Directions to Direction: Ivana Bobic

September 24, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Her films may be cool, but this director’s past has made her a shameless geek.

Ivana Bobic watched Alien when she was about five years old. “My dad explained it was just cheese coming out of the guy,” she says. “I don’t remember being particularly scared so I think my threshold for horror and action was quite high.” From there she grew up with a fervent love for film (particular favourites as a kid were Indiana Jones and Top Gun). It’s put her in good stead. She’s now an award-winning director of short films, music videos and commercials, directing tough, stylish video on both the Park Village and Able & Baker rosters.

Her route to directing wasn’t straightforward (it never is), but she got off to a good start quite early. Aged 18 she became a runner, because that’s what you do when you want to work in film.

“I didn’t really know what was going on,” she admits, but she soon learned. Her first shoot was on was for a short film at Pinewood, next to the 007 stage, no less – almost too much for a teenaged action movie admirer.

Her career in filmmaking progressed steadily. She was only running for half a day before she was promoted to video assists. She did well enough to get asked back, so she must have done something right.

As it turns out, the video assist role was a great vantage point from which to learn about filmmaking. Ivana soon became close to the camera department and loved the work she did. “It’s quite demanding and fiddly [but] it’s super geeky,” she says, “and secretly that’s what I’m into. I was really obsessed with knowing how things work.”

Sitting next to the director and quietly watching the process was how she learnt the fundamentals and soon she was working on set for loads of promos and commercials with the camera crew. “I didn’t get paid loads but I did it quite regularly on all sorts of different productions,” she says. She started to do jobs in all corners of production, from art department to production assisting, but it was always video assist she enjoyed the most.

Ivana has no doubt that experience on set was how she learnt enough to become the director she is today. “I have a huge respect for the well-oiled machine of the set with really specific people doing things they’re really talented at,” she says. Having that vast spectrum of specialised talent to go and speak to as a resource wasn’t wasted on her.

Soon after her first forays into film, Ivana had begun a foundation course at Central Saint Martins that led into a graphic design degree at the London College of Communication. She found it interesting and it taught her aesthetic rules which you can see being used and (more interestingly) broken in her films, but her love for moving image was already cemented by then. “I knew I wanted to do film because I didn’t mind waking up at five in the morning and going and doing crazy stuff [for it],” she says. She remembers the horrible hours, menial labour and unglamorous locations as a sort of test. If none of it bothered her then she must be onto something.

By her third year of university, Ivana had worked enough in film to realise she might want to become a director. So she decided to make her own film to see how it went. “It was hugely embarrassing and nobody will ever see it,” she says. “I was just trying to figure things out and you learn a lot by practice.”

Eventually she made a short film that she was happy with. It was called The Priest and was really made as to educate herself in directing. “I was trying to figure out some way of doing something with no dialogue, on landscape, one actor – the most minimalistic thing we could do as an exercise,” she explains.

Ivana managed to convince Rain Li to work as director of photography on the film, despite the fact she had to fly over from LA, where she was shooting a feature. She was shocked that Rain, who’d worked with people like Jim Jarmusch, was interested in collaborating with her, but it worked out immensely well and the pair have in fact worked together on many projects since. “That was the clinching point,” she says. “I [already] knew I wanted to work in film. After making The Priest I knew I wanted to direct. There are so many things you can do in film, but for me the ability to be able to work with every department, everyone, is exciting.”

From that point on Ivana kept a steady stream of directing going, including films and live visuals for a band called S.C.U.M., which was a new challenge. She also started working on fashion films for Stella McCartney. “I had two completely different things going on at the same time,” she says, “but both involved me shooting and editing on my own and being a one-girl band.”

But she missed working with bigger crews when she worked alone. A good director isn’t a dictator, as she sees it. “I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt through the way that I’ve got my way into making films is to have a clear vision, but to know when to collaborate, let go and trust people. Because they know what they’re doing.”

Stella McCartney was her first foray into directing on commercial briefs, although being a fashion brand, she admits the experience was very free-flowing. “We learnt as we went along,” she says.

One thing that struck her about working in fashion was the breakneck pace. With each collection a brand changes violently in style – “it might be hip hop orientated and then the next season is really floral and feminine,” she says – but she found that to be a good lesson. “I think having all those different views of what a brand or collection can be can be is good for learning how to work in advertising. Fast is not necessarily always good but it can be a good challenge.”

After a period directing in the music and fashion spheres, Ivana was glad to return to short films. She had the chance to shoot one in Belgrade, where she had spent the first five years of her childhood, and was happy to do proper storytelling again. The film was called In the Night, and working with Rain again, shooting on a 4K Epic and with a big crew, Ivana was glad to make this shift in tone.

That film got Ivana some well-deserved attention and she was asked to do a trailer for the London Short Film Festival, as well as an exhibition at the festival itself. The most exciting part was that it was a proper cinema trailer, to be distributed in cinemas all over London for a couple of months. The exposure was too tempting for her.

Working with editor Ben Campbell, she was keen on making sure the film had a strong rhythm and together they became obsessed with getting the most out of sound design. “I’ve found that how you can incorporate sound and image is interesting,” she says “- that you’re not just illustrating the picture with sound; you’re creating a whole different thing. We had so much fun with that, putting in things that weren’t there, making stuff that was fun and humorous and dark and atmospheric all at once.” It ended up winning a Music and Sound award for best sound design in cinema advertising, which Ivana is immensely proud of. “It is so good because it’s a very techy, geeky award,” she says.

The past year or so has been intensive. Having worked with all sorts of clients semi-freelance she ended up realising she’d be stronger with a production company behind her. Her next big film was a project for Russian department store Au Pont Rouge and it was a job that would have been impossible without Able & Baker, who produced it. She describes the brief as “a full-blown car chase thriller running round all over St Petersburg with stunt cars and big units.”

As a female director, Ivana’s keen not to get bundled into the corner so many women do – directing delicate commercials with children and beauty products – and this project was exactly right for proving a sexist industry that she can do tough and high-octane as well as beautiful and human. Her upbringing on action films served her well and it’s left her wanting more of this kind of thing. “I love getting to play with cars,” she says. “I definitely at some point want to do a car ad.”

With those two projects on her reel, Ivana was back in her groove working with big crews, but with no agency, she could exercise more freedom interpreting the brief.

Her most recent commercial project was different. Working with AKQA and Nivea was a great chance for to do something closer to a normal commercial production. Working with the real-life talent of a ballerina was right up her street too, bringing a toughness to an art form that’s traditionally very gentle, playing on the tension between grace and power. Again, she got a bit geeky. “I wanted to have these quite technical match cuts between the two [the tough side and the soft side] so she is always existing on both sides,” she says. With a strong vision from the agency, Ivana didn’t have to worry about the idea, but she enjoyed being able to delve into the details of the lighting, the grade, the sound design and the music.

And she's only getting more technical as she goes on. Her latest music video for The Kooks saw her develop a completely unprecendented technique with DOP Jake Scott, building a giant human zoetrope using a strobe light to act as a shutter.

 

Ivana’s love for directing comes from her respect for all the other professionals she works with and she’s let this shape her style. Now working on and pitching for more commercial jobs alongside the music and fashion, she’s keen to collaborate with people who really know their trade. "It's all about confidence and knowing what you want," she's learned, "but also learning when to let go."

Jumping the Fence: Neal Handley

September 22, 2014 / Features

By Neal Handley

An Englishman in New York.

Neal Handley
Was: Account Director at various advertising agencies
Now: Head of Business Development at Pipe Dreams 

I have a confession to make.
I’m an ex-agency account man.
I don’t know how many of us there are in production land or if there is a stigma attached to it but it sounds like the sort of thing I should confess to. Possibly apologise for?

Perhaps it was 10 years of life in agencies that instilled this sense of unease in me? The years of my agency producer rolling their eyes when I explained the latest insane client request or being held at arm’s length from genius directors and brutally honest location managers etc. etc. but it did feel as though, when I jumped the fence to a production company, I was a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Now I’ve been this side for a while I have started to question something.  Are the production and the account management roles really that different? After all, if they are done properly they are both about (among other things) building relationships, generating trust and ultimately guiding the brand client to the best creative solution possible.

So here’s a slightly fudged and probably more than slightly biased take on what I’ve learned in my decade on the agency side of the fence and my fleeting 12 months on the production side. A view from the other side while I can still remember it and before I get completely assimilated into the production way of thinking.

I have a theory that every great producer is already a good account man but they just don’t know it, or care to acknowledge it.

For instance here are four golden rules of client liaison that get bandied about the average agency account management department, sometimes worded in different ways but all essentially the same and, I would argue, they are all patently obvious and instinctive to the best producers.

1. Detail is king
This is a mantra to most account men, especially in the early years. If you don’t count the number of attendees at a meeting you might run out of biscuits or there might not be enough copies of the document. Harrowing enough, but if producers didn’t adhere to this rule from the outset of their careers, artists would turn up at London Victoria while the crew are ready to shoot in Manchester Victoria, a US casting would happen on  6th July rather than the 7th June and shoots would regularly be drastically over budget.

Detail is the day-to-day currency of the producer and the account manager alike.
It’s just a lot more noticeable and potentially expensive if a producer drops the ball.

2. Under promise, over deliver
Again, this seems almost axiomatic in most agencies and barely a day goes by without hearing it, or at least sensing it being said somewhere in the building by a wise old account handler to their graduate charge.

But it instinctively seems to be at loggerheads with an equally ubiquitous piece of advice; ‘Never say no to a client’ – if client expectations are unreasonably high how can you ever over deliver?

Conversely, there is a widely held belief amongst account men that a producer’s default response is ‘No’. As long as this is the case, and production companies continue to play bad cop to the account management good cop by defending their budgets to the bitter end, the awkward conversations can all happen up front rather than further down the line or even after delivery, and minor production ‘miracles’ can still be pulled out of the hat when possible to surprise and delight the client.

3. Add value
It might be less obvious how this can be the remit of the producer but there are plenty of ways that great producers go above and beyond the call of duty. From knowing the brand inside out so that a mistake on the product shot is picked up before the client or the account team even notice, to remembering that the brand CEO has a phobia of bare feet so ensuring they are cropped out of shot (this one happened on one of the last ads I was involved in from the agency side).

Adding value isn’t a mystical power, it’s about being interested and interesting and anyone who is good at their job should be able to do it and do it often.

4. Be a partner not just a supplier
Account teams are always looking to elevate their relationship with clients to a business partnership where the client will consult them on all manner of business problems in addition to advertising – to become truly indispensible to the marketing team. Knowing the client’s business inside out is integral to this process and that includes their business goals, ways of working and internal politics.

This is instinctive to a good producer. Knowing how certain CDs like their scripts to be visualised, what level of client facing duty different agencies / clients might expect etc. is part of doing a good job and the quickest route to repeat business.
It might have been that back in the day the best way to get in with an agency was to foot the bill for long lunches or other little (less wholesome?) enticements but, in this day of transparency, it is just as likely to be the result of a savvy producer knowing the ins and outs of how the agency works and working with those idiosyncrasies to smooth the process.

I guess what I’m saying is, while the average account manager might be apprehensive of the mysterious world of production, with its brown envelopes stuffed with money and crews of thousands, and it might be tempting for producers to think of account handlers as slack jawed yes men, it might also be useful to recognise the fact that there are parallels in the roles even though the worlds they operate in are very different.

When working at their best the account handler is the practical face of the client and the agency while the producer is the reasoned face of the director and crew.

Neither of them ‘make the stuff’ but they ‘make the stuff happen which makes the stuff’ and while it would be easy to say they are the glue that holds the process together I think it would be more accurate to say they are more like the Velcro that binds the two distinct parts of a production. Briefly. Before they are ripped apart and put back together next time they are needed.

There you go – producers and account managers are the Velcro of adland. Which of them is the rough, spikey side and which is the soft fluffy side you can debate amongst yourselves...

Signed: Callum Cooper

September 22, 2014 / Signed/Unsigned

By The Beak Street Bugle

An arty Aussie with a passion for camera trickery.

With his filmmaking roots in art, Callum Cooper has built an unconventional reel for himself made up of experiments in aesthetics and documentaries. Originally from Australia, he’s now based in London, but has toured the world on the film festival circuit on the way, stopping at a few art galleries for the odd installation.

Good Egg now represent him for commercial undertakings worldwide and he’s just shot his first music video for Month of Sundays by Metronomy. Not a bad start to his promo career, considering the band had a top-ten album earlier this year. It’s intriguing, drawing on Eastern European influences and clever camera trickery.

Watch some of his work here:

High Five: September

September 11, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

The month’s best advertising in all its beautiful diversity.

Our favourite ads of this month are a proper pick ‘n’ mix. Some are from brands that hit the ball out the park every time; others are refreshing ideas from brands this industry doesn’t often celebrate. We’ve got mixed media techniques, celebrity endorsements and charitable initiatives. Advertising is a diverse and multi-headed beast.

Brand: Axe
Title: Monday; Wednesday
Production Company: Riff Raff
Director: Jonas & François
Production Company Producer: Jane Tredgett
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creative Directors: Wesley Hawes, Gary McCreadie
Creatives: Charlene Chandrasekaran, Carl Broadhurst, Peter Reid, Dan Morris
Agency Producer: Chris Watling
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editors: Patric Ryan
Music Company: Big Sync Music
Sound Company: String and Tins
Sound Designer: Will Cohen
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Axe – Monday; Wednesday

BBH have been consistently turning out commercials for Axe for a while now and it looks like their streak is set to continue. Rather than focusing on the usual claims of sexual fortune, Axe is promising something altogether more general here. It’s about loving yourself before you can love others and seizing the day. Riff Raff’s music video wizards Jonas & François are a great choice to direct such a vibrant and energetic brace of commercials. They bring just the right amount of flair and just the right tone for the brand.

 

Brand: Coors Light
Title: Ice Bar
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Danny Kleinman
Production Company Producer: Johnnie Frankel
Ad Agency: VCCP
Creative Director: Jim Capp
Copywriter: Jermaine Hillman
Art Director: Paul Kocur
Agency Producer: Andy Leahy
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Julian Tranquille
Music Company: Wake the Town
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: Framestore

Coors Light – Ice Bar

Jean-Claude Van Damme has been the face of Coors Light since 2011 and it’s been a brilliant partnership for both him and the brand. There’s something genuinely funny about the campaign’s self-aware training-montage style, particularly when one suspects JCVD himself doesn’t quite get the joke. Now with Danny Kleinman bringing his talents to the helm, this partnership has reached its kitsch extreme, and it feels like a climax to the campaign. It’s hard to imagine The Muscles from Brussels coming back to the light beer ads, but if they can outdo this then we’ll be very impressed.

 

Brand: Direct Line
Title: Write Off
Production Company: Gorgeous
Director: Chris Palmer
Production Company Producer: Rupert Smythe & Alicia Richards
Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Creative Director: Paul Silburn
Creatives: Paul Silburn, Gemma Phillips, Mark Slack
Agency Producers: Zoe Bell, Darapen Vonga-sa, Sam Rendle-Short
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Scott Crane
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Companies: The Mill, Nineteen Twenty

Direct Line – Write Off

Insurance ads are usually complete bastards. They get in your head with their annoying jingles, silly voices and smug voiceovers from moonlighting comic actors. Thanks the marketing gods then that the new Direct Line campaign features none of these (admittedly effective) gimmicks. Sure, it does borrow its idea from Pulp Fiction – one of the most beloved films of all time – but Hervey Keitel does such a good job reprising his role as Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe that we can’t be angry with this flagrant commandeering of movie culture. It’s too good to hate.

 

Brand: Kenco
Title: Coffee Vs Gangs
Production Company: RSA
Director: Johnny Hardstaff
Production Company Producer:  Annabel Ridley
Ad Agency: JWT London
Creative Director: Jaspar Shelbourne
Copywriter: Matt Leach
Art Director: Jess Oudot
Agency Producer: Carley Reynolds
Editing Company: The Whitehouse
Editor: John Smith
Music Company: Eclectic
Composers: Colin Smith, Simon Elms
Sound Company: Greeek Street Sudions
Sound Designer: Dan Weinberg
Post Production Company: Absolute / Blind Pig

Kenco – Coffee Vs Gangs

This film is to promote Kenco’s latest initiative, transforming the lives of Honduran youths likely to get involved in a life of gang violence by teaching them to farm coffee. And whether it’s a cynical move to seem like a responsible company or not (it probably is), it’s helping people, so that’s cool. Johnny Hardstaff’s film is more naturalistic than his usual highly-stylised approach, but he brings the slums to life here in a very immersive way. And with minimal voiceover and pushing of the brand, it makes the brand look quite classy.

 

Brand: Uncle Ben’s
Title: The Family Home of the Future
Production Company: Fat Lemon
Director: Chris Faith
Production Company Producer: Cabell Hopkins
Ad Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Creative Director: Mike Hannett
Copywriter: Liam Donnelly
Art Director: Phil Holbrook
Agency Producer: Richard Grisman

Uncle Ben’s – The Family Home of the Future

As if we didn’t all despise estate agents enough already, this one puts his clients through the infuriating process of showing them a house without a kitchen. The idea is to drum up interest for Ben’s Beginners – a new YouTube cooking channel created for Uncle Ben’s. It’s impressive to see brands as prosaic as the rice specialists providing genuinely useful content online and this is a clever way to promote it, although in today’s housing market a house without a kitchen is probably still unaffordable for most first-time buyers.

Masterpiece 2014 London at the Chelsea Royal Hospital

September 10, 2014 / Arts and Culture

By Don Grant

Sadly art is now all about money, as this event proved conclusively.

This is the fifth year of Masterpiece, otherwise known as the ‘Unaffordable Art Fair.’ The opening night saw a large sparkle of guests, dealers, jeunesse dorée, hangers-on, collectors, art lovers and euro-trash milling about.

They hung around the curtains from whence poor, harassed girls emerged carrying salvers of canapés. They only made it a few yards before the gannets pounced and devoured the lot.

Could the popularity of this event be down to the fact that it trumpets the fact that it has become the premier antiques and art fair in the UK, or could it be the enormous amount of Ruinart Champagne on tap? A bit of both, one suspects. Certainly, they invite la crème de la crème from around the world, selling clocks and watches, jewellery, porcelain, furniture, antiquarian books, sculpture, paintings, prints, photographs, maps and folk art.

Amongst all these recherché objects is a perfectly ordinary Maserati, which one can see in their showroom in the Old Brompton Road, so why has it been elevated to the status of ‘art’? It’s a car! Now a Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic could be labeled ‘art’, but not a Quattroporte, which is simply Italian for four-door saloon.

If you want to buy a Lowry for £200,000 or a scaled-down cast of Rodin’s The Kiss, for quite a few hundred thousand, this is the place for you. Last November, a 3-foot-high ‘lifetime’ cast of The Kiss sold at Christie’s New York for more than $6m, more than four times its lower estimate; although the current record paid for a Rodin bronze is $19m, for a 6-foot Eve.

This fair is all about money. And class, although, there was a stack of very expensive bling on view, as well. The main sponsor was, after all, RBS Wealth Management, which underlines the notion that art is now all about money. In true fat-cattery fashion, there is even an obnoxious, high-gloss supplement called How to Spend It, published by the FT, telling their readership what to invest in, and nothing about the quality or integrity of the ‘art’. Once it was claret, then classic cars, now paintings and sculpture.

Rob and Nick Carter are young masters of creating digital images from Old Masters. Previously, they took Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s Vase With Flowers in a Window and somehow three-dimensionalised it. For Masterpiece they produced a version of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus, using a digitalised background, with day turning imperceptibly into night, into which they have placed a breathing, twitching model; unfortunately, this enhanced being has lost the innocent charm of the original, and resembles more an airbrushed Playmate, or a Vargas painting.

More successful is Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s own masterpiece. Created from the remains of mummified animals, which have been cast in solid sterling silver, it creates a silhouette portrait of the artists on the blank wall behind when illuminated from the front.

If one wanted something a little older, then a visit to Ariadne Galleries from New York would have revealed a Head of a Cycladic Idol, a beautifully simple Greek stone carving dated c.2500 BC from the Cycladic Islands in the Aegean, selling for many millions.

Both Henry Moore and Constantin Brâncuși were strongly influenced by Cycladic sculpture, and although not seen at Masterpiece, a Brâncuși head will still attract some of the highest prices of any sculptor, too rich even for this fair.

Rolls Royce car-dealers used to respond to the question, ‘How much is it, then?’ with a snotty ‘If you have to ask, you can’t afford it, sir’, which is why presumably many pieces were labelled POA, or maybe because many stall-holders were prepared to do a deal.

Robert Young was very much in evidence, with his stylish stand selling folk art, which ranged from painted peasant furniture, trade signs and treen to George Smart fabric collages and old, Welsh oak Windsor chairs. As one of the world experts on this difficult-to-categorise genre, he recently advised Tate Britain on their widely-acclaimed British Folk Art exhibition, reviewed in the June edition of this paper.

Sladmore had not one, but two, stands this year, one focussing on Nic Fiddian Green and his ubiquitous horse’s heads, bending down to drink, and the other devoted to such modern sculptors as Rembrandt Bugatti, who had a delightful Flamingo on view.

If Masterpiece regards itself as part of the ‘Season’, it has to stand alongside the RA Summer Show and Henley Royal Regatta. Adrian Sassoon had for sale an astonishing work of madness by Giovanni Corvaja, a hat, hand-crafted entirely from 160km of gold wire. The headpiece, priced at £350,000, took over 2,500 hours to make, with each of the 5 million hand-hammered gold wires being drawn through a diamond. That would certainly have turned heads at Royal Ascot.

 

Originally published in Kensington and Chelsea Today.

www.dongrant.co.uk

Backing the Underdog

September 4, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Why the Ibiza Music Video Festival is supporting the browbeaten music video industry.

For two days in October just after the tourist season finishes, as Balearic revellers slink off the island to nurse their party wounds, the Ibiza Music Video Festival appears, bringing with it an altogether more diverse crowd – anyone and everyone with an interest in music videos, from record label commissioners to aspiring young filmmakers. With day tickets only €30 and €50 for the full festival, with offers on accommodation too, it’s a few notches more inclusive than other festivals in the industry.

Now in its second year, it promises to pack as much content as possible into those two days, including workshops on practically every aspect of music video production and promotion from industry leaders, an award ceremony to celebrate the best work in the medium internationally and plenty of room for rubbing shoulders too.

Rupert Bryan, a director who also runs the production company Motion Picture House, and his collaborative partner Elizabeth Fear, launched the festival last year. “It’s not that complicated,” he says. “It’s just getting good, interesting people together and telling them ‘share your knowledge, share your skills, let some other people know about it, give them your time and maybe get a job out of it.’”

But simple doesn’t always mean easy. Rupert’s willing to admit that building a unique global event from the ground up is no easy task. So many different variables have to line up for it to work, he explains, with panels, workshops, submissions, flights and accommodation to organise. “It’s like trying to piece this massive puzzle together,” he says. “You kind of know what the end is going to look like, but all the bits are absolutely everywhere and it’s taking far too long.”

Meanwhile, he’s also trying to run a production company, making the festival organising an uphill struggle, trying to grab moments for it whenever he can. “When something good happens, that motivates you,” he says. “Then you suddenly realise you’ve got all the other 980 things you’ve got to be doing.”

The biggest challenge for the event is funding. As great as the idea is, it won’t get far without some capital behind it. That’s no great surprise though because music videos are hardly the most lucrative medium these days. Decades on from the heyday of MTV, the promo is downtrodden and somewhat sidelined by the production industry.

But that’s sort of the point for Rupert. He relishes the challenge to build something despite this adversity. “Let’s choose a business where there’s no money,” he suggests. “Let’s choose a business where people don’t want to support it because they think there’s no value in it. Brilliant idea.” Despite his sarcasm, he’s genuinely defiant. He’s done crazy things like this before, once organising a concert in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest for no good reason.

It’s not normal for someone to want to do this kind of thing, but the idea of creating something unique that people enjoy exhilarates Rupert. “Every time I catch a glimpse I stop for a second and go ‘we’re actually doing this.’”

In a time when music videos are at a low ebb, both financially and in terms of industry support, Rupert’s attempts to build this festival are simply his expression of love for a medium he’s always had a passion for. His first ventures into filmmaking were putting music to moving image and he still directs videos when he can find the time. “Oddly I think the first music video I did was when I was about 14 or 15 to a John Barry score,” he remembers. “I still enjoy it but it takes so much time and effort that I couldn’t make a living from it.”

People in production have generally still got big love for music videos. If they didn’t none would get made, considering the piles of favours that budgets demand are pulled in for each one, the long hours working in unglamorous locations without the luxuries of a commercial shoot. The contrast is quite stark to Rupert. “Doing a music video it’s 18 hours and you’re on the coast and it’s wet and you’ve just got some biscuits,” he laughs. “And you’ve got to carry on.”

People do though. An animator might dedicate two weeks of his life to a track because they love it so much. “That’s something they’re really proud of,” says Rupert. “In a commercial sense that would have been their wages for three years.” That’s what music videos do to people.

The sheer man-hours put into these projects are remarkable. For a three-minute video it could be 20 or 30 people dedicating a day or two of their life, often for little or no pay, to make something creative and exciting. “How much creative time gets spent that doesn’t get recognised,” he wonders. “If we can recognise a little bit of that, that can only be a good thing.”

It’s incredible that anyone would bother until you remember how fun, creative and cool the medium is. “It’s actually great fun,” Rupert insists. “Ask the costume designer at three o’clock in the morning when she’s been standing in the cold in the woods. But cut to that three-minute version two weeks later and you forget all the pain.” That’s why music video still attracts so much talent.

The music video has been on a tumultuous ride since the age when the Gondrys and Romaneks of the world first ran riot, but despite the decline in budgets, many changes have helped the medium. With the relentless march of technology, access to entry has been made easier. The tools you need to make a music video can be cheap, allowing bedroom auteurs to emerge. “Someone with a 5D, a good set of lenses, understands light, with a little playback system,” suggests Rupert. “Suddenly you can get something good. They can have a go at it.”

And that’s another reason the music video genre is so vibrant these days. With video sharing an integral part of online behaviour, three-minute videos about music are ideally poised to spread. Remember, Gangnam Style – the most popular thing on the internet ever – was a music video.

From this perspective, music video has never been riper for an event like the Ibiza Music Video Festival. The passion is there, along with the talent. The festival has no fee to enter work, so even the smallest-time of directors can get their work considered. But, in part due to that, all that’s missing is the money.

This is mirrored in Rupert’s experience. He and his team have been inundated with entries this year from around the world – almost triple last year’s number. And the quality has blown Rupert away. “This is incredible stuff,” he says.

“When I’m looking our budget and our deficit sometimes I think ‘why the hell are we doing this?’” admits Rupert “It’s a challenge but I’m determined to make it work. We’ve come so far. It’s a good idea. But sometimes good ideas don’t pay the bills.”

Rupert’s hope isn’t just to put on a good festival for his own satisfaction. With the right people involved he hopes the Ibiza Music Video Festival can drive the medium forward in all sorts of ways. With awards to support people in their careers, the newest talent will be allowed to flow into the industry with greater ease.

And maybe it’s a vain hope, but Rupert suggests it might even bring more interest and thus more cash into the music video. “Ultimately the music video is undervalued,” he believes. “There are lots out there, but the ones that grab your attention and make you want to watch it again – planning and normally a lot of experience goes into those.”

 

Find out more and buy tickets on the Ibiza Music Video Festival website.