twist and turn. Dougal Wilson is probably one of the best examples of this.
BSB: Do you ever get the other way round? Commercial directors who want to go into promos?
OB: Oh yes, many commercial directors crave a bit more freedom, an opportunity to make something for themselves and show the world what they can really do. It’s a great way of showcasing a different skillset if you’re a commercials director that is stuck in a particular style of work.
‘Dim Half Light is a comment on the atrocity and never ending poetry found in all forms of war.’ (James P Honey, BURIERS front Man)
‘Like a modern-day Leonard Cohen.’ Volume Magazine
Directed by photographer Sam Barker, the film entails a collage of people battling through an evening through an artistic and poetic depiction of the band’s journey through life. WATCH HERE: Dim Half Light
‘Raw, vital… real.’ Clash
Follow them on FACEBOOK
Lyrics To Listen To (James P Honey’s show on London Fields Radio): http://www.mixcloud.com/londonfieldsradio/lyrics-to-listen-to-vol3
22 Norwich Arts Centre
23 Komedia, Brighton
24 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
25 The Bodega, Nottingham
26 The Sage, Gateshead
27 Broadcast, Glasgow
28 The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
29 Union Chapel, LONDON
30 Thekla, Bristol
29 The Old Queen’s Head, LONDON
Groundbreaking electronic music acts Skrillex and Boys Noize recently approached London based animation studio Golden Wolf to create a bespoke music video for their collaborative, experimental music project ‘Dog Blood’. The highly anticipated video marks the first official realease from the group’s second EP ‘Middle Finger PT 2’. The Golden Wolf team instinctively took this project as an opportunity to create something new and extra special, a fresh and exciting approach to animation in music videos in collaboration their sister studio, ilovedust.
“This seemed like the perfect project to team up together and create something a little different… A little grimy .. A little bit like being bitten by a dog from outer space. Golden Wolf Vs Dogblood appeared like ‘one hell of a collaboration’ for our first project of 2014” – ilovedust
The project was handled like a short film, creating a visually rich and stylised world where multiple narratives could be intertwined together. The teams at Golden Wolf and Ilovedust devoted their time to establish a unique style taking inspiration from a wide range of sources from The Cold War, Space Race to the Occult. Golden Wolf‘s attention to detail in the video is striking, especially taking into account that they only used gray scale. Overlapping images flash throughout the high octane visual, bouncing back and forth between elaborate visions of the cockpit, sketchy government photos and documents, and a whirlwind of destruction in and out of the flying craft.
The project took over 3 months to produce, created entirely in house at Golden Wolf’s studio in Shoreditch. The whole team took this project as an opportunity to pool their resources and departments into one venture. Combining a gritty, retro, graphic style with the latest 3D and 2D animation techniques, the film blends an intricate narrative into a retro-future style, a look and feel unique to the studio.
“It’s a piece we are immensely proud of and was so special to us to work on, not only as we are massive fans of the artists but more because we saw this an opportunity to create something unique and special. We called on our sister company ilovedust to help us define a style based on Dog Blood’s already well-established aesthetic that we could take into motion. We feel the style we’ve established is something that’s new and unique to us.” – Golden Wolf
Yvette immediately connected with the track and theme leading her to create a cinematic, narrative promo filled with obsession, referencing Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ (1958), whilst at the same time playing with the audience’s perception of who is alien and who is human as the story unravels.
It was important for Farmer, that the film’s look referenced the Technicolor of Hitchcock’s films from this period and the work to achieve that started in wardrobe & art direction choices, choosing colours to ‘pop’ on screen and continued into the grade where she spent many hours achieving a close match.
Shot over 2 days at several locations in North London, this quirky film’s final location was set in the abandoned platform location was the site of Crouch End Railway Station. The man sized ‘Spriggan’ sculpture by Marilyn Collins featured refers to a local urban legend, a ghostly ‘goat-man’ who apparently haunted the walk in the 1970s and 1980s. Local children playing out in the evenings would ‘dare’ each other to walk the Parkland Walk from the Crouch End Hill bridge to the Crouch Hill bridge in the darkness. The sculpture, and Parkland Walk generally, also provided the inspiration for Stephen King‘s short story “Crouch End“.
FULL CREDITS and FILM: Promo News
The Sanctuary at Wilderness Festival 2014 returns for another body-healing, soul-nourishing year, securely nestled on the top of a beautifully shaded hill above the lakes. Hugely popular – the Sanctuary has even more to offer in 2014.
The wild wellbeing team (Claire Hamilton and Colette Crespin) has curated The Sanctuary as a festival destination, combining leading yoga teachers to twist, stretch and shake down your body, alongside a repertoire of highly qualified therapists and complementary health and wellbeing consultants from all disciplines. From acupuncture to zero-balancing, there is no ail that can’t addressed in this village of happiness.
Opening at 7am with sunrise meditation, The Sanctuary will ease you into wakefulness and set you up for your day, there will be a tented village of private consultations, group workshops and treatments to spoil even the yoga addict or wellbeing worshiper for choice.
Alongside signature (and sell-out) Wilderness massages and facials, The Sanctuary offers bespoke solar showers, a chill and change area plus a fantastic fortifying café and juice bar. The Sanctuary is the place to be for those needing to escape the frivolities of the festival for respite and revival. You are all welcome, soak up the calm of the Buddha garden and bring space to the mind and total rejuvenation to the body.
Pre-booking online will open soon to secure your chosen classes or therapies. An ever-friendly staff of receptionists will also be at your service to check you in for a drop in class or treatment.
Whispers about The Sanctuary from last year…
“It was hands up honestly the best facial I’ve ever had, and will definitely do it again.”
Carla Buzasi, Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post
“It was absolutely blissful!! My therapist was an actual joy.”
Naomi Smart, Vogue
The New Festival from Mama Group launches TONIGHT as tickets go on sale: SOMERSAULT FESTIVAL.
Wild Wellbeing will be curating and producing a stunning well-being area, committed to taking care of you throughout the festival and be looking after every aspect of your health, wellbeing and happiness this Somersault.
The team will host; workshops and therapies in beautifully hand crafted yurts and also have a plethora of independent pitch therapists each with their own unique stamp and practice for you to choose the perfect complement to your festival experience. As it is a new festival, the Wild Wellbeing team are collaborating with some stunning partners to ensure that you have the highest quality and eco friendly products for your facials, massages, eco showers and chill out areas, providing an organic juice bar, herbal teas and also a beautiful garden for you to rest your laurels.
Look out for press going out tonight and today at 10pm – Ticketmaster page and our Somersault website go live.
1.4 CATCH UP WITH CUT + RUN’S BEN CAMPBELL ON EDITING A SERIES OF PORTRAIT FILMS DIRECTED BY LEILA AND DAMIEN DE BLINKK FOR SCOTTISH WIDOWS. SEE IN RELATED CONTENT FOR MORE FILMS
Please tell us about the process of editing down the footage to get these vignettes of different characters?
Leila and Damien de Blinkk take big beautiful ideas and weave magic and spontaneity into the British zeitgeist in a truly original form.
The problem in the case of the Scottish Widows concept was how to untangle a 60-second commercial from the 40 hours of pictures and 6 hours of interviews.
The agency brief was to shoot non actors from the breadth of human life, and by the third day of eight production days I was starting to get a little worried, knowing just how bloody diverse human life can be, and how much the DOP, Benjamin Krakun, likes to shoot it! As per usual, my plea to “make sure the cameras are turned off every now and then”, fell on deaf ears.
So do you prefer a tight script or yards, perhaps miles, of footage to play with?
Most of us are aware of the pros and cons of this style of shooting; it delivers a lot of freedom to the right kind of editor. For me, having freedom and the chance to put one’s personality on an edit and sound is the real joy – the: ‘Here’s a ton of stuff, now go and figure out what to do with it please!’ approach.
Although the old school, ‘shoot the boards with no more than the necessary takes,’ has it’s benefits too, especially if the script is so solid that not much more is required. You can see it on the page and think, this makes sense and is going to be good.
Hitchcock, whose personal comments on life can be heard at the beginning of the main TVC, famously shot absolutely no more than was necessary, to restrict the control that David O. Selznik and the studio execs had over final cut in the early 40s. The way Hitchcock shot it meant there was only one obvious way to piece the film together and his vision remained in tact, not on the cutting room floor.
How did you adhere to the core message?
With the creative freedom this film gave me, I had one major concern – how do you construct a film that encourages safety and security for those who don’t necessarily have their future mapped out?
I can’t say I have thought about retirement in any great detail, and as far as looking into the future goes, the best I managed to do today was book my outbound flight for skiing in two months time! The idea was not to panic the audience, not to turn Scottish Widows into the voice of doom, but to show how people can feel liberated because they’ve made plans for the future. We all know that guilt buying and selling is extremely off-putting and makes enemies out of companies that want you to trust them. In this case 101 Creative Director, Simon Schmitt got it right with, “Life feels better when you have a plan.”
What were the major challenges of the edit?
Over eight days, the two crews chased after 20 separate groups of characters and shot the classic Scottish Widow in the studio. The concept was to cut a 60 second TVC and six-character based online films. These were important, as these would provide the real back-story for the main TVC. Without these, no matter how beautiful the main spot was, the TVC would be left floating about in the ad break ether with other ‘lifestyle’ commercials where ‘real’ people live in a saccharine music world, making lonely girls and boys blub for Britain.
The usual time constraints meant that my assistant editor, Chris Roebuck, was brought on board and under scrutiny, cut three of the online films. Our brief was to avoid the obvious clichés and, thankfully, our client was behind us. A bold move as this was a rebrand with a large media spend, which could have led to a lot of nervousness and endless re-edits. With this bravery in mind, our shot selection for the films was not necessarily about looking for what would fit into the usual advertising mold; a perfect smile, a slick hand gesture, the blink of an eye. Instead, we wanted moments from the usual strangeness of everyday life. Things you would notice and ponder, if you were walking down the street.
As I watched and listened to the many different characters in great detail, it gave me the opportunity to get to know and like them, which in turn gave them the best chance to be accurately and honestly translated in the edit and because of this, each of the online films present the real essence of these characters.
Forty hours to six hours, six hours to one hour, and then we had a three minute film, all aided by the Walter Murch method of sticking up stills of all the set ups from the rushes. I was lucky enough to spend two weeks shadowing the great editor and sound designer in 2002, while he was working on Cold Mountain, and got to see this method first hand. I really must put that Friso Kramer drawing table to use soon!
Was it a smooth collaboration to winning client approval?
By the time we showed the Scottish Widows Marketing Director an over length cut we were already happy, and with the help of Blinkk and 101 we cut it down to 60 seconds, losing many beautiful but ultimately useless shots . . . “The leaves are just boring in this shot. This shot wants to be uncomfortably long! Le chien la, vraiment? YES!!!”
Our initial music choice was sadly defenestrated by the client, and after pitching out to some very special musicians; we came up with a new plan for the main TVC and 2 brilliant composers for the online films. For the online films I asked for stems, and with audio from the shoot I cut, sliced, spliced and had a lot of fun, although it was exhausting work – extensive on some (Mehdi’s story) and minimal on others (Vincent’s story) – each character demanded it.
Then there we were, waiting for client approval… Which thanks to work behind the scenes by 101 was incredibly smooth. 46 hours to 9 short films, a great team, great job and a great chance to book another holiday… Ghana, I think.
The LBB Team believe you deserve something to look forward to, so what better time than now to invite you to the Little Black Book and Friends Beach at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival in June.
Previously named ‘La Plage Courage’, the beach has undergone a bit of a makeover and heading into their 5th year, they are gearing up for what will be their biggest and best year yet. Join their wonderful co-hosts on the beach and mix with the crowd on the Croisette Beach, located on La Croisette, between the Carlton and the Martinez. Look out for the flags, banners, signs and heaps of global advertising people crowding the loungers, networking, eating, drinking and relaxing.
If you’re sick of roaming around Cannes hoping to meet your clients and potential new business then this beach is the place to head to for networking and mingling in Cannes. A great place to meet your clients and colleagues on the beach with free Wi-Fi, free sun loungers, a full restaurant and bar at your disposal with brilliant and friendly staff. You can’t miss Happy Hour every afternoon with FREE beer, wine and lots of fun.
If you’re on your own and it’s your first time in Cannes, this place will be your safe haven and you’ll be doing business all day long with very little effort. Last Year in Pictures
2014 partnerships include: Rushes, Campaign Magazine, Simian, Jungle, Native, El Carousel, London International Awards, Talent Partners, The Good Film Company, PostAds Group, Inc., The Lift Mx, Vagabond Films, Farm Films, Adstream and Chesterfield Group. If you’re interested in co-hosting or have any questions get in touch with Katherine Peach at email@example.com See you on the beach!
For FULL itinerary and updates go to the FB Event: LBB & Friends 2014
Rebecca McDonald launched a hugely successful first exhibition at the beginning of 2014 at The New Craftsman Gallery in St Ives. A completely original and visually spectacular exhibition a wonderfully talented animal sculpture and installation artist, ‘Under the Wild Stars’ was a soulful celebration of epic landscapes and even grander skies both familiar and foreign, and the wonderful, elusive creatures that roam within them. Tangerine LOVED this exhibition! Check out some beautiful MAKING OF images.
“I like the idea of objects that collect a sense of mythology around them, I want them to be personable and connect to be emotive, nostalgic and reassuring. Rebecca McDonald
2014 sees the launch and success of ‘Tangerine Consulting’. In-depth analysis and coaching with a strong business strategy and well targeted PR and Marketing plan. This service offers the observation and development of your company Mission, Vision and examines together to create a successful model of working as well as looking at market trends to best help boost your business.
An invaluable asset to all companies, especially the start up realm, this service is confidential, personal and you will walk away feeling empowered with a full strategy report and follow up if required. Tangerine are proud to have already worked with the following facilities and seen a significant increase in their PR, New Business and happiness since working together; IVORY, STITCHTHAT and TEEPEE PRODUCTIONS All have been a pleasure to work with.
Article by Alex Reeves in the beak Street Bugle featuring Tangerine.
For decades, the British commercial production company has remained a two-headed beast, serving both as a group of specialists with film production skills and as a corral for the creative talents that bring magic to these films – their jealously coveted directors.
But as things change at a blinding pace in this creative, tech-driven industry, people have begun to question this system. Companies have started bringing directors out of the production companies’ dominion and dedicating their entire business to selling these talents. Reps have been turning independent.
Various business models are knocking about. Some offer a roster of completely independent directors, leaving the choice of who produces a film up to the client. Other independent directors representatives sell the talents of directors from several small production companies, building a sizeable roster out of smaller ones. Others are more about breaking down boundaries between commercials, TV, film and online.
Breaking away from the rigid yet tried-and-tested model of directors tied to their production company, this approach seems to be gaining momentum, with companies like Las Bandas, Soho Pantry, Enid, McQ, Tangerine and Talent Hungry coming onto the scene. So what has driven this change? We spoke to a cross-section of the industry and broke it down to seven factors:
1. Everyone’s a Director Now
Now we’ve all got sci-fi technology in our pockets, any idiot with the audacity to call themselves a film director can use the filmmaking processes that used to take years of training to master. And in a culture where we’re encouraged to believe that we’re unique creative individuals, just like everyone else, there are quite a lot of those. “Everyone in the world thinks they’re a director now,” says Jen Herrera, who reps directors independently for Las Bandas. She’s only half-joking.
Inevitably, some of these are genuinely talented and, with production companies fighting over jobs, they can’t sign them all. Some independent reps pick up this slack, meaning production companies can borrow these directors. As Lise McQuillin, Managing Partner of McQ, says, “some struggle to understand why a director would ever want to be represented by anything other than a production company. Some see it as a great creative and cost-effective resource, as they can have an extension to their existing roster and need never turn a project down.”
2. The Rise of the Boutique Production Company
We’re living in an entrepreneurial age, where it’s become perfectly acceptable for twenty-somethings with wild ideas to become their own bosses and, sometimes, build something impressive out of nothing. So it’s not surprising that London’s production community has burgeoned in the past decade. The Advertising Producers Association (APA) now has over 150 member production companies, but the vast majority of these are cosy boutique operations, with just a handful of directors and only a couple of permanent staff.
“There are lots more smaller production companies,” says Colette Crespin, who runs Tangerine. “The amount of money a full-time rep might want isn’t necessarily within the budgetary constraints of what a smaller production company might have. This [model of representation] is just being savvy and cost-efficient.”
Even if they could afford it, employing a dedicated directors’ rep would probably be overkill for these companies – talking about three directors over and over could be extremely tedious. It makes sense for several rosters to unite under one banner, saving the small companies money and giving them more clout when it comes to fighting past agencies’ fortified gates.
The one problem with this is that these companies are effectively competitors, so they need to be wary of clashes between similar directors. John Doris, Managing Director of Mustard would worry about this if he ran a smaller company. “They’re going to push the directors that are going to get them a script,” he says. “There’s got to be a pecking order within that amalgamated roster.” This sort of repping comes with delicate politics that can be difficult to balance, but for many companies it’s still a compelling option.
3. There’s No Money
In the production industry’s eyes, budgets have never been big enough. A bit more money could always be put to use somewhere. But since the economy took a nose-dive these challenges are more threatening than ever. And with cost controllers scrutinising every expense, clients wonder exactly how much they should be spending on a director.
While it’s no longer the jet setting 80s, there are still big jobs, but these are thinner on the ground, meaning even the top directors are less busy. “I don’t think there’s as much trickle down as there used to be,” considers Bradley Woodus, a producer at Dare, “because the busy directors aren’t as busy as they once were, when jobs might have been passed down to someone younger.”
Without this serendipity to rely on, newer directors need as much exposure to agencies as they can get, and since independent reps started taking on small production company’s rosters, being a small fish in a small pond can often be better than getting lost in a big shoal.
4. Video is Conquering the Internet
While budgets shrink, the quantity of video content being commissioned is rampantly growing. This is another boon for the less-experienced directors out there. The top-level directors pick up the few big-money TV ads still floating about, while the rest have a vast gamut of online content to direct.
“About two years ago digital became a serious thing,” says Jen, “which meant that budgets were going to be less. But there’s more content, constantly needing more people. Everything I shoot now, there always needs to be a making-of video.”
Independent reps are well suited to servicing this low-budget, online-only sort of work – jobs the big production companies might not see as worthwhile, if a production company is involved at all.
5. Everyone is Having a Go at Production
Production companies no longer have a monopoly on production. In an age where any kid with an iPhone can make passable video content, everyone’s having a pop. Brands and agencies are trying to bring some production in-house, and even a few post production houses have started dabbling in the physical world.
If brands are doing things differently, then Lise thinks the production industry, including independent representation, needs to step up too. “We should at least match them,” she says, “if not lead the change in the way we create and deliver productions. Using independent directors is just one small step forward.”
Understandably, production companies are a bit miffed by this, so they’re unlikely to let their directors swan off and direct films in these new arrangements. Independently represented directors are much more flexible though, and their reps are much happier to speak to the new types of client this shift in the industry has created.
6. Agency Time is Precious
Nobody likes being sold to, particularly in Britain. So it’s understandable that agencies often resent the endless stream of reps banging at their portcullis to show reels.
The problem is that it’s important for producers and creatives to know what talent is available to them. They know this, but it’s never quite as urgent as the other stuff they have to get on with, so it often doesn’t get the time it deserves.
The big production companies will get past the gatekeepers relatively easily – agencies know they need to keep up with the work they’re doing. But independent directors or those on newer rosters don’t have a strong brand to lubricate this process. A good rep can provide this lubrication.
“The role of the rep has had to change,” says Colette. “Agencies don’t have time to see every rep from every company coming in and showing them 20 pieces of work, so an independent rep with a few companies on their roster is more of a resource.”
With the right address book and enough kudos in the industry, an independent rep can get their directors quality airtime in front of the right producers and creatives. “As an agency, there’s no difference between an independent representative coming in or a representative who looks after one company, as far as I’m concerned,” says Bradley. “It’s talent, it’s directors and it’s just trying to keep abreast of what’s going on in the business.”
7. The Internet is Big
The APA website links to the websites of the vast majority of production companies in the UK. Through portals like this an agency looking for a director has access to hundreds of directors reels.
With such a big catalogue at their fingertips, why would they want something as anachronistic as a person physically coming to their office to show them films? Surely the directors’ rep has gone the way of the switchboard operator and the typesetter.
Actually, no. Reps are as relevant as ever, but for different reasons. Sifting through hundreds of director’s reels searching for the one? To quote internet sensation Sweet Brown, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” What this ultimately means is that agency producers searching for the perfect director will check the companies they know and not much further.
It’s all too easy to click away from a website after watching one less-than-perfect video, points out Bradley. “If someone comes in to show you some work it might not be until spot three or four that you see something relevant, whereas online, if you watch one spot and it’s not ticking the box, there’s every chance that you’ll click away.” What a rep can do is make sure the right producer sees the right work, picking the perfect pearl from the vast sea of unfamiliar directors.
Independent repping is a sign of the times. If these seven factors continue to influence the industry then we could be seeing a lot more of it.
But it shouldn’t be seen as a paradigm shift. The traditional model of dedicated reps will continue as long as the big companies have regular work and, as fickle as some directors may be, if a company lets them direct Nike and Guinness ads then they’ll be safe and sound.
The independent model may continue to grow but it shouldn’t have too much trouble fitting alongside its predecessor. “I’ve got no qualms bidding against independent representation,” says John. “If an independent rep is personable, professional and knows their business, there’s no reason they can’t go on a board like a production company.”