“Big Long Huge Bugle Man”

January 30, 2015 / Humour

By Alex Reeves

After looking at our Google Analytics for the year, we’re finally giving the people what they want.

We pay attention to our Google Analytics because we’re not idiots. We want to know which articles people are most interested in and we endeavour to please our readership. But there’s a limit. Most of the time we make the editorial decision not to write articles just for the hits, but just for this article we’re going to give the twisted Googlers what they want. Here are the weirdest and most disturbing search terms that led people to The Beak Street Bugle in 2014.


“big long huge bugle man”
We Google image searched this term and found ourselves in good company. A good time for anyone who appreciates the beauty of the male form and a harrowing reminder that ‘bugle’ is a common typo for ‘bulge’.



“ginger oferral”
One of our editors Lewis More O’Ferrall will not reveal if he is, or has ever been, a redhead. It’s an intriguing thought though. We made this lifelike mock-up to quench our curiosity.



“alex reeves oil paintings”
Editor / staff writer Alex Reeves has never done an oil painting in his life because he’s an uncultured oik. If he did, it would probably look something like this.



“bak street bygle”
Who amongst us hasn’t found themselves in a grubby alleyway (Brick Lane most likely) at three o’clock in the morning, craving Jewish baked goods. And in that situation, who can still spell complex words like ‘back’ and Yiddish ones like ‘beigel’? We have a lot of empathy for this Googler.



“chubb hairy”
burgundy speedos
chubby bear men
chubby men in leather
daddy bear hairy big man perfect in chainiz
free tight underwear bugles pic
hairy guy from commercial in speedo
hairy guy in speedo commercial
hairy guy on beach
hairy man at beach
hairy man speedo images
hairy man speedo images
hairy man speedo
hairymen beach photo
male chubby on beach)

Be careful Googling these terms. Thanks to this article we are now plagued by them. But we aim to please so here are some of the images you were really after:



“commercial directors are twats”
Well, we've found the headline for our next opinion column...

Thanks to our digital marketing specialist, Anita Jasser of Sofarbeyond. We couldn’t have made these important strategic insights without her.

The Super Bowl Ad Bonanza: Transatlantic Views

January 30, 2015 / Features

By Sanam Petri and Orlando Wood

Two Americans now working in the London ad world open up on the subject of The Big Game commercial madness.

This Sunday night, far too late for the sane majority on our side of the pond, tens of millions will tune in to watch the USA’s biggest, most all-American sporting event. The Super Bowl is a media circus like no other. The slabs of advertising in between the tiny slivers of sporting action have become the arena for the single biggest pitched battle between brands, with companies paying ludicrous amounts to secure 30 seconds of audiences’ attention.

While the UK has recently nurtured its own ad face-off in over the Christmas period, the Super Bowl stands as the single most high-profile event for advertisers in the world. As Brits we’re largely blissfully ignorant of all this hoo-ha, so we turned to a brace of American ad-people in London and asked them to pass judgement on the phenomenon the Super Bowl has become.

Sanam Petri
“Like most advertising, the Super Bowl has become one massively self-aware, self-congratulatory circle jerk.

The seats at the game are filled with clients instead of fans.

The tailgating parties are now cocktail parties, held in sky boxes rather than parking lots.

The spirit of America’s favorite past time is now brought to you by Staples.

So, this year is no different. A handful of lucky brands will be given the chance to spunk $4.5 million for 30 seconds of Super Bowl air time. And what do will they get for the pleasure?

Well, in terms of actual sales, fuck all. (Which I think is usually pronounced “ROI.”) If someone actually did a statistically accurate study about the impact of Super Bowl ads and sales, there would be no direct correlation.

However, the incredible spike in sudden awareness will fool many marketers into thinking their ad was money well spent. Which means it’s easy for agencies to convince their clients that a Super Bowl ad is just what they need. When in fact it’s usually only the agency’s stock that goes up.

It is tempting though, isn’t it? The only moment in American culture where people actually want to watch advertising. So it feels like a great opportunity – an audience that is actually receptive to your message, and will talk about your ad the next day.

But wouldn’t it be a great world if people asked themselves instead, why are we making the kind of advertising no one wants to watch in the first place?

The best work travels, with or without Super Bowl-sized budgets. And the very best work actually solves a problem. How many Super Bowl ads have you seen that solve an actual problem a consumer is having? “What should I watch while shoving Doritos down my gullet” is not a problem.

So why do they keep doing it? Possibly because it’s now become headline news when a big brand isn’t buying airtime, and no one wants the bad publicity.

Or possibly because for ad guys, their brand is like their team. A successful ad is like a touchdown. Which means a Super Bowl ad is like a Super Bowl touchdown. And who wouldn’t want to be the star quarterback of JWT!?

But I suppose if we didn’t make ego-driven decisions, would we all be in advertising in the first place?

Maybe next time, a well-timed email marketing campaign is the way forward.”

Sanam Petri is Creative Director for Nike at Wieden + Kennedy London.


Orlando Wood
“I was a fat little kid growing up in South Florida.

I wasn’t exactly “sporty”. I went swimming in T-shirts to hide my particularly rotund physique. My family were all English and moved to the states when I was five.

My dad was an academic and writer, so not the type to chuck a ball around with me. His sport of choice was cricket. I know the rules to cricket. I did NOT know the rules to football.

So, growing up in the states at a physical disadvantage and at an additional disadvantage borne out of ignorance, football represented nothing more than an opportunity for epic humiliation among my classmates.

Super Bowl Sunday was also often dangerously close to my birthday, so mass refusals to my party were often a matter of course.

But in America, you simply couldn’t avoid it. So, I watched it.

And this little fatty LOVED the ads! Thanked GOD for the ads!

The ads gave me something to talk about, some way to enter into discussion in-between the ball moving from one end of the field to the other. Possession changing from the blue-and-white team to the green-and-blue dudes. And, more importantly, other people cared about them as well.

Yes, Super Bowl Sunday is frivolous. To imbue it with undue meaning is pointless. We’re watching a game. A good game. A game that’s taken two teams a season to get to and a game that a nation cares about. Do ads during this time really have to do much more than get eyeballs on them and try to excite, interest, and fire the synapses behind those eyeballs? I don’t think so.

The rest of the year, our work interrupts other people’s enjoyment and asks them to change their buying habits when they next open up Amazon or leave their house. On Super Bowl Sunday, our work elevates to the level of entertainment. Clients are suddenly audacious on Super Bowl Sunday. They bother to think of the consumer first. Not the consumer of their product, mind you, but the consumer of that single 30-60” ad.

How often do clients forget to actually entertain those who accidentally watch our work? Less often than they think they do, I suspect. The majority of client’s jobs are to try to avoid offending the broadest group of people rather than highly entertaining them. They often shy away from a risqué joke because it may, actually, be funny? It’s our perennial struggle with them, but for the Super Bowl, we’re all on the same side.

Super Bowl Sunday raises the stakes. And you know what? Even when an ad is a little ‘off’, I’m still just impressed that they tried.

I get bummed out when ad people’s cynicism gets the better of them and they end up shirking the largest, most bombastic example of what we do. It’s a game, and during that game, people like our ads.

Good for them.

Good for us.

For one day, we become closer to entertainers than we ever usually are. People look forward to an ad break… Don’t I wish that happened more?!?

I’ve had one ad in the Super Bowl. It wasn’t terribly well received. But you best believe I want another crack at it.

To use a brilliant American turn of phrase from an even more brilliant American movie…

‘Bring it on!’

Go Seahawks!”

Orlando Wood is Executive Producer of Biscuit UK.

NB: Orlando now knows the rules of football. Special thanks to MADDEN NFL: 2005-2014.


Here are his top five Super Bowl ads of all time:

Signed: Nysu

January 29, 2015 / Signed/Unsigned

By The Beak Street Bugle

Another mysterious directing collective enter the fray.

Somesuch's recent signing Nysu are a Madrid-based Spanish creative collective led by director Jesus Hernandez. Their work and unique style is highly influenced by the surrealist masters and a left-field sense of humour.

Notably, the collective’s promo “Todo el Tiempo” for Spanish band Glez was screened at the Mediterranean Biennale of Thessaloniki whilst their video for Wild Beasts’ “Wanderlust” was incredibly well received with over a million views. More recently they created a 40-minute short film for the band Archive that was exhibited at Sundance London and they have received critical acclaim for their promo for Philip Selway’s track “Coming up for Air”.   

The multifaceted collective continue to experiment with other artistic disciplines and begin to move into the more narrative driven world of cinema.

Watch some of their work here:

TV Advertising Wrapped in Mystery

January 23, 2015 / Features

By Jacqueline Holmes

Advertisers 60 years ago were really thinking outside the box.

Mixed emotions of anticipation, wonder, nerves, excitement and challenge were washing through the advertising world this time 60 years ago. The agencies and brands were gearing up for the advent of commercial TV in this country which would take to the air later in the year. The event would have a major impact on the established industry.

Poster advertisers were already declaring they were here to stay and facing the competition head on with the promotion of Teleposters. In January of 1955 they told the trade: “Advertising on TV [is] still wrapped in mystery, but advertising next to TV is here – and here to stay!”

Teleposters were the new thing – printed panels measuring 10in by 8in to be placed around TV sets.
“The public aren’t (sic) waiting for commercial TV with bated breath. They’re looking at it now, and wise advertisers are going to make use of their steady gaze” claimed an advertisement in the trade press for Teleposters.

It was envisaged that viewing habits would be changing and televisions would appear in bars and clubs, canteens and waiting lounges. This view did not foresee the television set becoming a part of everyday domestic furniture, watched by millions daily in their homes and that it would take decades to become a regular feature of public venues.

Chloe Veale, director of the History of Advertising Trust (HAT) said:
“The idea of Teleposters very much reflected the innocent, probably naïve, period before TV commercials became part of the domestic scene. They missed the point that the advertising would be on the screen, not around it! It is somewhat bizarre that community screens are now so commonplace in public spaces.”

The main agencies and the big companies faced up to the new medium, preparing for the arrival of commercial TV and its attendant problems and challenges. After all, filmed commercials had only been seen in this country in cinemas, a totally different environment to the cosy family living room and attracting a different demographic of viewer.

Meanwhile the British Transport Commission upped its campaigns to attract advertisers to its poster sites on the Underground and buses. The ‘advantages’ of poster advertising were further professed by the British Poster Advertising Authority. It took out a page in Advertiser’s Weekly in January 1955 advising clients to: “Put the case” (in newspaper or on TV) and “Drive it home”. The tag line was “Posters complete the campaign with repetition in colour”. It has to be remembered that colour would not replace black & white on ITV until 1969. During the1950s, poster advertising was an integral part of the street scene. Corners devastated by the Blitz had become poster oases screening the dereliction from view with colourful hoardings.

Packaging was another area of production recognition causing problems for the modern advertiser moving to TV.  Product packaging was designed to be colourful and catch the eye of the shopper. Now well-known brands would be seen in black and white – some of the bright colours translating on film to murky grey.

The ads that appeared in the January 1955 edition of Advertiser’s Weekly, two of which are illustrated here, reveal extraordinary responses to the the changes and challenges that the established advertising industry faced 60 years ago as the nation prepared for the arrival of commercial television. These ones were discovered tucked away within an original edition of this now very rare journal preserved on HAT’s library shelves.

Through HAT’s unique advertising archive collections the full story of the development and impact of the new advertising medium can be tracked, pieced together and told in this special 60th anniversary year. With over 100,000 TV commercials dating from 1955 to 2015 complemented by original documents, ad agency records, contemporary data and publications, the contents of HAT Archive are a national treasure trove.

For further information see www.hatads.org.uk

The Virtual Reality Gold Rush

January 19, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Framestore and UNIT9’s VR experts on how brands can secure a future in VR advertising.

In the 1930s science fiction writer Stanley G. Weinbaum dreamt up the possibility of “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” – a set of goggles that put the wearer inside a fictional reality with all five senses. This is the first time anyone had considered the possibility of virtual reality. Since then it’s enchanted us in our future ponderings, from the Star Trek holodeck to the Cyberspace of William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

But VR remained in the domain of science fiction for almost 80 years. That is until the Oculus Rift slammed into the tech scene in 2012. Crowdfunded to the tune of $2.4million by almost 10,000 geeks around the world, the Oculus Rift Development Kit 1 marked the moment when the new medium jolted to life. 

A headset that immerses its wearer in a 3D virtual world, it's clear to anyone who’s tried it on that this technology will have a profound effect on visual media. We may even be witnessing the dawn of a new medium, some believe.

Since the famous crowdfunding campaign Facebook has acquired Oculus Rift for $2billion and all the big tech companies have been brewing up their own consumer headsets to put on the market. With various releases promised, 2015 looks to be the year normal people, not just tech geeks, start owning VR headsets.

Of course the advertising industry has been watching this new field closely and many of the techier companies have been experimenting with every new bit of hardware and software they can. Post production and VFX giants Framestore and future-facing production company UNIT9 are two such entities, and have even been bold enough to each launch dedicated VR departments.

“It’s a no-brainer,” says Karl Woolley, of Framestore Digital, VR & Immersive Content Studio. “As soon as someone hacks the Kinect you get one. As soon as Lead Motion comes out you get one. You play with it.”

It’s the responsibility of companies like Framestore to get to know the tech because so many brands are now coming to them to jump on the VR bandwagon. And it’s still pretty fair to call it that. “They’ve jumped on this like nothing else,” says Karl. “I think there are some brands that it naturally fits with and some you have to work harder to have an experience that works.”

Henry Cowling, Head of UNIT9 VR, agrees that the medium’s still a got a whiff of gimmickry about it. “At the moment a lot of interest from brands [comes from a desire] to do the first, the biggest or the best work in this space,” he says. Although it’s understandable, this attitude is disappointing to people like him and Karl, who believe VR is destined for much more. “It’s this kind of Wild West territory where you can go in and make big claims and do defining projects,” says Henry. Karl calls it a “gold rush.”

And it seems there really will be gold once brands find the right use for VR. “It’s going to be big enough, rich enough and varied enough that it’s going to stand up in its own right,” predicts Henry. “We’ll be reaching a time very soon where brands aren’t just doing VR for VR’s sake. Right now the killer application of VR is up for grabs. There’s some really good work but the genre defining thing that’s going to set the bar hasn’t been done yet.”

Production Company: Framestore
Creative Director: Mike Woods
Senior Producer: Christine Cattano
Lead Developer: Michael Cable
Production Co-ordinator: Meg Diamond
Software Developer: Nick Fox-Gieg
Open Frameworks Development: Ryan Wilkinson
CG Supervisor: Ben Fox and Andy Rowan-Robinson
Technical Director: John Montefusco, Minchung Cho and Nate Diehl
Modelling: Michi Inoue
Matte Painting: Callum McKeveny
Production Runner: Kent Rausch
Sound Design: Nick Fox-Gieg

That’s no great surprise. Most VR departments have only existed for a year or so. And it’ll take some time to create the structures that will build this new medium. Companies need to assemble teams to help them reach that post-gimmickry golden age. And recruiting isn’t straightforward. You can’t go out and find a VR Game Developer with substantial experience because nobody does that job yet.

Telling a story in VR takes a new blend of skills. “It’s taking filmmaking’s lights, camera and sound,” explains Karl, “but combining it with storytelling in the way that game designers have been doing it for 20 or 30 years.” For example, you can’t frame up a shot in an all-encompassing environment, so no close-ups to draw the audience’s attention. In VR you must use the visual and audio cues of game design to guide audiences.

Clearly, the medium is still in its infancy and Karl and Henry would be the first to agree there’s a long way to go. With the major headsets yet to hit the consumer market, let alone at an affordable price, it isn’t exactly far reaching.

“The market’s quite tiny,” says Karl. From a brand perspective, where their primary interest is numbers of eyeballs, its appeal is limited. “At the moment they’re getting the eyeballs because of the press around this work that we’re doing.” For now, it’s confined to installations with powerful computers and 4D experiences. In the future, this is likely to change.


Production Company: UNIT9 VR
Agency: BBDO Düsseldorf
Director: Robert Bader
Executive Producer: Ben Young
Project Manager: Pierre Trochu
Local Producer: Stefan Bader
Local Events Producer: Nicolas Jenkin Mönch
Technical Director: Yates Buckley
Tech Lead: Laurentiu Fenes, Kamil Cholewinski, Dimitris Doukas, Silvio Paganini
Lead VR Developer: Dmytry Lavrov
VR Developer: David Li, Karol Sobiesiak
Hardware Engineer: Mateusz Marchwicki, Christian Bianchini
Interactive Developer: Andre Venancio, Joao Sousa
Lead Back End Developer: Kamil Cholewinski
Back End Developer: Piotr Zalewski
Mobile Front End Developer: Krzysztof Lipiec
Sound Engineer: Axel Wagner
VR Design: Gabor Ekes, Sophie Langohr, Markos Kay, Sean Hobman, Julien Simshäuser
VFX: Tom Waterhouse, Realisestudio, EightVFX Studio
UI Design: Jarrod Castaing, Steven Mengin, Karol Goreczny
Design: Steve McGeorge
UX: Laura Cortes, Dirk van Ginkel
Editor: Samuel De Ceccatty, Jakub Wesolowski
Quality Assurance: Peter Law
Stunt Coordinator: Marc Cass
Stunt Rigger: Simon Whyman, Gary Arthurs, Daryl Andrews
Art Director - Construction/Container branding: Owen Gundry
Construction Lead (Illusion Design & Construct LTD): Rory Evans
Spark: George Baker
Helmet design (Artem): Andrew Freeman
Design Supervisor (Artem): Colin Foster
Production Assistant: Martha Ross
Location Scout: Martin Zillger
Runner: Lorenzo Vivoli
Product Design Intern: Yifei Chai, Felix Yarwood

“The best case scenario is that we have a big market penetration of [VR] and consumers are using this stuff,” says Henry. “And developers and makers in general have their hands on it and are able to tinker with the software.” He thinks that ultimately the most exciting developments are likely to come from bedroom enthusiasts. “We’re at the forefront of it right now, but still the most interesting stuff is going to happen when it’s out there in the hands of the masses. There are going to be applications that we can’t even conceive right now.”

The role brands will play in VR breaking through will be secondary to this, as Henry sees it. “I think what brands are particularly adept at doing, when they behave boldly, is taking stuff that’s culturally relevant, looking at indie examples and saying ‘how do we bring our money and resources to this? How do we make this better and amplify it?’”

To get there, people who know VR will first have to educate brands and agencies. And that’s exactly what Framestore and UNIT9 are doing.

“It’s getting this stuff in the hands of creatives and brands,” says Henry, “so that they can figure it out and the limitations are apparent.” Once people know the borders they can work within them. But the only practical way is to get headsets on people and demonstrate the technology. “Showing people a case study video of VR always looks and feels flat. The experience is so much more dynamic when you’re in it.”

For brands who want to be the first to nail VR content, there are a few points they should be aware of. For now, the central limitation is the disconnect between what you see and what you feel. “The paradox of VR,” says Henry, “is that you put a headset on and then you’re in an environment [where] everything looks real, so you expect to be able to interact with it in a real way.” As of yet, you usually can’t.

When Henry showed the Occulus Rift to his mother she immediately got up and started walking around. Of course, she stayed still in the virtual environment and was confused. He had to hand her a joystick to move around. This is awkward, and in many situations VR creatives have to work around worse - some experiences can cause terrible motion sickness.

Production Company: Framestore:
Agency: Relevent
Executive Creative Director: Mike Woods
Creative Director: David Mellor
Senior Producer: Christine Cattano (VR), Leah Garner (VFX)
Production Co-ordinator: Meg Diamond
Lead Developer: Michael Cable
VFX Supervisor: Mike Bain and Ben Fox
Compositing Lead: Matt Pascuzzi
Developer: Nick Fox-Gieg
2D: Euna Kho
3D:Patrick Ross, Michi Inoue, Oscar Tan, Xiaolai Zheng, Yun Chen, Jack Caron, Joseph Szokoli and Ryan Chong.

The natural tensions in VR mostly come down to the question of how to interact with a virtual experience in a more physical way. But there are answers to this.

Firstly, you can limit VR to a purely passive, visual experience. Henry admits that while 4D experiences with vibrating floors, controlled temperatures and the like are great, “even if you strip all that stuff away, the core experience of just having a headset on and being in a place is such a powerful way to do storytelling. Even if you’re not moving around in that environment – it’s just a story unfolding around you – it already really excites me and everything else is just gravy.”

Karl cites Felix & Paul Studios’ work on the introduction experience packaged with Samsung’s Gear VR, where you simply sit in a Mongolian yurt. “In some ways it’s much better than any of the other work we’ve done, because it’s believable.”

On paper this may sound dull, he admits, but he’s confident that if clients could experience it with the headset on they’d understand. Again, it’s just getting headsets on heads.

Another tack clients could take is the exhilarating stuff – driving fast cars, running through futuristic environments, flying through the sky. Those are harder because of the physical aspect requiring additional technology. It’s all about delivering ‘haptic feedback’ – some kind of physical experience to compliment the visual.

There are many ways to approach this. Moving floors, mist, smells pumped in an temperature control can be used to great effect, as both companies’ work has proved. “The thing is to try and make [sure] that anything your brain thinks you’re doing, your body feels it’s doing as well,” says Karl.

Production Company: UNIT9 VR
Agency: DigitasLBi
Producer: Richard Rowe
Tech Lead: Maciej Zasada
Project Manager: Josselin Milon, Tomasz Skalski
Game Developer: Pawel Miniszewski
Unity Developer: Adam Lesniak, Lukasz Karasowski, Andrew Oaten
3D Development - Concept Design: Gadget Bot
3D Development - City Design: Triada Studio
3D Development - Art Director: Robert Simons, Peggy Chung
3D Development – Producer: Ara Aghamyan
Art Director/Designer: Hasmik Mkhchyan,  Artashes Stamboltsyan
3D Modeling and Texturing: David Andreasyan, Shavo Kandalyan
Animation: Riccardo Giuggioli
Character Modeling: Sophie Langohr, Karol Goreczny
3D Optimisation: Kate Lynham
Storyboards & Set Visualization: Henry Christian-Slane
UI Design: Melanie Hubert
Motion Design: Jakub Wesolowski, Maxime Bigot
Support Frames: Artem: Ken White, Simon Taylor
WizDish Locomotion Platform: Julian Williams, Charles King
Sound Design & Music: Box Of Toys Audio

Depending on budget and the technology available, all of these can be very effective because the sense of presence they provide is unparalleled by any other medium.

To achieve the immersion clients want, every sense can be simulated with the right tech, and arguably the most vital sense, after vision, is sound. “Because what you’re seeing looks real, you expect other stuff to be real,” says Henry. “If the sound is not behaving in a real way you get a disconnection that just deflates the experience.”

The final tip for making VR work is a golden rule – make it larger than life.  “If you can do it for real, whatever you’re doing in VR’s got to be a step beyond,” says Karl, “Otherwise what’s the point?” Nobody wants to create an experience of test-driving a car when for the same budget you could do it for real.

In 2015 we’re likely to get much more familiar with VR, and maybe it will stop being a tech gimmick. When it does, Henry and Karl agree that it will be down to storytelling. “How it performs as a storytelling medium defines whether it’s going to live or die,” says Henry. And if VR suddenly jolts to life in the next few years, companies like Framestore and UNIT9 will be part of it.

Under the Influence: Ben Campbell

January 15, 2015 / Features

By Ben Campbell

Cut+Run Editor Ben Campbell takes a hard look at the things that creatively shaped him.

When you really look at where you've got to today, professionally and personally, and start to muse on how it happened, there are some things that begin to stand out. Little patterns that now make it fairly obvious why you do what you do.

I've been working my way to being an editor since I was 22, but before that I had no real concept of what the job could be. It certainly was not an option our careers advisor gave us at school.

Heather Campbell

My great great great aunt was painted by Sergeant. Her niece E.A.S. Agnew was a painter and my mum followed in her footsteps. She is an artist and is full to bursting with energy and love for everything she does.

She would pick us up from little school in Wales on stormy days in her Talbot Mantra Rancho and drive us to the coast, where she would park as close to the sea as possible so the waves would crash over my brothers and me in our little Aluminium box. North Wales is full of interesting characterful places; private model villages, lighthouses, all-night singalongs at The Black Lion, and the magical Portmeirion.

I remember a school trip to London aged 13 and a visit to see the Hokusai exhibition. Our teachers thought the it was all about his idiosyncratic Japanese landscapes and waves. They forgot that he was also responsible for many hardcore pornographic images; man and woman, woman and woman, woman and octopus. "Holy f**k" I can still hear Mr Hartley say, wide eyed! We fell about laughing. See Tampopo where Hokusai's sexual imagery must have had an influence on Itame's great film.

My mum was majorly into Bonnard, Hockney and Paul Klee and was also instrumental in introducing me to the great masters. I always loved the drama of Caravaggio's painted scenes with their rich colours and dramatic framing, Turner with his incredible use of light, and Francis Bacon's beautifully discordant portraits, and Ralph Steadman's wicked, staccato drawings.

As an editor it is crucial to understand good framing, light and colour, essentially what makes a frame work in context. Although the great artists can give you a lot of guidance, it was really my mum's strong tutorship from very early on that tuned my eye in this respect.

The Drums

My brothers and I boarded at a small school in North Wales so we were tied to the various activities they laid on for us; Tennis, Ping Pong, Judo, Rugby, dry slope skiing, choral singing and perhaps more significantly, the drums, taught by the eccentric Maddigan and Mr Davies!

One of the obvious things that unite us editors is music and more specifically an unusually high percentage of us seem to be drummers. Maybe it's because we are drawn to the control this gives us. I loved listening to the greats: John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Keith Moon and Buddy Rich. Editing is all about control - the control and manipulation of your footage and sound. The drums give us a good grounding in musicality, which is essential when editing. We are constantly cutting up bits of tracks from Mozart to Lil Wayne.

Rhythm is essential too. But it's not just about beats and rhythmic cutting. It can be more about the rhythm of the way people and things interact. There is always a rhythm in conversations and language in general, see Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives, Kramer Vs Kramer and In The Loop. The rhythm helps us comprehend. Make a shot the wrong length for an action and you can disrupt the viewer's ability to comprehend. The sound designer and film editor Walter Murch explains how humans understand things in the excellent In the Blink of an Eye where he writes about blinking as a way for us to process information.

Prince Rogers Nelson

The music I listened to growing up has been very important in my development. Thanks to my cousin Hugo's influence, I went to see Prince and the Revolution at Main Road in Manchester aged 13.

Prince Rogers Nelson is the best pop musician of all time. He diversified into the film world too with Purple Rain and the bizarre Under the Cherry Moon but it was his truly individual musical style that I love. On Dirty Mind Prince played all the instruments (bar a few riffs from Dr Fink), wrote and produced himself in his own studio. My brothers and I had all his albums from For You to Diamonds & Pearls and could sing all the words. I think knowing that he had so much control over his craft made me think that it was possible at all.

Music producer is one of the few comparable jobs to an editor and I am always fascinated by the producer's role in the music making process. Prince was my first experience of this.

I was lucky enough to have had an eclectic musical upbringing. Our music teachers would one day have us writing elementary madrigals and discordant classical modern and the next bashing out rhythms on one, two or three drum kits. Our choir master, Rhiannon Davies had tiny hands and banged away at her grand piano barely able to stretch one octave. She taught us discipline, musical structure and the importance of listening.

Music and sound design have a huge impact on the picture and can break or elevate it, see the brilliant Berberian Sound Studio. There are some tracks I am desperate to lay to picture. When you hear it it just screams to be juxtaposed to something! I am currently loving listening to the rhythmic developments of Brandt Brauer Frick. A good musical education whether that's from the street or the classroom cannot be overrated.


When I walk out of a great movie, I feel like the stars have realigned, like a reset button. Chronologically I would have to cite: My seventh birthday party at Threatre Clwyd's tiny cinema watching The Dark Chrystal. The spooky images of Oz and Henson's creatures have stayed with me.

I also saw An American Werewolf in London at a friend's house aged 10, some of us were younger. A brilliant and disturbing mix of comedy and horror with the awesome metamorphosis happening to Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clearwater Revival. We had to walk home across the bay in Anglesey but someone got scared and ran, leaving my little brother stuck in the boggy stream. The sounds of his screams still haunt me to this day.

But it was Lawrence of Arabia that had a huge effect on me. I love Lawrence's refusal to toe the line, and his staunch loyalty to his "native" friends. David Lean is the best, and, of course, an ex-editor. He started his work life at Gaumont as a tea boy (didn't we all?!) and moved on to cutting news reels and then movies before he began co-directing with Noel Coward. I love the epic scale of A Passage to India and Dr Zhivago full of intense passion and disaster. Melodrama, music and drama!

The Church Mice

To me, it is the earliest influences that have had the most obvious and dramatic effect on me professionally. There's honesty in the way you react to things as a child and I try to remember this in my professional life by relying on gut instinct where possible. My favourite children's book was The Church Mice by Graham Oakley. There is always the main plot line happening in the foreground: The main protagonists are kidnapped by some scientists to be sent to the Moon in a spaceship, but for me the real enjoyment came in the background of some of the larger illustrations; some mice were flirting, mini mice played tricks on each other, some were doing headstands, playing chess etc. I think this has had a lot of influence on my childish sense of humour, it taught me that it was ok to be silly.

I was drumming in a Hip Hop band when I was at Goldsmiths and the rappers would occasionally end up back at our Camberwell house. I remember them reading these books then laughing out loud, "I'm feelin' it man, I'm feelin' it!" This reveals the serious attention to detail needed to really grab hold of your imagination effectively. As an editor, you want the viewer to feel it but not necessarily notice it. The same level of detail is required in filmmaking and editing.

More recently I loved Desert Queen by Janet Wallach based on the letters of Gertrude Bell. I love her sacrifice and strength of character against the odds. I can not cite this as an editing influence but more an attitude to life and work: Where there's a will, there's a way.


Have a look for these influences on Ben's reel.