Shanghai’s Best Advertising Event is Near

October 7, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Eight years on from the APA’s first Shanghai London Advertising Forum, why are APA members are going back for more?

On October 20th and 21st influential figures from the UK advertising production community will converge in the world’s largest city for the Shanghai London Advertising Forum 2015. They will be joining the top Chinese advertising agencies and production companies to learn about each other, to learn about opportunities and challenges ahead of them and to find ways of working together that will benefit both them and the agencies’ clients.

The event is organised by the Advertising Producers Association, and is the latest in a series of visits to overseas attended by the trade body’s members. The first SLAF took place in 2007, with over 30 delegates from London’s production community visiting Shanghai to meet with China’s leading advertising agencies. This was followed up two years later with the Beijing London Advertising Forum.

The APA has been organising overseas events for its members for over ten years now, inspired by the interest its membership takes in exploring foreign markets. APA Chief Executive Steve Davies explains this interest as twofold: “First, the ultra competitive London market means there aren’t enough good scripts to go around. Secondly, good scripts and good work is originating from many countries that did not do so previously.”

While it may seem odd for competitors to attend such events together, it’s the best way for these companies to learn and build future business abroad. Steve explains that while APA members are “successful, entrepreneurial and admired around the world for the quality of their work,” they also run on tight business models, keeping their base as small as possible to manage through the peaks and troughs of project-based income. This means they struggle to explore new markets they are interested in alone. They often lack the budget, time or manpower to justify organising such an expedition.

Steve explains how the APA picks up the slack here: “A week long event, with the opportunity to meet and hear from every important agency in a new market, with everything set up for them and the only demand on them being a week out of the office, provides them with an opportunity to connect with new markets they are interested in.”

“It seemed to be a no-brainer,” says Tim Katz, Managing Partner of Knucklehead, speaking about the 2007 Shanghai forum. “To have access to an organised sales trip into an almost un-explored territory that had a growing economy and a booming advertising sector. What did we have to lose?” Knucklehead have since done significant work for the Chinese market and will be attending again this year.

The critical mass of delegates on such a trip is also a substantial advantage. With an array of some of the most successful APA members coming together in one delegation, the attraction for Chinese agencies was bigger. Managing Director of RSA Asia John Payne, who was in the process of setting up their new Asia office at the time of SLAF 2007, remembers the clout that the 33-strong group commanded. “It was a natural progression to building on those early meetings with the presence of other APA members,” he says, “as it would add weight to our collective and genuine interest of wanting to do business with Chinese agencies and their clients.”

It’s glaringly obvious now why British production companies would be interested in the Chinese market. As Steve points out, “we used to provide all the stats but that isn’t necessary now.” It is the second largest advertising market in the world, it has grown by 16.6% per year on average for the last five years and spending on advertising is circa US$80 billion per year.

The extent of this rapid growth is tangible to anyone who visits the world’s most populous country. Tim remembers one moment during the 2007 event that crystallised this idea. “I was standing in the bar of the Grand Hyatt hotel, a gazillion floors up, watching a 24-hour construction crew working on the skyscraper opposite. They were adding a floor a week. It seemed to sum up the economic explosion that was happening in China, and made being there feel very much like the right place to be at the time.”

Daniel Bergmann, Managing Partner of Stink, visited Shanghai with the APA in 2007. Stink have several offices around the world, including one in Shanghai, which they had launched around that time. “I decided to open in China and Brazil as part of a growth strategy for Stink. The basic reasons are few and quite obvious,” he lists them: “Firstly, more business opportunities – China is a huge and interesting market. Secondly, cultural and creative inspiration. Finally, coming to a growing market early on is incredible as we are part of a new era.”

The Chinese ad industry is not only a huge attraction to UK companies. The relationship is reciprocated, as the warm welcome the APA members received in both Shanghai in 2007 and Beijing in 2009 attests to. “Agencies in China are keen to engage with UK production,” stresses Steve, “and ambitious to increase their knowledge of which production companies have a real ability to deliver the very good quality of work they want for their clients.”

“You can see the objectives and results of both events from the reports,” says Steve. “Some of the ECDs we’ll be seeing this time – who remain as enthusiastic as ever to be able to access UK production expertise – remember our 2007 event as the best advertising event that has taken place in Shanghai.”

The advisory board for this year’s event is comprised of well-regarded British and Chinese business leaders alike:

Andy Chan – ECD FCB, Shanghai
Andy Orrick – Chief of Stuff, Rattling Stick London
Daniel Bergmann – Founder, Stink Shanghai and London
Graham Fink – Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy Shanghai
Jimmy Lam – Vice Chairman and CCO, DDB China
Johnny Tan – Chief Creative Officer, BBH Shanghai
Judy Hill – Executive Producer, Nexus London
Kevin Lee – ECD Leagas Delaney, Shanghai
Kitty Lun – Chairman and CEO, Lowe and Partners China
Michael McDermott – Executive Producer, Gung-Ho Films
Nils Andersson – President and Chief Creative Officer Greater China, TBWA\Shanghai Norman Tan – North Asia Chief Creative Officer, China Chairman, JWT
Sheena Jeng – Chair and Chief Creative Officer, Publicis China
Steve Davies – Chief Executive, APA (Chairman)
Tim Katz – Managing Partner, Knucklehead London
Yang Yeo – Executive Creative Director, W+K Shanghai

Their commitment to supporting SLAF 2015 shows that advertising professionals on both sides of the world are enthusiastic about building and maintaining these global business relationships.

It’s no surprise that the Chinese market is interested in accessing British talent. “As ever, the quality of the talent we can offer is the big draw,” says Tim. “Be it directors, production, technicians, VFX, music and sound, Chinese agencies acknowledge that we can add value to their productions and deliver great films.” Daniel notes that in his experience, overseas markets particularly respect the UK production industry its focus on quality and its dedication to nurturing talent.

The numbers back this feeling up. Delegates from the UK who took part in the 2007 forum generated £30 million in production turnover in the 15 months that followed the event.

It worked in 2007, but why go back? The answer is simple, according to Steve. “UK production companies and Chinese agencies have developed a lot of work. There are some obstacles though,” he says. “and it is good to explore these together as the potential quantity of work in China is huge and growing. Eight years is a long time in advertising, particularly in China, so it will be interesting to see those changes and learn from them and adjust our offering to Chinese agencies based on that learning.”


The Shanghai London Advertising Forum will be taking place at the Sigma Film Club, Shanghai on the 20th-21st October 2015. 

Entry to the event is free to Chinese agencies, production companies and advertisers – simply email to register.


What Makes Colourists So Special?

September 29, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Do these strange inhabitants of dark grading suites deserve our adoration?

Of all the bewildering job titles in advertising and film production, the colourist is the most curious. On the face of it, their job is fairly straightforward – to make the colours on a film look the best they can. The tricky part is how they do it.

It has been said that they are the stars of post production, cherished by their companies and jealously coveted by competitors. According to Televisual’s 2014 Salary Survey, they earn an average of £78,500 a year, more than the average managing director earns, and the top ones take home considerably more than that average. But where does this veneration come from and do they really deserve it? We spoke to four of the most celebrated colourists in London about why they think people treat them like some kind of sorcerers.

They know what people think of them and the way they are treated by their companies. “You hear it in pubs,” says George K of MPC. “We’re treated like superstars. Some think we’re overrated. Maybe we are.” His colleague at MPC, Jean-Clement Soret agrees. “The colourist is now the big magician. The guy who reveals the image in its full glory.” But it’s hard for them to know what people really think. “You get told lots of things when you’re working in any company,” says Seamus O’Kane of The Mill. “They’re dependent on people performing well and feeling happy, so you do sometimes feel like you’re being overtly cossetted and buttered up.”

The most striking thing about the role is the air of mystery a mention of colour grading evokes. “It’s always been seen as a slightly black art,” says Paul Harrison of Finish. “I think it’s a bit impenetrable.” This must be due in some part to the environment colourists work in. Their suites are their own personal bat caves – dark, expensively decorated sanctuaries, custom built to suit their needs and those of their clients; the sharpest of screens at one end of the room, the softest of sofas at the other. And in between, endless buttons, knobs, sliders and gadgets, incomprehensible to mere mortals.

George remembers his curiosity for all this since before he started grading. He used to walk past the dark suites, peer in and wonder what was going on in there. “It was kind of magical,” he remembers. Now he knows those secrets, but admits it’s hard to explain, “my mum and dad still don’t know what I do. I guess if you haven’t got the technical knowhow it’s difficult to explain what you actually do.”

Seamus still doesn’t fully understand what makes good colour grading, despite being repeatedly counted among the top handful of UK colourists. “It does almost seem like sorcery,” he says. “At the end everyone’s happy, but no one actually knows why.”

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” wrote sci-fi legend Arthur C. Clarke, famously, and magical analogies are understandable when you consider the powerful devices and software colourists work with.

It’s not only technology that creates that magic though. Graders are much more than technicians working the buttons on a big machine. They’re artists helping to make moving images more powerful. It’s a woolly process, full of vagaries and gut feelings, as Seamus admits. “Colour is an intangible, very unquantifiable thing. You can have all the mood boards in the world, all the expectations of how it’s going to be, but somehow it just looks right.”

Advertising, indeed all film, wants much more than a realistic representation of colour. Colourists’ talents lie in manipulating the hues, lightness, saturations and contrasts to create the most evocative images possible, building layers of nuance and emotion on the raw footage. “It’s about creating atmosphere and mood,” says Paul. “It’s there most of the time. We just have to bring it out.”

On top of this there’s the challenge, particularly relevant to those colourists working in advertising, of dealing with a suite full of people with different opinions. Sometimes a grading suite can contain a director, a DOP, creatives, creative directors, and even clients. There’s something about too many cooks to be said in that situation.

It’s a particular kind of person that can sit in the middle of seven people criticising your work, but it’s important to remember who’s boss. Humility is a must, no matter how revered a colourist may be. Seamus is philosophical about it. “If you’re too fragile it’s not going to go well. You’ve got to take it and make something else and ultimately convince them that what you’ve done is good for them.”

A good colourist must also have to have a talent for diplomacy, as the many voices in the suite often clash. “Sometimes you get real disagreements,” says George. “You’ve got to learn when to pipe up and when not to.” Balancing these opinions, working out where allegiances lie and who has the final say are all key.

That said it’s important to know when to say no politely and convincingly. The sofa dwellers may think they know best, but a good colourist can show them the full potential of an image. Jean-Clement notes that sometimes people say they’re happy with the flat offline footage, straight off the camera. “They got used to the offline and think it is what serves the piece,” he says. “I have to make a call as to whether I should respect their choice or push them somewhere they didn’t imagine they could go.”

On top of all this a colourist must also be a translator. Lay advertising people don’t speak the language of colour, so graders have to work out what they mean. Seamus finds it amusing. “There are generic terms like ‘warm’ and ‘cold’, but you hear things like ‘fizz more red’, ‘a tad’, ‘a natch.’” George gets ‘fluffy’, ‘muddy’ and ‘milky’ a lot. “A lot of them contradict,” he says. “‘I want it soft but contrasty.’ Fortunately, sometimes they bring you references.”

Some of these skills rely on raw talent, or a certain kind of personality. It’s probably true that only a small handful of people have the right combination of attributes to make it work. But it also takes years to become a successful colourist, which is why the top ones are all at least the wrong side of 30, if not much older.

Experience is vital for learning what works. There are so many variables and every grade provides a unique set. There is no easy way to learn, the colourists say. You just have to practice your craft. “When you’ve been doing this for a number of years, any film that is brought to you, you know straight away how it’s going to work,” says Jean-Clement.

Some solutions are to do with the science and psychology of colour (Jean-Clement says that if someone wants something more blue, sometimes adding yellow next to it does the job). Others are subtle tricks of diplomacy, like George knowing when to step into a tense disagreement and when to stay out of it.

Trust is a vital factor. The grade is a kind of choke point in the process of making a commercial. Over its months of gestation, any given ad has had dozens of people working on it. By the time it reaches the colourist all of these creative contributors have a vested interest in how it turns out. The grade can have a huge effect on the final result and yet it rests on the shoulders of one person, often on one day in the suite. “It’s quite a high pressure job,” says Jean-Clement. “It’s very rewarding and interesting and I enjoy it very much, but every day is a big day.” There’s a lot riding on that person, so agencies and directors need to know they can trust their colourist.

Once that working relationship exists with a colourist it’s a powerful force and a valuable resource. It can minimise the many aforementioned challenges of a grade, smoothing them over. George has certain direcotrs that come to his suite, put their feet up and ask for ‘the usual’. “They know that you know best,” he says, “because you know what can or can’t be fixed or whether a certain something can go a certain way.” It’s hard to earn this trust, but it’s also difficult to break.

That’s why grading is such a personal process. The weight of all this rests not on the back of a company’s reputation, but on the relationships a colourist builds and maintains. “People like to have someone to idolise,” says Jean-Clement. “Colourists are an ideal one because it’s pretty much a one-man show. Of course you take everyone’s opinion into consideration but in the end it’s a very personal craft. You can give the same image to five different colourists and get five different results.”

People in advertising enjoy the grade. The culmination of a months-long process for some, it’s nice to sit in a comfortable room and see your vision bloom into its full potential. “For the fist time in [sometimes] a year they’re seeing on screen what they’ve shot is going to look like,” says Seamus. It’s the big reveal, and the colourist is master of ceremonies. “You take all the energy in the room and you’re a conduit,” says Paul.

If done right, the grade can be a good experience for everyone. “Someone once told me it’s like a sanctuary,” says Jean-Clement. A good atmosphere, relaxing and luxurious, thanks to the armies of attentive runners VFX houses employ.

“Every day is a bit like a long-haul flight,” says Seamus. And an expensive one at that. “You’re sitting in a room for 12 hours or so getting very well attended. If you want some coffee or something to eat you pick up the phone and ask. If you think the room’s too hot you make a phone call. So you can act like a rock star every day.”

But colourists aren’t rock stars, and they know it. “You walk out the door and you’re Joe Public,” says Seamus. “If I were sat at home sending my wife for coffee it would not be popular.” He finds it funny that people he knows from the suite don’t recognise him on the street.

George is similarly grounded. “It always brings me down to earth then I go on holiday and no one actually gives a shit what I do for a living. It’s not that important to people.”

People might talk about colourists like Premier League footballers, but their glamour is limited. Ultimately, they’re a bunch of well-paid geeks sitting in dark rooms all day. And they know it. “The secret is not to take it so seriously,” says Seamus. “If you believe you’re fantastic and wonderful, you’re probably not.”

The Mad Experiments of Jim Le Fevre

September 18, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

This Nexus director is exceptionally curious. In both senses of the word.

Jim Le Fevre never grew out of his art foundation course. Many in the creative industries spent a year after their A-levels experimenting in various mediums, finding the most comfortable outlet for their creative energies. Most eventually settle down and pick one though. But Jim liked the experimentation too much. “You’re just playing around and you learn,” he remembers fondly. It’s essentially how he still conducts his business.

Now a director with 15 years at Nexus under his belt, you could say he’s settled into a career in animation and commercials. “I still like doing film stuff,” he says, “but I get obsessed about all this other stuff. I’ve always wanted to be an artist but never had the balls.”

He’s not a normal animator. As his reel makes clear, he’s a fan of unconventional techniques.

Experimentation comes naturally to Jim. Often daunted by the prospect of writing a narrative, he’d rather start by playing with process. “When you’re experimenting in process the action justifies what you’re doing,” he says. “Then you can go back and weave through narratives.”

Another notable aspect of Jim’s work is the curiosity for engineering that comes through. “The thing that really makes me excited is how things are made,” he says. So he looks outside of animation and filmmaking for inspiration.

It’s a good time to have this attitude. “Everything’s really holistic at the moment,” he notes. Engineering, the sciences, technology and the arts are converging more and more, and he celebrates the richness this brings. “They’ve all got things that we can use, and I think art’s got so much more it can use from other places.”

He doesn’t exactly work in a goal-orientated way, preferring to pursue things he finds interesting to see where they take him. “The most exciting thing is realising they’re so worth following down,” he says. “Nobody may ever understand what I wanted to do with some of these things, but the end result is always interesting enough.”

Housed at the Nexus studio, Jim’s experiments have led to some fascinating techniques. Here are some of his creations:

The Phonotrope

Wikipedia lists Jim as the man who coined the term phonotrope. As a father of the technique, he describes it as a descendant of the zoetrope, a kind of animation “using the confluence of revolutions of a record player and the frame-rate of a camera. It doesn’t have to be a record player. I did one on a potter’s wheel and I was recently playing with our salad spinner until my wife told me to stop. Anything that spins really.”

The idea came to him as he was taking part in the Straight 8 film competition, where directors are given a single Super 8 cartridge and have to make a short film without editing. “Everyone tries to out-clever each other and I thought it would be quite good to get some animation into the frame-rate.” It didn’t work, but Jim’s rampant curiosity was piqued enough for him to continue experimenting.

“I didn’t discover it,” he says. “I just uncovered it because we’ve practically been able to do it for years. Three of us kind of independently stumbled on it roughly at the same time.”

As one of the fathers of the technique, Jim has worked on a number of Nexus commercial projects using it and has pitched on a few more that have ended up getting made by other phonotropists. “You can’t copyright a technique,” he concedes. “But I feel responsible for them, even though some of them are really badly done. My ugly bastard children.”

He took to a potter’s wheel for his Craft Council film, which was a little scary. “Pottery’s very different to animation,” he says. “There aren’t as many undos on a pot.” Luckily the pot didn’t explode in the kiln, and the film has now been watched by thousands of people.

It’s also got him involved in other zoetrope-like projects, the most recent being his work on Nexus’ SBTRKT-O-SCOPE for electronic music artist SBTRKT, which used strobe lighting as the electronic equivalent for the slits in a zoetrope, illuminating a rotating sculpture at intervals to make it look animated. “It was a real delight when we got the SBTRKT-O-SCOPE up and running,” he says. “What’s so nice is that it cuts away the rest of the world and you’re entirely locked into this thing.”

In the process of making that Jim continued to experiment. They tried to play around with UV lighting until they realised it brought up certain health risks.

Nexus Stage

The Nexus Stage project is another new medium Jim’s experiments led to. Its job was to prove that game design, Unity, Arduino, projection mapping, mobile technologies and microengineering could all come together to create a new kind of experience. “They’ve all been around and they’re accessible enough to be able to just wire them together and create a lovely thing,” Jim says. The lovely thing they created allowed people to use their mobiles to control a 3D-printed physical installation with projection mapping on it.

This prototype later developed into Futureville – an interactive exhibition at the science museum that incorporated this platform to fit a commercial brief.

It was only through simply playing around with these new technologies that that was able to come about. “To get to that stage we discovered some really clever tools, which we’ve since used on some other jobs”, Jim says, “which we never would have discovered otherwise.”


Deconstructed Videogames

Jim’s been playing a lot of early 2000s Nintendo game The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask recently. And he thinks he’s onto something. He started thinking about the structure of the game and how the player’s progression through it requires certain tasks to be undertaken. “As soon as you’ve done that you can get to this,” he says. “But it’s all dressed up in narrative. “It’s really beautiful and I recently started this. It’s really satisfying.”

Basically, he’s stripped away all the narrative and skill required and drawn maze-like diagrams of the game’s structure, not based on the geography of the game but of the tasks themselves. “Everything is a lock and a key,” he explains. “And that key could be loads of different things. It could be an ability, a fight, a challenge.”

He’s drawn maps for every stage of the game. “I don’t know why but I know there’s something interesting about totally deconstructing a game and creating this ziggurat formation.” He’s looked at other games too and the differences are striking. “Grand Theft Auto’s got a circular, kind of fractal shape to it,” he says.

The aesthetic representation of a level in Majora’s Mask


One idea he has is to build a physical structure of the game, because his diagrams are beautiful in their own right. But he’s also learning to code in Unity, so would be interested to create games himself. If games have different shapes, he’s realised, “you can paint a game by making a structure which is interesting to look at and then you’ve a data hierarchy, which you can work backwards from.”

You could even use these stripped down game shapes to build new games, overlaying new characters, settings, narratives and skills. Jim’s interested in exploring this. “Does it matter that I had to go to the snow world? What if all the snow related abilities and tools and enemies and challenges were toothpaste?”

“I don’t know where that’s going,” he admits. “But I know travelling through I’ll discover some really interesting things on the way.”

The aesthetic representation of a number of choices in Majora’s Mask


Something Between Games and Films

He’s also on the path to answer a question that has plagued the creative industries for the past decade or two: how to make a game that’s as emotionally engaging as a film or a film as immersive as a game. “I think the solution is that it’s not a film that’s a game or a game that’s a film. There’s actually something else.”

“It’s kind of early but I know there’s something in there, like I knew something was in the other stuff,” he says.

He’s creating a short film and a short app experience that share the same story and setting but certain things depend on which you visit first. “It’s actually the difference between the two that’s most important. We’ll see how that works out. I have no idea. It just sounds really cool.”

Nexus is known for its core of ingenuity, and whilst not every production company would support a director exercising such curiosity, Nexus prides itself on nurturing these director characteristics. Jim still directs traditional commercial jobs, but he’s lucky. “I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been here so long, but I feel like I’m allowed to just play around with things,” he says. “Sometimes you don’t get jobs for a while and you can either not earn money not doing anything or not earn money doing something.”

But all these experiments serve a business purpose. What Jim’s learnt in the process can be applied to countless clients’ briefs. “There’s so much that just showing something to an agency that have possibly got the right kind of client can do,” he says, “rather than people trying to drag ideas out of the internet. We have seen this with Nexus Stage leading onto Futureville for the Science Museum as well as being used  in  a 100 metre interactive Printemps window display for Burberry”

It’s important to get the right fit with this process. “I think if you either have no morals or taste you can shoehorn anything,” Jim chuckles, knowingly. But the trick is to hold onto the great ideas until the right client comes along. “When something is good in its own right and is totally justified; when they all fit it’s so nice.”

Jim will keep going with his investigations. “I’m a doer,” he proclaims. “If you have found yourself with an idea and you’re talking about it without having done something you’ve got a choice: Either stop talking about it and do it and never talk about it until you’ve done it; or just ditch that idea and never talk about it again.”

He’s certainly single-minded. “I know I have to continue down these little rabbit warrens,” he says. “and while I’m going down these routes I pick up little discarded gems.” It sounds like he really has been playing too many Nintendo games.

Directions to Direction: Charles Joslain

September 14, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

From wads of cash in the former USSR to a more stable life at Animated Storyboards.

Despite his polite American accent, Charles Joslain insists he is 100 per cent French. Born in Nantes and growing up in Paris, his love for storytelling can be traced back to his upbringing by his mother. He didn’t really know his father and bluntly describes him as “a bit of douchebag” when we sit down for lunch in an unassuming Italian-run café near Hatton Gardens. Caught between the firm conservative morals of his mother and the liberal philosophies of his teachers, he decided to stop listening once he reached adolescence.

Stories were his rebellion against the moralising adults in his life. “A story presents an argument to you and you agree or disagree or fashion your own view,” he says. “As opposed to a lecture. I thought ‘that’s what I want to do.’”

This passion for narrative quickly focused itself into a love of film, which became his main method of escapism as a kid. With his job putting flyers under people’s windscreens and a bit of scrimped lunch money he could afford to buy one VHS per month and could watch one film at the cinema with a student discount per week. He’d make sure he got his money’s worth. “I would definitely sneak in and watch two or three in a row,” he admits.

Charles didn’t know anything about how films were made, but he had a general impression. “I knew there was a guy with the money called the producer and a guy in front of the camera called an actor. I knew there was a guy with a camera and a guy with a microphone of some sort. I thought the guy who organises all this probably has the coolest job.” Unlike most directors, he’d identified his dream job by the age of 12.

Having spent his teenage years learning English from American films (hence his unusual accent), his ambitions hadn’t changed. On 13th September 2001 an 18-year-old Charles boarded a very security-conscious Eurostar to England to begin his film degree at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design in Farnham. Due to a touch of well-intentioned plagiarism, it would take him five years to graduate.

He clashed with his tutors repeatedly, probably because some of them thought he was “an arrogant little shit, which was possibly partly true,” he says. But what he hated most were the endless restrictions defining what filmmaking should be. He rebelled against these and no more so than in his final graduation short film.

The school’s short film guidelines dictated it should be no longer than 15 minutes, with no children or animals, no special effects or make-up, no dialogue in a foreign language and no period dramas. The 20-minute film he turned in, called Edmond, takes place in Paris in the 1960s with a five-year-old girl as the lead character who becomes friends with her mysterious neighbour – a disfigured old man who needed an hour and a half of make-up every day – and has a pet rabbit. “I ticked every single one of the boxes,” he declares, still proud of himself. “And I did that on purpose to piss them off and felt really good about it.” He’s happy with the film for what it is – a student short film.

Despite his disagreements with the educational establishment, his five years studying weren’t wasted. He’d gained skills with equipment and software that would put him in good stead, started lifelong friendships and met a German girl who would have quite an impact on his life.

After graduation, life got serious. Four years into the relationship with his German girlfriend he suddenly became a father. That meant it was time for Charles to uproot himself again and move to Munich, her hometown.

He found a position as an intern at Dedo Weigart Film – the company that created the Dedolight. His German wasn’t great and it was fairly boring work, but at least he was in filmmaking.

In his first week he met someone who would become a huge figure in his life. Hearing the youngster speaking English, someone peered around a corner in curiosity. ‘Hey, you’re new here. What’s your name?’ he asked in a thick Russian accent. Charles told him and stepped into the man’s office. “I gave him my little speech,” he remembers. Abruptly, the Russian told him everything he needed to do if he wanted to make it as a director. “In 20 minutes it was more education than I’d had in five years at Farnham,” he says.

Only 23 at the time, these ideas made a huge impact. The self-assured, seemingly knowledgeable Russian had instantly earned his trust. Charles asked if he could show him some of his short films for feedback. He agreed and told him to bring a DVD at 9:30 the next morning. “At 9:29 I was knocking on his door with a DVD with menus and prints and everything. I made it as slick as I could make it.”

The Russian didn’t speak to him for a month. Charles ran into him a couple of times at work with no mention of the DVD. “Oh my God, he hated it,” the Frenchman thought. “I’m a failure. I’m never going to make it.”

One day the Russian called him back into his office. He never said if Charles’ films were good or bad, just that ‘there’s potential.’ His name was Alexej Berkovic, the Russian agent for Dedo Weigart, but his main gig was running his own production company, Mark II Productions, based in Kazakhstan. He grabbed talent from Western Europe, sent them out to the steppes to take advantage of the low production costs and made himself a nice cut in the process. He told Charles about a client and asked if he was interested in directing a commercial for them under his supervision. ‘You’re on a plane next week. So is that a yes or a no?’ It didn’t take him long to agree.

The next week he found himself in Almaty, Kazakhstan, not far from the Chinese border, directing an ad for a Russian bottled water company. It was a great chance and set him on a road towards a directing career. He picked up a few more jobs through Berkovic and soon ended up shooting his first music video in Los Angeles.

Berkovic quickly had him working for big production companies and agencies, shooting commercials for markets fro Azerbaijan to Turkey, Dubai, Russia and Kazakhstan.

There are certain stereotypes about working in the former Soviet Union. Images of suitcases full of cash and less-than-wholesome businesspeople come to mind. Fortunately Charles didn’t see any of that. “I’m sure there’s some truth to it,” he admits, “but what I got to experience were professional, extremely competent technicians. The one thing I would say wasn’t the most thrilling was the tone of the adverts. It’s a little too in your face for a western audience. But [the clients] were very happy with the work and I got to shoot a lot.”

After over a year out in the east, language barriers, cultural differences and geography were taking their toll. Charles moved back to London with some decent Russian ads on his reel and started touting his wares. This was 2009 – arguably the deepest pit of the recession for the ad industry - and so not the easiest time to be looking for work as an unknown director.

Unable to work solely as a director, he began to freelance as a motion graphics designer and video editor. He made a fair living, but had to spend a lot of his time and money flying back to Germany to see his young family. “It didn’t help the relationship,” he admits, “which was doomed anyway. I now know we were just the wrong people.”

Charles’ ties with Berkovic and the east weren’t severed though, and he occasionally spent a few weeks at a time in Asia, working with the top-quality equipment and very professional people, directing commercials millions of people there would see – just nobody in the western world.

Life was great for a while. “It was really exciting in my mid to late 20s,” he says. “When you’re away from home for three weeks and you come home with a huge wad of cash that’s great. But you do this three or four times a year for a few years and you want to settle down.”

Working out of a suitcase started to wear on him and soon the work excited him less. He specifically recalls directing three adverts for Danone for Turkey – a market of over 70 million people. “I was paid very well for this,” he appreciates, “but did I enjoy it as much as I did on that last music video that I did with really good, trustworthy people? I didn’t. It was fun. I learned from it, but the little music video was a lot more fun.”

Back in London another unexpected opportunity flew his way. The Central Film School had found his work online. They wanted someone young with a good body of work in commercials to give a one-off advertising lecture. He agreed, the feedback was good and soon it led to him overseeing an ad competition they were running. That led on to him running the advertising course for three years while keeping up his freelancing profile. He found teaching to be useful tool honing his directing skills too. “It was a really good practice to force yourself to think. Whether it’s a script or the edit that doesn’t work, you’re forced to analyse why it doesn’t work.”

Eventually the school made the position full time, so Charles had to leave to continue directing.

Last year he worked on a massive job, co-directing the documentary Between Snow and Stars, about the extraordinary lives of mushers and climbers in the Arctic and on Everest. "It was the hardest project of my life," he says, "and I owe a lot to the Producer/co-Director: Thomas Vaillant (Thomas is now a Producer at Red Bull Media in Austria). It was the first TV-length project I got involved with and I've never learned more from a single piece; in terms of production, financing & distribution."

Eventually he saw the ad for a job as a Director at Animated Storyboards – a company who work mostly in animatic and pre-visualisation. “This is interesting,” he considered. “You get a really high turnaround of work. You get to meet a lot of people in the industry because ASB has such good connections to the industry. I don’t want to do loads of those foreign jobs because they keep you away a lot. And I like London.”

This looked like his chance to settle down, but unfortunately only lasted a few months. "It was a great opportunity," Charles maintains, "they are excellent at what they do and the team is made of lovely people. Genuinely. I realised however that the work didn't seem to offer the progression I was looking for originally. Mallory [Khalifa, Managing Director] is a great boss; very open and supportive of her team members. A very fruitful experience in the end; just not quite right me."

Charles is a certified wanderer, so it'll be interesting to see where his journey leads next. For the past two years he's been developing a script with his friends at Groundwork Pictures for that feature film that burns within so many directors. His is called GiG, a thriller about a dysfuntional family's descent into anarchy in a bleak British seaside town. After a slow start, he's hoping to begin pre-production on that very soon, so the next chapter in his filmmaking career looks like it will be an eventful one.

The APA Collection 2015 Revealed

September 3, 2015 / Features

By The Beak Street Bugle

The complete list of the best commercials of the year, as revealed at the APA Show 2015.

Tonight the great and the good of adland descended on the Guildhall in London for the APA Show 2015 - a night of revelry to celebrate the premiere of this year's APA Collection.

The definitive showcase of the best commercials of the year from UK production companies and agencies, the APA Collection is a fascinating barometer for quality in the UK advertising industry. Shown in theatres around the world and distrubuted on DVD by Shots magazine, it celebrates the best British advertising on a global scale.

We can now reveal the commercials that were selected for the APA Collection 2015.

Here they are in alphabetical order:


A DVD of the whole collection, including full credits, will be available in Shots 159, out soon.

Keeping up-to-date at HAT

August 7, 2015 / Features

By Jane Jarvis

Today's digital archives are built on creaking old machines and arcane knowledge.

Digital archives are where two very different worlds collide. In order to provide videos that stream through your fibre optic broadband in seconds, hours and even days must be spent in a windowless, climate-controlled room full of whirring machines, some obsolete for decades which require manual loading and expertise that’s becoming more arcane by the day.

But in this fast moving digital age of mov, avi, mp4, mkv, dav and dat files (to name but a few), it is worth reminding ourselves of the work needed by all media archives to ensure access to such a valuable part of our industry and social history is secured. Viewing and transferring to digital from a wide variety of formats is no mean feat.

With online access to our archives the priority, digitisation has become the (current?) solution to the obsolescence of all analogue audio and video formats. But to ensure the archive of the last century can move forward in this digital intensive environment, archives have come to rely on what are the ‘scrap yards’ of outmoded machines.  Think ebay, Gumtree, sale yards, even car boot sales and of course, TV and production houses where large, clunky analogue machines lie unused as victims of the digital age.

The History of Advertising Trust, the ad industry’s archive and barometer of social history holds all manner of images, film and documents charting the world of advertising since the early 19th century right through to recent years. To keep this unique archive up to date HAT is constantly on the look out for a host of specialist machines considered ‘old fashioned’ and redundant in the fast moving hi-tech environment of TV and production studios as they seek to de-clutter and rework their space.  Thankfully, these machines were built to last and designed for heavy use in editing suites with tapes freeze framed, rewound and played back again and again -  many make it to HAT who, paradoxically benefit from media’s technological progress, to continue their work in ‘retirement’,

Over the last four decades, HAT have built up a working ‘museum’ of equipment of all ages, shapes and sizes in their media suite. When Anglia TV closed its production studios a few years ago, HAT were delighted to take on a host of equipment including digi beta players, monitors and a one-inch tape machine but is always on the lookout for more specialist equipment including time base correctors, Steenbecks or any other equipment – indeed, for HAT, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

But it’s not just the equipment that is required. People who have a specialist knowledge to understand, operate and maintain the equipment play a crucial role in the archive’s work. These skills are disappearing as new technology replaces the old and with the threat that the future of analogue transfers relies on highly skilled people, we have to acknowledge that these specialists are a breed which will slowly become extinct.

Archive Technician Tim Day at work with the 1” tape machine at HAT


One such specialist, Tim Day joined the HAT team in November 2012 as an enthusiastic volunteer with experience working in International Broadcast Facilities in London as a VT operator in the late ‘90s. HAT soon recognised the value of his specialist knowledge of early technology and understanding of all formats and in May 2013 Tim joined HAT as their replacement  Archive Technician to work on the digitisation of their archive. Tim’s work involves patience, dedication and attention to detail to ensure the industry’s archive is preserved and, just as importantly, accessible to the industry. It’s a fairly unique job and one that Tim, like his HAT colleagues, feels passionate about. Transferring at ‘real time’ requires patience and constant monitoring and Tim looks on it as a labour of love.

“When I first came to HAT as a volunteer I had no idea of the extent of their archive and to be able to join the team and use my skills all these years later, working with analogue formats and machinery, which I thought I would never see - let alone use again, is fantastic.”

So are we on borrowed time to digitise our analogue formats  before these wonderful machines expire and the knowledge to operate them goes with them…? As a charity, HAT is always keen to welcome volunteers to the fold who might have worked in the industry and can give even a small amount of time to assist the staff and, more importantly,  educate a new generation to support HAT’s valuable work and so avoid this dilemma.

Does the Lexus Hoverboard Deserve the Hype?

August 5, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Space-age engineering projects like this might be a glimpse into the future of advertising.

Imagine a car commercial. It’s probably got a car in it – the one that it’s trying to sell to you. It’s probably a 30- to 60-second film playing in a commercial break on TV or before a film. It’s probably shot very nicely with a big crew and a high production budget. And it’s probably completely failing to hold your attention.

There’s room for those ads, but that’s not what Lexus and their agency CHI & Partners have been doing in their most recent global campaign. They’ve chosen to do something more futuristic. As the fourth and arguably most ambitious project in their Amazing in Motion series, the Japanese car brand and their agency have built a hoverboard.

The main video of the campaign, called Slide, hit the internet this week. Directed by Smuggler’s Henry-Alex Rubin, it shows pro skateboarder Ross McGouran gliding around on it in effortless skate-film style. “He’s the only person in the world to have mastered the art of hoverboarding,” says Sarah Golding, CHI & Partners’ CEO at a launch event for the film. That’s a big claim, but he’s certainly come the closest out of anyone to achieving the Marty McFly dream.

Brand / Client: Lexus International
Title of Ad: SLIDE
Executive Creative Director: Jonathan Burley
Creative Director: Monty Verdi
Creative: Brad Woolf, Dan Bailey
Photographer: Olly Burn
Photographer’s Assistant: Hannah Rose
Agency Executive Producer: Zoe Barlow
Agency TV Producer: Zoe Barlow, Nikki Cramphorn, Nicola Ridley, Matt Cresswell, Lindsay Hughes
Agency Content Producer: Karina Aloupi
Digital & Content Creatives: Chad Warner, Ben da Costa
Digital Designer: Chad Warner
Production Company: Smuggler
Executive Producers: Fergus Brown/Chris Barrett
Production Company Producer: Ray Leakey
Director: Henry-Alex Rubin
Director’s Assistant: Sarah Michler
Cinematographer/DOP: Ken Seng
Production Designer: Joel Collins
Rider/Hoverboarder: Ross McGouran
2nd Rider/Hoverboarder: Ignacio Morata
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editor: Spencer Ferszt
Editor Assistant: Jake Armstrong
Local Production Company: Goodgate
Local Production Company Producer: Gordon Mackinnon

Music Artist and Title: Rudimental “Waiting all Night”
Music Company: Platinum Rye
Music Composition:  “Waiting all Night”
Master Recording: Warner Music
Publishing: Bucks Music Group, BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Music Supervisors: Platinum Rye
Music Writer: Edward Jonathan Harris, Kesi Dryden, Piers Sean Aggett, Amir Izadkhah, James Richard Newman
Post Production Company: MPC
VFX Supervisor: Bill McNamara
Post Production Supervisor: Tim Phillips
Colourist: Jean-Clement Soret
Audio Post Production: Wave Studios
Sound Design: Parv Thind

Content Production Company: Carbon
Head of Carbon: Chris Reed
Content Director: Ben Hanson, Simon Frost
Content: With special thanks to Henry-Alex Rubin
Content Producer: Nazneen Hosenie
Content DOP: Ben Hanson, Simon Frost, James Blann (Announce only)
Content Editor: Simon Pearson, Pete Brenan, Alastair Graham
Content Colourist: Simon Pearson
Content Post Production Producer: Leanne Tarvin
Content Graphic Animator and Supervisor: Thomas Brady
Content Post Production: Kerry Arif, Aubrey Ghansah
Content Audio/Sound Design: Russell Bradley @ Scramble
Art Buyer: Emma Modler
CHI&Partners CEO: Nick Howarth
CHI&Partners Business Director: Jack Shute
CHI&Partners Account Director: Catherine Peacock
CHI&Partners Account Manager: Chris Tivey, Lexi Alston
CHI&Partners Planner: Rebecca Munds
Public Relations: Nita Rushi

Digital Content Strategy: AllTogetherNow
AllTogetherNow CEO: Conor McNicholas
AllTogetherNow MD: Steve Parker
AllTogetherNow Account Director: James Chanter

Model Maker: Robert Jones
Model Maker Assistant: Glenn Haddock
Production Designer: Joel Collins

Technical Partners: IFW Dresden and Evico GmbH
Evico GmbH CEO: Dr Oliver De Haas
Evico GmbH Chief Engineer, Hoverboard: Dr Lars Kühn
Evico GmbH Engineer, Hoverboard: Marcel Hüpfel
Evico GmbH Engineer, Hoverboard: Kai Günther
IFW Dresden, Pioneer of Superconducting Levitation: Dr Ludwig Schultz
IFW Dresden, Chief Engineer Supratrans: Dietmar Berger
IFW Dresden, Scientist: Thilo Espenhahn
IFW Dresden, Engineer: Ronald Uhlemann
IFW Dresden, Student: Stefan Hameister

Client Details: Lexus International; Atsushi

The Lexus hoverboard works with liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and magnets. Tiles of yttrium, barium, copper, and oxygen are cooled down to around -197 degrees Celsius using liquid nitrogen. To levitate, the board must be resting on magnets, which is why Lexus had to build their own custom hoverpark in Catalonia, complete with a magnetic track for the board to follow.

Ross isn’t the first famous skateboarder to try hoverboarding. Last autumn Tony Hawk demonstrated the Kickstarter-funded Hendo hoverboard, sliding around on a copper halfpipe.

The Lexus team claim they weren’t worried about this stealing their thunder. Ross asserts that it was easy to do something more impressive on this project. “As a skateboarder you could see that he couldn’t control it at all,” he says. “With this board I’m not in control of it at all either – I’m just riding it. The track controls where it’s going. [But] you can have more fun with it. You can do more tricks, whereas he couldn’t really do anything.”

CHI & Partners’ Creative Director on the project Monty Verdi agrees that the Hendo board was a good benchmark for them to beat. “We knew what we had was going to be better than that,” he says.

By the point the public saw the Hendo board, Lexus and CHI & Partners were already deep into the development of their board – a gruelling 18-month challenge chronicled by the documentary film Lexus released with their demo video. Working on it for over a year, Monty says the five-minute film could have easily been up to an hour long.

The agency’s Business Director Jack Shute summarises the obstacles the project faced:

“It was a first of every front. It wasn’t like you were taking a proven thing and putting it in an environment where it hadn’t been used before. You’re trying to invent the technology, then trying to develop that into something that exists within a shape that you need it to, then trying to make it ride-able and work with Ross to deliver that, then trying to build the environment that it can exist in, then putting the two together. Every facet of the project is learning at the same time. So every time you solve a problem you get a call at three o’clock in the morning saying ‘this bit’s not working.’”

Negotiations between scientists and engineers, an advertising agency and a skateboarder weren’t always smooth. Monty marvels at the number of times somebody said what they were doing was impossible, from scientists to production companies.

Ross remembers the engineering team repeatedly telling him no. One particular surprise was the jump that serves as the film’s climax. The engineering team didn’t believe it would work, assuming the magnet forces would pull the board in and then even if the board did escape they didn’t think it would reconnect. Ross tried it anyway. “And it worked straight away on his own,” he says. “So we just kept going through things like that. [The engineers] saying no then just trying it anyway.”

Why go to all the trouble just for an ad though? Considering these hoverboards won’t be on sale to the public in the foreseeable future and it certainly doesn’t look like a Lexus hovercar is on the cards, is all this work worthwhile?

Naturally, CHI & Partners defend their decision. Sarah explains her hopes that their achievement will make people “reappraise the Lexus brand and product.” The hope is that when people see Lexus can make a hoverboard they will wonder how this innovative spirit is applied in their cars. If they can overcome this challenge, imagine how well engineered their engines must be.

This strategy falls neatly into the groove several well-regarded brands are moving of marketing through product design and development. Like Volvo’s award-winning and potentially life-saving Life Paint campaign, which promoted a high-visibility paint to make cyclists safer on the roads, Lexus are creating something real rather than simply ‘telling a story’ with their advertising. “Brands that do, not just say, seem to be doing very well these days,” says Sarah. “They’re living their purpose.”

Just as Life Paint reminded us of the safety that Volvo prides itself in, Lexus’ hoverboard reminds us of the cutting-edge innovation that is integral to this Japanese car brand.

In a category full of clichés this approach is particularly interesting. We’ve seen a hundred pretty cars in beautifully shot films cruising through impossibly stunning scenery. Everyone’s bored of these spectacles. For Lexus to deliver what is essentially a skate video with a technological twist is a welcome surprise from the brand that made Alan Partridge’s car (it’s the Japanese Mercedes).

That’s why a pro skateboarder like Ross is a clever choice of brand ambassador. “I think it makes them look cool to a lot of people who probably didn’t think they were very cool,” he admits. Partridge probably wouldn’t get on with him.

The media attention the project has earned Lexus is pretty cool too. Tech publications like The Verge, Engadget and Wired got excited about their teaser video, which earned over 11 million views on YouTube without a penny of media spend or even actually showing the board in action.

It got people talking, which is key to this kind of marketing. “Ross has so many followers that people recognised [his] legs somehow,” says Monty, illustrating how closely the video was scrutinised by the citizens of the internet. And it didn’t take long for the geeks to speculate about the board’s design, deducing from the vapour it emits, it’s behaviour, size and shape that it uses nitrogen-cooled superconductors to levitate the board over magnets. 

Since the Slide film launched the web has been buzzing with conversation about the hoverboard, with articles about it on sites from the Daily Mail to Mashable. Naturally it’s all over social media too, with Lexus getting a spike of roughly seven times the number of daily mentions they’re used to.

The risk with daring the internet to talk about your brand like this is that it has a lot of potential to go wrong. Several articles and some social media opinions have focused on the limitations of the board – that it can only run on a track and has to be fuelled with liquid nitrogen and is hard to balance on. The Verge’s reaction was particularly brutal, summing up that “Even if you can get past the limitations (hope you’ve got a liquid nitrogen tank handy!), it doesn’t really matter, since Lexus won’t sell you one of these things. What we got is movie magic — well, ad magic, in this case — and I got to experience that magic in person.”

The problem is we’re spoilt by the dreams of science fiction. Everyone has an idea of a hoverboard in their mind. It’s the image of Marty McFly gliding effortlessly through the streets of the future. To judge Lexus’ real-life hoverboard by those fictional standards is unfair. Taking real physics and the technology available to us into account, what they’ve achieved is remarkable. Watch the film again. It’s much more exciting than a 30-second film of a car driving through a picturesque mountain pass.

A Teen’s Guide To The Ad Industry

July 20, 2015 / Features

By Hasnat Ahmed

A clueless 15-year-old enters the labyrinth of AdLand.

Entering these two weeks of work experience at The Beak Street Bugle, I mentally prepared myself for the role of playing a servant to a bunch of old, bitter journalists, making coffee and tea, following their demands like a bitch. Little did I know I was to be doing something totally different.

I was given the opportunity to go to ad agencies and companies like Somesuch, Wieden+Kennedy, BBH, CHI & Partners, RSA Films and Cut+Run. All, I must say, have completely different feels and vibes in each office. You had the contrast from an office with leather seats, wooden furniture and suits to one that looked like a shop with a selection of bicycles in reception and a different theme in every room with all the workers in casual wear, sporting Nike trainers (no prizes for guessing who that was).

Keep in mind that when I started, I knew nothing about the ad industry. I wasn’t interested in it either really. But I was thrown into the deep end, meeting and interviewing people like ECD Jim Bolton, many creatives like Chris Lapham, Aaron McGurk, Oli Short, Sarah Levitt and editors like Chris Roebuck and Ben Campbell. It really opened my eyes to the variation of jobs in advertising. I also got to talk to the people that handle the more business-like side of making advertising. I met people like Sales Rep Sophia Melvin, Executive Producers Casper Delaney, Sally Campbell and Kayt Hall and PR Director Isobel Barnes.

I got the chance to explore all the work and the never-ending hours of effort these job roles take and how all these people are necessary to make everything work. It’s like a complicated puzzle and all of these jobs are just small pieces fitting together. Without all of these people creating advertising, our culture would be less exciting and we wouldn’t get to see people express their creativity.

Wait… HOW long does creating an ad take?!

These commercials that all these people come together to make take many months, hours upon hours, just for a 30-60 second ad. FUCKING CRAZY! I’ve also found out just how much money gets put into making an ad, going up to millions!

Oli Short, a Creative from BBH said “sometimes, a 30 second TV ad can take 9-10 months.” What. The. Fuck?

There are so many job roles depending on what you’re good at and what you enjoy. It all depends on what talent and knowledge you have but there’s something for everyone. No matter what they are, you can easily translate your skills into a job in this industry.

I see it as a tree:

However, coming into this tough industry, almost everyone has to start at the bottom. Most people start as runners, meaning you’re making teas and coffees and fetching things for people higher than you. In order to build up your status in a company and get a higher rank, you must prove yourself by showing your motivation, making sure that you know your shit and can make it in this hardcore industry.

People with degrees and professional training still start at the bottom. Only a handful actually use their qualifications. Most people that I interviewed even said that their degrees were useless because all of the things they THOUGHT they needed to know were a complete waste of time.

What advice would you give to someone like me who wants to start working in this industry?

I repeatedly asked this same question to people I’ve interviewed. These were some of my personal favourite pieces of advice:

“It’s a long but amazing process. To get into this industry all I’d say is be really hungry for information and always be motivated for anything because it’s an incredible journey. As long as you’ve done your homework and you’re passionate about working in this industry. Always be hungry. Hunger is key.”
Renwick McAslan from BBH

“Everything links back to PERSEVERANCE. Perseverance is key because you need to understand that you will get criticism, people will keep knocking you back, but you need to be prepared for that. You need to be prepared and be stable for when your hard work gets turned down. But it’ll all be worth it in the end – believe me.”
Chris Lapham from Wieden + Kennedy

When I asked people what they love most about their jobs, it seems people in this industry genuinely love what they do.

Isobel Barnes from BBH said “It sounds like such a cliché, but I genuinely enjoy working with the people here as everyone in BBH is really nice and smart. Everyone loves what they do and always go the extra mile.”

Initially I thought, yeah sure, okay, everyone’s going to say that to save his or her ass from getting fired. I was shocked; as I kept on asking this question more and more people kept saying that, regardless of the frustration of doing long hours, they really enjoy what they do.

I found the positive energy from the people in all these companies very inspiring. It had such a positive impact on me to hear all their stories and struggles. It’s so refreshing to hear stuff like this for people like me, who want to get into this industry but are unsure whether it’ll be right for them. After all, I don’t want to be sitting behind a computer, drained, miserable and hating what I do! Everyone wants to have a job that they enjoy and are passionate about, including me.

However, it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be…

As amazing as working in the ad industry sounds, personally, I think there are some tweaks that need to be made. The issue with diversity and equality in this industry desperately needs attention.

I never really noticed the problem of this industry being a male dominated, white middle-class workplace. I haven’t got a problem with the people who work in it, but I find it quite unfair how little this issue is talked about.

It never really occurred to me until Sally Campbell, the managing director at Somesuch, opened my eyes. She’s recently been on the case to start an internship scheme, allowing young people with different racial, cultural and social backgrounds to get an insight into the ad industry.

In my interview with her she mentioned some remarkable things about herself and her problem with diversity in this industry.

“I feel very frustrated about diversity in this industry, presently,” she said. “That’s because I come from a very different background to a lot of people that work in this industry. I’m from New Zealand and where I come from culture is more acceptably diverse, so racially it’s very different and I believe that class-wise it’s very different. I think that in this industry, more of the problem is class related than racially related. “

She then shared with me what she wants to do to start resolving this issue by telling me her future plans with the APA.

“I think we’re going to set up an internship [scheme] where we pick between one and three kids a year and those kids are not just chucked into a company. We sit with them, find out their interests and then we find out what they like to do and place them in a company that is appropriate or relevant to them. For example, someone that enjoys drawing and art, we’d send them to an animation company. I think it’s our job to tailor it. You can’t just chuck people in a company that they know nothing about and expect them to come away from it with an amazing experience because they wouldn’t have learnt anything at all other than fucking making tea.”

In my own opinion, I agree with Sally. I believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to be in this industry. I’m not just talking about having a shitty job like being a runner. I’m talking about more chances for people to have the opportunity to be the best they can be and not be underestimated based on their skin colour, class, sexuality, religion, culture or gender. This isn’t the olden days people. It’s the 21st Century. And we all need to start being more fair and stop being so close-minded. This industry, to me, seems so amazing and so vibrant. If only this issue could be solved with everyone working together – not just one or two people, I mean EVERYONE – just get involved somehow to make this industry more equal and fair.

My time learning and getting involved with the ad industry was absolutely great. I feel as if I’m more educated about the whole idea of “THE MEDIA”. I’ve learnt that there is so much more to it and so many more platforms other than advertising that I still want to explore. I hope in the near future I get the chance.