What Is An Animation Director?

May 21, 2015 / Features

By Rebecca Manley

How different are animation directors from their live-action brethren?

I have been working as a director in the world of animation for just over ten years now, primarily in short films and commercials. I find that, even in creative circles, the role of an animation director is not widely understood. ‘Animation' can cover any number of productions including feature films, television series, cartoons, commercials, music videos, and video games. But from my experience it is not common knowledge that there is a key figure at the helm of each of these productions, namely the director, whose role is fundamentally the same as that of his/her live action counterpart.

"Most people can name their favourite (live action) directors. Ask anyone with the slightest cinematic interest and they can reel off the names of a dozen or so from blockbuster moguls to arthouse auteurs.  Ask someone to name an animation director and they tend to be far less fluent...When you consider that animation is a huge part of our entertainment and visual culture, and with so many of the largest grossing movies of all time being animated, this is pretty surprising." Christopher O'Reilly, co-founder Nexus.

What is an animation director?

I posed this question to a group of well respected, high-flying directors and producers working in the animation industry both nationally and internationally. And I have found that the discussion is multi-layered, often complex and invariably volatile. Has the changing landscape in film, interactive media and entertainment removed the distinction between directors and animation directors entirely?

My aim for this article, is to define the difference between a director at the helm of an animated piece, an animation director working on, for example, a feature film and an animator. By doing so, I hope to go some way towards elevating our common profile in the public consciousness.

Animation director, Director of animation, Animator…Eh?

I think that most people could describe a live-action director's job fairly easily. So it is strange that the animation process and production hierarchy are shrouded in mystery.

"The beauty of animation lies in its lack of creative boundaries - there's no theme too obtuse, no story too unreal, no design too hard, no set too ambitious…Anything is well and truly possible." Katerina Athanasopoulou, animation artist and director.

Perhaps as a direct result of this, there seems to be a perception that animation happens magically. Far from it. You start with a clean slate. Then, as a director, faced with an empty set, page or virtual space you must envision, and then oversee, the creation of all that is to inhabit the final picture from the tiniest spec of dust to the most terrifying of dragons.

"You can’t place a camera in front of a puppet, shout action and watch the magic unfold…Unfortunately animation doesn’t work like that. Every single event, object or character in every single frame of every animation production has to be planned, researched, designed and crafted by numerous different groups of incredibly specialised, talented people. This process is repeated and repeated for each and every frame you see. The person who orchestrates all of this insanity is the animation director." Mark Waring, director.

I spoke to my brother Ben, a writer and father of two, on the subject and his outside perspective was interesting.

"I think that people value directors of films for adults more highly than directors of films for children. This has lead to them being given higher status and celebrity. It just so happens that films for children are often animated. Could your average punter tell you who directed any of the Muppet movies, for example, or the Harry Potter films? Films for adults are perceived (by adults) as more important than films for children. I would say most people would see animation as low art for kids… Children aren’t sophisticated enough to understand that their favourite cartoons were directed by someone, but the characters in their favourite shows are as famous and glamorous to them. So I think animation directors suffer from the fact that their work is usually consumed by an audience either too young to know of their existence or too old to take it seriously."

This is a good point, especially as most people think immediately of children's programmes or films when the term animation is mentioned. Unfortunately, even though the animation world has expanded so much now that the children's market is probably just a small sector of over all animation-related production and turnover, the general perception of the medium has remained the same.

So what does a director working in animation do exactly?

A director working in animation can often be heavily involved in every stage of the production process. Sometimes, depending on the budget, they carry out many of the roles themselves from initial script development and writing, storyboarding, creating the animatic, casting the voice talent, designing/art directing, directing the animators, working with the composer and sound design team, to compositing and the final grade.

But on a big production, there is usually a person whose role comes somewhere in-between the over all director and the animation team.

"In the case of working with an overall director like with Tim Burton or Wes Anderson on a feature film, the role of the animation director is slightly different. Although a lot of the same directorial work will be covered...on a feature the animation director is the eyes and ears on the floor for the overall director. The director has the universal vision and usually has been the one working on the story and involved in the boarding stages to create the template for the film. It is the role of the animation director to implement this vision - they put into practice the wishes of the director...Regular check-ins and updates are prepared, but it is the animation director who keeps the ship running and moving forward on a daily basis." Mark Waring, director, lead animator ‘Corpse Bride’, animation supervisor ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ and ‘Frankenweenie’.

"On 'The Amazing World of Gumball' all of the 2D animation crew; twelve animators in London and twenty four clean-up artists in Germany, work on scenes with [the character] Gumball in it. They are all very different artists, with creative strengths and weaknesses. Yet when the work is finished, nobody should be distracted and see that so many people acted the part of Gumball. Part of the job of animation director is to 'cast' the right animator for any given shot and then to ensure that all those scenes look like they came from one artist. Some animators are brilliant at subtle acting but not at broad action scenes and vice versa. It's my job to get the best possible performance out of my crew as a group and create character portraits that are of high quality and consistent across all the scenes. The animation director's job is invisible. I've done a good job when the animation successfully communicates the ideas of the director and looks simple, unfluctuating and effortless." Joris van Hulzen, animation director 'The Amazing World of Gumball' and 'Peppa Pig'.

Where does the animator fit into all of this?

On 'pure' animation productions, the animators are your main actors. As an animation director you guide them in exactly the same way as a live action director would her cast. And like actors, individual animators can be better at interpreting different characters, personalities or emotions.

"I believe in ʻcastingʼ animators wherever possible, like actors, they can breathe and own a character, taking it further and making it more complete than I could do on my own." Suzanne Deakin, freelance director.

The animator looks to the director for an overview of the character just as an actor would look to a live action director for guidance. And similarly an animator often brings something unexpected or amazing to the role, something that the director never considered. In short, as a director, it is a real joy to work with a talented animator. They bring your vision to life.

Conclusion

So, a director working in animation is a leader and the creative head of the production team. They have final say on all the creative aspects of the job from design and animation through to sound and music, as well as guiding and motivating the other members of the team. This is also the role of a director working in live action or the theatre. So perhaps we should all just use the term 'director' and drop the 'animation' part. After all the role is the same and there is a lot of crossover these days, with directors making hybrid work that combines both live action and animation.

"I came to film with a background in stop-motion animation. However I now make films which involve blending live action performance into miniature sets and digital effects, to create the cinematic worlds that I imagine. Having this background in animation certainly comes with many advantages, one of which is knowing how to construct films frame by frame. This skill enables me to create precise and visually distinct work." Lizzie Oxby, director.

The main confusion seems to come from people muddling up animation directors with animators. For me and many of my peers, this is the rub. Mixing up the terms “animation director” and "animator" is like confusing “director” with “actor”. I think it is extremely important for those individuals working in the industry to understand the difference. I am approached on a regular basis by clients saying that they are in need of an animator, when in fact they are in need of firstly a director and then secondly an animator. Technically speaking, an animator does not work on the pre or post-production of a project (excepting those working in pre-viz and vfx). So they do not come up with the ideas for a piece and they do not design, plan or oversee a production. This common misconception can be extremely frustrating for both animators and directors alike because the client's expectations are often quite far removed from what is achievable within a certain budget or time frame and with regard to an individual's skill base.

A director is also, more often than not, trained as such, whether this be at college or on the job. Years are spent acquiring and honing a knowledge of storytelling and conventions for screen, visual language, etc. It is not uncommon for a director to have started out as an animator - Tim Burton, Brad Bird, John Lasseter and Nick Park for example all having taken this route. But they have all gone on to learn more about the entire process of filmmaking rather than concentrating on the craft of animation.

And it doesn't necessarily figure that animation directors can animate. An increasing number of illustrators and designers are being signed by production companies as commercials directors. Whether or not these individuals know how to animate is, in some ways, irrelevant - just as a live action director does not need to be an actor. A knowledge of the craft is valuable but not essential. The director must have an overall vision and be capable of steering a team towards the realisation of that vision. A director tends to do the longest hours, working overtime and at weekends to fix problems and keep projects on schedule. The weight of the production is firmly on their shoulders. This is not true of the animator. Although they will no doubt have tight deadlines and heavy workloads, they are not responsible for delivering the final product.

I think the overriding message that has arisen from gathering opinions for this article, is that most of us directors working in animation feel that we are no different from our peers in live action and theatre. Above all we are storytellers and creators.


Rebecca Manley is a director at Independent Films / Indy8. She is currently working on a title sequence for the BBC and ABC Australia. She is a board member and Animation Group Chair at Director's UK.

(NB: This piece is a cutdown from the original article published on the Director’s UK website).

Directions to Direction: Sam Brown

May 19, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

How talent, inspirational mentors and a lot of hard work ‘accidentally’ led to success directing commercials.

If you want to be a commercials director, you should probably stop trying to become one. Having interviewed a few of the most successful ones, it seems clear that they all fell into their jobs backwards, without really trying.

Take Sam Brown for example, a director who’s consistently held a place in the top tier of ad directors for some years now at Rogue Films. He had no burning desire to direct originally, but here he is. “Most of the directors I’ve met never intended to become directors,” he agrees. “They just stumbled into it.”

But while he wasn’t running around as a little boy with a Super-8 camera, it was clear from an early age that Sam had creative talent. He did a lot of drawing and remembers taking a unique approach even back then. “If I was going to draw a man I’d always start with the hand or something, but I’d do the hand with as much detail as you can possibly imagine and then grow the man from there,” he says. “Quite of then I wouldn’t finish them, so I have all these drawings of half a person. The hand is immaculate but the rest is not drawn at all.”

Sam had no ambitions to turn his talents into a career until he was approaching his GCSEs at the public school he attended. “I didn’t work very hard,” he says. “I was disruptive.” He was good at drawing but the old-fashioned school had never treated art as a real subject and so Sam had never considered it seriously either. But his path was altered by the school’s new art teacher, who put Sam on track towards a successful future when he came in and created a completely new, serious art department for the school. “I remember him taking me to one side and saying ‘art and design can be a career for you’”, he says. “’You can be as successful and make as much money as these other boys who are going to go out and be bankers.’” The teacher explained that everything from toothpaste packaging to the title sequences of films is made by someone.

This was a revelation for Sam, who remembers the conversation vividly. “It was the first time somebody had said to me ‘someone is out there having a good life and successful career doing this. And you could do it too if you focus and stop fucking about.’ It was an eye opener.”

From then on he knuckled down a bit and dedicated himself to the visual arts, eventually earning a degree in photography. After the expensive course he graduated completely broke, so was forced to get a job straight away while his buddies ran off travelling round Thailand and India.

The job he ended up in was as a runner for a food photographer. “God, I hated that,” he reflects. But it was good practice in honing the meticulousness his childhood drawings had hinted at. The photographer was doing one or two ten-by-eight plates a day for magazines, teaching him an important lesson in patience and attention to detail.

This was in the late ‘90s, when the music video industry was going through a golden age. Visionaries like Jonathan Glazer, Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry were making the promos that we still regard as seminal. Sam wanted to get involved. “You had amazing directors creating bodies of work,” he says. “Every couple of months they were turning out something extraordinary and you don’t get that anymore. It’s just people coming in, doing single videos and vanishing for ages.” Of course, crucially, there was also still money in music videos.

Sam sent out hundreds of letters to production companies and after about a year in his photography running job he started answering the phones at Activate, the company that had represented Chris Cunningham, John Hardwick and Ben and Joe Dempsey. It wasn’t the best time to join the team. The week after he joined the company disintegrated and the partners went their separate ways. “I remember sitting in the office and my boss Mary Calderwood coming in and talking about how to divide up the assets and who was going to have what directors. I remember he pointing to me and saying ‘he’s coming with me.’” She wasn’t asking.

Mary went on to form Flynn Productions, who became one of the foremost names in music videos. But at the start it was just her, one other producer and Sam in an empty office with hardly any directors. “It was like Ghostbusters, sitting there waiting for the fucking phone to ring in this huge office.”

Flynn took off pretty quickly and soon Sam started doing more than just answering the phones. He’d notice treatments doing out to commissioners with grammatical mistakes. His meticulous nature couldn’t stand for that, so he started staying late to rewrite them. Soon he was writing whole treatments for directors, sometimes expanding ideas written on the back of an envelope or a napkin. Eventually tracks would come in that none of the directors wanted to touch. Mary asked Sam why he didn’t pitch on those himself.

He reluctantly started making low-budget music videos with absolutely no experience in filmmaking. £30,000 was considered low-budget back then, so it was a daunting responsibility for someone who didn’t know what crucial members of crew actually did. “I really was in at the deep end,” he says. “I had excruciating early experiences [and] made a series of absolutely diabolical music videos.” Sadly none of these are available online. “I hope they’ve been sealed in some sort of casket and jettisoned into space.”

Slowly Sam worked out his role in filmmaking with help from other people at Flynn. He remembers the mentorship of Alex Hemming, another director at Flynn who served as Sam’s Director of Photography on some of these early videos. “He’d talk to everyone on set from the runner to the caterer. That was really helpful in learning how to conduct yourself on set and understanding that as a director your mood is infectious.”

Ultimately, he’s happy he had to learn the craft of directing on the job. “There are no rules to directing,” he says. “You have to figure out your own strategies and the uniqueness of your process is what makes you individual as a director. Figuring it out from nothing is a really valuable thing.”

Finding a unique approach was challenge at the time, because every director was compared to the titans – Gondry, Cunningham, Glazer, Jonze. “It was very easy as a young director to want to be one of those guys,” remembers Sam. “They represented completely different avenues of filmmaking and had pretty much everything covered. They changed everything and it was hard for [other] directors to find their own voice.”

Struggling to find his place in the directing milieu took its toll. “I felt very demoralised and really wanted to leave the business,” he confesses. He began to believe he was a charlatan and that his videos were terrible. But Mary didn’t agree. Aware of his potential, she gave him a chance to find his feet again. She told him to make a film for himself, with no brief or client, and gave him several thousand pounds to make it happen.

The resulting short film was called The Fight, a slow-motion struggle between two people with a dance-like quality. It felt like he’d found his own voice. “I’m not sure it’s a brilliant film but it was very different at the time,” he says. “I did have a sense that I was making something completely uncommerical.”

Ironically, it ended up working very well commercially. Commissioners got to see it thanks to Mary’s evangelising. “All sorts of people tried to buy it,” says Sam. And eventually it found its purpose as the video for The Man Who Told Everything by the Doves.

This success gave Sam confidence in his role as a director. Finally he bloomed into the talent Mary had seen in him, crafting a distinct tone of voice. “I made a series of videos that felt like they were mine and not anybody else’s,” he says.

His next career-defining moment came from another all-or-nothing project. This time it was the last chance for a label to launch an artist. James Blunt had made a song called You’re Beautiful. It had already been in the charts but had languished in the lower positions and made little impact. The label wanted to repackage it and remake the video. They told Sam he could do whatever he wanted. It was a last-ditch effort to save this artist.

A successful indie music video director by this point, Sam had just had his first child and wasn’t making a lot of money. He was wondering if it was time to get a proper job. It was a last-ditch project for him too.

Choosing a one-day, one-shot approach with James Blunt himself having to jump off a building for real, it was a risky idea. “It was a set of ingredients I’d never go near now,” he says but, as we all know, it worked.

You’re Beautiful went to number one and became one the most overplayed pop songs of the decade. Sam was excited to see something he’d done directly drive commercial success, but eventually suffered from this success. “It was tough for me how ubiquitous that song became,” he says. “It almost became a trigger for me. I’d hear it in hotel receptions and go into a rage. I felt responsible for inflicting this thing on the world.”

Seeing the result of his risk-taking made him more reckless. Looking back he finds it baffling the number of times he’d get sent a track, write a treatment and not speak to the commissioner or the artist until he got on the shoot. “It was like ‘hang on. I’ve just taken 150 grand of your money and you won’t ask me any questions about it?’ It was an extraordinary amount of trust.”

The crazy days didn’t last. Once the recession struck and budgets collapsed, things started to get stretched. “The straw that broke the camel’s back was the video I did for Adele for Rolling In The Deep,” he says. With over 600 million views on YouTube now and a Grammy for Best Music Video, it undoubtedly helped propel her career, but never made Sam any money from it. He quickly decided it was time to get into commercials.

At the time it was a fairly natural progression. With the budget gap between promos and ads relatively small, they were closely tied together. It’s not so easy now. “I feel like me, Si & Ad and Scott Lyon were the last few directors wriggle through that door as it was closing,” he observes.

Rogue were the first company to approach Sam and he made the transition very smoothly with them, starting out working on commercials with the style of music videos. Careful not to get pigeonholed as one kind of director, Sam managed to broaden his style very quickly and it shows on his eclectic advertising reel, from light-hearted stuff like Strongbow, Moments of Truth to Guinness, Black, which is more like a music video than a commercial.

Sticking with Rogue, Sam’s ascent through the ranks of advertising directors has been meteoric. He’s picked up awards including golds at BTAA, Cannes, London International, Creative Circle and a best direction pencil at D&AD. He’s in the top league of commercial directors.

Occasionally Sam returns to music videos, but he’s different from others who go between the two formats. The big reason people go back and make music videos is for freedom expression, as he understands it, “because you’re the dictator of your own little island when you do a music video.” But Sam finds he gets quite enough freedom on the commercials he works on. “People come to me to develop things, reinvent things, come at them from a different angle. So I don’t crave the freedom of music videos because I get that in commercials, but with more money and better ideas. And actually, I don’t like being the dictator of my own little island. I like working with people, taking their ideas and making them better.”

A Royal Rumble

May 18, 2015 / Features

By Jessica Turner & Helen Hadfield

All the drama of a real-time, reactive, documentary-style campaign about childbirth.

Film production is essentially advanced problem solving. And producing advertising can throw up all sorts of problems. But it’s not often that producers face as many challenges as Bare Films did when they shot their most recent campaign for Pampers in reaction to the recent royal birth.

We asked Producer Jessica Turner and Executive Producer Helen Hadfield to relive the experience with us. It’s surprising they don’t have PTSD after this job.

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi London
Exec Creative Director: Rob Burleigh
Creative Team: Hector Dudding & Oliver Quinn
Exec Agency Producer: Lauraine Bhuglah
Assistant agency producer: Beth tomblin
Account Director: Lisa Robbins

Director: Elizabeth Stopford
Executive Producer: Helen Hadfield
Producer: Jessica Turner
Production Manager: Rosie Pike

Associate Producers: Vicky Gardner, Ayesha Tariq, Jenn Westlake, Alex Dewhirst, Alessana Hall
Production Assistant : Maddy Perkins

DOPs: Petra Graf, Sarah Cunnigham, Maeve O’Connell, Elvina Nevardauskaite, William gardner

Edit House: Stitch
Editor: Phil Currie
Post-Production: The Mill
Sound: Scramble

Jessica Turner: As the world waited in anticipation for a new royal baby, in January of this year Pampers commissioned a new campaign, which centred itself around babies born the same day as the new prince or princess. Conceived by Saatchi & Saatchi, the agency approached Bare Films with the 90-second project, which was to be part of a larger print, digital and online campaign. Bare joined forces with award-winning director Elizabeth Stopford to come up with an approach to achieve the challenge, which was to be filmed in real time and delivered to air the next day.

Helen Hadfield: We had to deliver a truly outstanding job with no shoot date, notwithstanding getting people to agree to showcase such a personal moment on film as a campaign for Pampers. The moment it was confirmed we all drew a pretty deep breath. Great to have a one-off, never-again opportunity, then there’s just the problem of making it happen.

We had an extremely tight budget and a high-risk production. A very talented documentary Director, monumental expectations all round and everyone was going to work in an entirely different way, way out of their comfort zones. It was the nearest I have got to making a real documentary. We didn’t know exactly what we would get on film or indeed if anyone would actually have a baby on that day.

JT: It was a difficult challenge and the methodology specifically evolved to create the film was vital. We had no shoot date and needed to capture babies born on the same day but we had no idea what day that was. There was a rumour it would be some time in late April. There were no second chances. We knew we would have to run it like a military operation but handle it with a great deal of sensitivity due to the subject matter. 

We were fortunate that we had a director who was brilliant at getting sensitive material in pressurized environments, she had just been filming in a prison in America for her documentary feature and had also filmed in a hospice. She is particularly calm, considered but equally determined. We needed someone with the right clout and credentials to help us build the level of trust required to give us access to film where and when we needed. We were obviously filming in real-time with real people on one of the most important days of their lives, so we had to ensure that everything was handled with a great deal of understanding from all involved.

HH: Only the Director, the DOP and the Assistant Producer could ever be in the birthing areas and there would be no video playback. The sensitivity of the subject matter meant everyone in these areas had to be female. Luckily our Director Elizabeth was a new mum and so were two of the Assistant Producers. In fact Elizabeth’s baby Esme was with us a great deal throughout the production. She was only six weeks old when the production was confirmed. This was a vital connection. Trust and detailed collaboration was not just a requirement, they were essential.

JT: One of the most unique and challenging parts of the whole project was not knowing the shoot date – something you might ordinarily take for granted when creating schedules and prepping for projects. We could only really work by press speculation for the royal due date, so we made the decision to have all crew on standby for a month between early April through to early May with everyone being on call and ready to go at moment’s notice.

In many ways it was a case of heading into the unknown and we had to prepare for the unexpected. We set up Google alerts and had a Twitter account dedicated to following all the royal correspondents, fans and media outlets. We scoured newspapers and magazines to see if there was any update on when the due date might be. To cover all angles, we created individual plans for different scenarios depending on what time we discovered she had gone into labour and also when we knew she had had the baby, continuously being aware that we had to deliver the finished film the day after. We also had to anticipate any false alarms, which could quite have easily been a possibility.

Stitch were on board for editing, with Phil Currie at the helm. Phil had worked with Elizabeth on a number of other projects and this was an essential part of making sure we had a strong unit that would work seamlessly on the day! We worked closely with Stitch and The Mill to construct a plan to execute the editing and post-process as smoothly and as quickly as possible and ensure there would be nothing that would hold us up on the day and through the night. We made a template film in advance and commissioned music so that everyone, including the client, had a clear idea of the film we were making and we ran two test days, one in each hospital in advance so we could see how our process worked for the hospital and for us.

HH: There was much agonising about what we would do if we didn’t get a birth on the day. The template film was still being changed well into the standby period, which was meant to be agreed before the start of it but we did get the music agreed and the vision agreed and shaped before we filmed… eventually.

JT: A huge part of the production process was getting the hospitals on board and working closely with them throughout the period. We carefully selected them based on a number of different elements, but in order to achieve the concept of the project, we wanted to try and capture four babies that were born on the day so we needed to ensure we could work in environments that had a high number of births per day.

HH: Preliminary research on getting the hospitals to consent was negative. At one stage it looked like no major hospital would agree to filming. If that happened we were in deep trouble. We would have no film, we knew that we had to play the long game and it takes time to get these things in place and  we had an established documentary protocol for the hospitals, our snag was  we didn’t have endless amounts of time. There was much celebration when our two chosen hospitals said yes!

We put a massive wall chart up in the office Romford of the highest numbers of births in one day in the country and Chelsea and Westminster was very high up and a flagship hospital and they agreed! However on both test days we didn’t get a single birth. It nearly happened at Chelsea and Westminster but she just didn’t have the baby in the time period. What if that happened on the day?

JT: We had a team of Assistant Producers who started on the project as soon as it was commissioned, organizing the access, liaising with the comms teams and midwives at both Queen’s Hospital, Romford, and Chelsea and Westminster hospital in Fulham, to create a protocol and advise of the consenting process, which would ensure everything would be handled in the correct way on the day and build a relationship of trust between all involved.

After initial planning we created two teams, one for each hospital, which were then divided into smaller units of two-woman teams (one AP and one DOP) with a female runner on standby. The editors were based close by at each hospital waiting to receive the rushes and we formed a plan to transport the rushes from Fulham over to Phil at Romford, so he could make selects and edit throughout the day.

When the standby period approached, within the production office we had set up a rota of 5:00am alarms to check Twitter and news outlets every morning to see if she had gone into labour.

HH: Filming at Mary’s was very restricted (obviously!) We had a scout there every day of our standby period to report back as well as being permanently connected to every royal baby Twitter feed. Exhausting!  We couldn’t use any footage of Buckingham Palace or overtly identify the Lindo Wing.

JT: We worked closely with the camera house Shift 4 who supplied us with essential kit for each DOP for the whole standby month. We also had someone on standby at the camera house who would then deliver any additional kit on the day of the shoot.

We had to check in with all crew every three hours on a daily basis via text message, to let them know that there were no updates.

HH: The publicity was in overdrive so we couldn’t tell anyone what we were doing. None of the runners knew the connection until the day. Everyone had to be on alert throughout the four-week standby period.

It went to the wire. We never thought that we would actually be filming over the bank holiday weekend. All the reports indicated it would be earlier. But there it was, on the Saturday, nothing at 5:00am then at 6:40am Kensington Palace tweeted that the Duchess of Cambridge had been admitted to the Lindo wing. The adrenalin surge was massive, but the relief was huge too.

We went in our organised teams to our respective hospitals. We filmed the first birth at Romford an hour after arriving. A C-section at C&W followed.

JT: We were incredibly lucky managing to capture a birth at each hospital almost straight away.

HH: Then news of the Duchess of Cambridge. It was very exciting. It felt like we were making news.

JT: We had the right day! Our teams worked quickly alongside all the incredible parents who were so friendly and open to us being a part of those special first moments. The rushes were sent straight from the hospitals over to Phil and his team who carefully made selects from the footage.

HH: The poor editor Phil Currie was in our hospital flat in Romford, being fed all the footage from Romford and C&W throughout the day. He didn’t leave that flat until 6:00am the following morning when we left with him. The flat was exquisitely uncomfortable for all of us, director Elizabeth’s baby Esme slept in the spare room while we stayed up all night editing. We ate a lot of crisps and chocolate and the creative team attempted to watch the boxing match and failed.

We got to The Mill at 7:00am on Sunday morning. It was so civilized. We spread out, we ate toast, we drank delicious coffee, we got given bacon sandwiches, we had a graded, dubbed, approved edit by 13.00!

We were all on a high. In the end it went better than we could have hoped for. We had lots of babies, we had lots of press, we had lots of praise. It was all good. PR went into overdrive.

It was a privilege to make, to be invited into one of the most special moments in life by these new parents - giving birth to and meeting their baby for the first time. It’s kind of humbling.

Very grateful to the Duchess of Cambridge for getting in early on Saturday Morning and giving us all day up to midnight to get our film, she gave us the best chance possible and we used it. Lost the bet on the baby name though.

Billboards Covered in Tits

May 12, 2015 / Features

By Jake Dypka

Does the advertising industry have a moral duty to support the feminist cause?

It is an undeniable fact that sex sells. I don’t think anyone can refute the power of the human body, preferably scantily clad, to stimulate our desires in order to push a product. I recently began a project with the poet Hollie McNish and listening to her poems is bringing into question my own loose set of morals, which I had hoped I had buried far enough in my own subconscious to allow me to go about my daily life. I do work in the advertising industry after all. 

Advertising from the beginning has used sex as a weapon to grab people’s attention. My views are fairly liberal on the subject of images of nudity in the public sphere, after all some of the best of art centres around the human body. The problem for me is more a matter of taste. As much as we would like to convince ourselves otherwise advertising is rarely art, and sometimes some campaigns clearly cross the line when using sex to sell things.

I am reminded of the recent ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ billboard, where advertisers took it upon themselves to attack people’s insecurities. Seeming to suggest if you didn't match up to their impossible standards then you weren't ‘Beach Body Ready’ and your place wasn’t at the beach but presumably hidden away behind closed doors.  The first time I came across it I could taste a faint hint of bile at the back of my throat and it wasn’t even targeting me. I was glad to see the force and speed of the backlash with pictures of the campaign defaced with graffiti or altered in Photoshop to represent a more realistic curvy figure. I find it all rather liberating, this trend of the masses responding with their wit and imaginations to demonize some of the worst offenders. Change is in the air and advertisers need to watch their step.

If you don’t use Instagram or haven’t heard, there is a campaign at the moment to “free the nipple”. Instagram bans users who post material deemed inappropriate and one such regulation is no image can show the fully naked breasts of a woman. The defining insult seems to be that as long as the nipple itself is covered then the image is ok. Many people understandably argue that, as the naked chest of a man is apparently ok then why not a woman’s? You can understand the problem of course. Many of the images posted are beautiful and entirely inoffensive but if you ‘free the nipple’ as it were, how long until Instagram is ‘covered in tits’, as Hollie McNish would put it, and more offensive material becomes the accepted norm.

These are very strange and exciting times. The internet has thrown out the rule book. Views and opinions of individuals can now be shared at the click of a button allowing the status quo to be challenged in a way that has never existed before. Cultures across the world are seeing the effect of voices so often kept quiet in the background now having a platform to be heard. One of those voices gradually gaining listeners is Hollie’s.

Hollie and I were classmates back in school and one clear memory of her that springs to mind is me struggling away in an English exam watching Hollie a few rows up repeatedly asking for more paper to continue writing after running out. It was clear to me then as it is now that Hollie was destined to do great things. Her poems on all things social, cultural, personal, and provocative have been steadily growing in momentum over the years, and by some beautiful twist of fate we are working together to make one of her poems ‘Embarrassed’ into a film. If you haven’t heard the poem I urge you to do so, but in short it attacks everything from aggressive formula marketing to the double standard of anti-breastfeeding discrimination in a world of “billboards covered in tits.”

Is this some form of double standards on my part then? I am after all working as a director in advertising. The industry Hollie so cleverly vilifies for its own double standards.

I know from personal experience how individuals in the advertising community become extremely passionate and dedicated whilst working on projects with a positive message. Charity films are well known to attract directors and production companies alike willing to work for free to get a decent film made. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that most of us suffer some quiet moral dilemma when required to use our skills just for the purposes of selling. Do the brains behind the ‘are you beach body ready’ campaign lay awake at night ruminating on the negative ideas they have spread? Does the advertising community then, who gain profit for exposing breasts, have a moral duty to support the feminist cause whole-heartedly? I hope so. Perhaps I can make a start by exposing breasts on camera for all the right reasons.

 

Jake Dypka is a director at Indy8 and is working with Hollie McNish and Indy8 on a film based around Hollie’s poem Embarrassed.

How To Make Your Company Famous

May 7, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Too many marketing specialist companies need to market themselves better.

In the much-invoked ‘good old days’ production companies knew exactly how to get work in. Using technology no more advanced than a telephone, directors’ reps would win work face-to-face and door-to-door, peddling reels around the streets of Soho.

Everything was built on personal relationships and mutual respect back then. APA Chief Executive Steve Davies recognised this in his introduction to the APA’s recent event, How to Make Your Company Famous. “These are the time-honoured ways of getting more work,” he said, “and of course they’re still valuable, but getting work from agencies by going to see them is proving more and more difficult.” With agency workloads so stretched, deadlines so short and more competition than ever, getting a production foot in an agency door is harder than ever.

Clearly, alternatives are needed. Thankfully, technology has provided. There are thousands of ways to market your company now, but with limited resources, how should production companies know the best route to take? To try to answer this the APA called in two experienced and respected consultants, Adam Graham and Nick Corston.

Adam has run agencies like Saint and Weapon 7. He now runs consultancy business Cact.us, helping agencies build and expand their businesses. He began with a quote from Kirk Douglas: “Fame is as much about luck as it is about talent; perhaps more,” although he was quick to point out that such ‘lucky’ people also tend to work extremely hard and keep a positive attitude until they’ve earned that fame.

In 2011 his agency, Saint, was named Agency of the Year by digital marketing publications NMA and Revolution and he claimed there was a very simple formula for this that applies to any company keen to raise their profile:

Strong Growth + New Biz + Great Work + Lots of Hype

“The trick is doing all four of these in one year,” he said. The rest of his presentation focused on the hype – the hardest part of his equation to quantify and bit often dismissed as the least important.

While a hunger for personal fame is a bit mucky, Adam professed that for a business, “fame is a completely legitimate aim,” he explained why with the following points:
- Talent attraction and retention
- Gets you on pitch lists
- Clients like to be associated with high-profile agencies
- Increases credibility
- Keeps you front of mind with the intermediaries
- Fame builds fame; even smaller stores become important

But it’s important for companies to work out what they want to be famous for. Focus is key. While it’s attractive to say you can do anything, that’s too confusing to shout about, he said.

Once you know what you stand for, you can take practical steps to make yourself famous for that. Adam laid out seven steps for a start:
1. Set a goal and make a plan
2. Create a ‘Fame Budget’ – 3% of GP
3. Accept that there will be more wastage and lower ROI
4. Build fame into the brief: ‘What’s the press release?’
5. Max out social media. Get the whole agency at it
6. Drive word of mouth – three things that anyone can talk about
7. Don’t wait for the perfect brief – make your own luck!

He followed this with some great examples of companies building fame for themselves, from Dentsu’s Making Future Magic to Grey London’s innovative work on the Ryman Eco font, The Black Eye Project’s morally-questionable hacking of The Drum website, Adverbox’s smart use of editing software to turn The Masters into a crazy golf competition to Weapon 7’s own stunt – setting the world record for the farthest golf shot caught in a moving car for Mercedes Benz.

The tools are there for anyone raise their own profile without any external help, and if you claim to be a creative company you should be able to find interesting ways to do that.

Next he shared another list of practical steps – 5 things you can do today:
1. Write the brief for a fame project
2. Scour the press and submit five bold comments
3. Plan an event that supports your proposition
4. Approach five conferences and ask for speaking slots
5. Get the whole team together and brainstorm

Adam finished by stressing that none of this is worth anything if it’s not true to your company’s purpose, if you’re not creating great work as well as these fame projects, if you’re not leveraging all of this new content to the max and, most importantly, if you’re not having fun.

Nick took to the stage next. Once a Business Development Director at various agencies including Havas and TBWA\, he now also works as a consultant helping agencies develop their businesses. His advice began with a list of traits all the best pitches have:
- Simplicity
- Passion
- Authenticity
- People
- Focus
- Detail
- Winning
- Storytelling

Buzzwords, each and every one of them. But there’s a reason for that. We make decisions on our emotions and rationalise them later, so a focus on WHY you do things works far better than telling people HOW you’ll do them.

His overarching point was that “people buy people”, so a technical hard sell is a waste of time. Potential clients want to get to know your company and if you seem creative, smart and fun they’re more likely to want to work with you.

He compared the receptions of different agencies, recounted a story of how his pitches in Clerkenwell would often start with a grimy history of the area – completely irrelevant to the client, but interesting nonetheless and full of character.

This doesn’t just apply to pitching. Nick spent the rest of his presentation extolling the virtues of getting out there and doing creative stuff – not just for clients but for the sake of your own company – including all sorts of activities with STEAM Co. – an initiative bringing inspiring creative talent (what he called ‘Inspirators’) into schools – to publishing their own newspaper on literacy, the Literate Times (which they managed to persuade Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt reading) to turning an English teacher into a battle rapper. Listening to these madcap schemes was a little tiring, to be honest.

The overall conclusion of both hugely enthusiastic speakers was simple: get out and do stuff. Create your own opportunities and see where they lead. Whether it’s speaking at conferences, writing a blog, or concocting a ridiculous publicity stunt using social media, the tools are there for companies to make themselves famous. And as long as it’s true to what your company stands for, the pay-off can be far more powerful than knocking on people’s doors with a showreel and a dream.

Take That, Political Establishment!

May 5, 2015 / Features

By Ben Clark

How do you make a party political broadcast in the age of YouTube?

When you think of party political broadcasts you picture smartly dressed politicians, talking down their noses at you making hollow promises in their hope to win your vote. Cut to a montage of images of them with their sleeves rolled up in hospitals or wearing hard hats on building sites, pointing at things and looking concerned. Not the most challenging or inspiring territory for a commercials director. The brief that came to us from Creature London was a little bit different, and far from mundane, and stirred great interest from ACNE Director Johnny Hopkins. He saw a huge creative opportunity the moment the project landed on his desk.

A party like the Green Party needs to be different in order to stand out, so in collaboration with their agency, Creature, they worked on how to clearly convey a concise, powerful message while keeping it funny and intelligent. The hope was to be noticed on traditional channels and, importantly, through social media.

Creative Agency: Creature
Creative Directors: Stuart Outhwaite, Ben Middleton, Ed Warren
Creative: James Mitchell
Account Team: Dan Shute, Katrina Ellis
TV Producer: Madeline Smith
Film Production: Acne
Director: Johnny Hopkins
Producer: Barty Dearden
Executive Producer: Ben Clark
Photography: Denzil Armour-Brown (repped by Vision)
Editor: Gary Forrester @ Marshall Street Editors
Post Production: Ross Culligan @ Unit TV
Colourist: Simon Astbury
Audio Mix: Dan Beckwith @ Factory
Music Production: Eclectic
Composer: Colin Smith

It was different to work into a political party as opposed to a marketing department. Decisions were made on experience, instinct and trust rather than research, testing and contrived formulas. The client bought the idea at script stage. They made sure that the message and detail about policy and beliefs were accurate, but then left the creative decisions to the agency and production team.

Party political broadcasts are generally quite staid and dull affairs. That’s why the brief here was to make something big, bold, funny and attention grabbing. Johnny wanted to play it straight and shoot it like a serious music promo rather than anything too spoofy or silly. This play-it-straight approach elevated the comedy and hopefully made it more intelligent. Bringing a bit of humour into the serious and sometimes bitter world of politics was liberating.

Productions of this nature aren’t known for their big budgets, and, unlike the USA, there are strict and fair rules and regulations about what parties can spend on campaigns, so delivering an attention-grabbing film with limited resources and all on a one-day shoot was not without its challenges. Production and crew were very generous with their time, which helped us to get the most out of the budget and push the production values. With literally only one take afforded to each set-up, we had to pull a lot of favours,

Johnny worked closely on the lyrics and musical arrangement with the guys at Creature and Eclectic Music. There are strict rules applied when working on PPBs and they can only be created in 3 different time lengths - 2’40”, 3’40” and 4’40”, so we had to be very disciplined when planning the track, dialogue and performance. We took inspiration from 90s boy bands and tried to make it sound as convincing as possible which hopefully added to the comedy.

Whilst we did want actors who were similar to the party leaders we were very clear that it was not essential that they were “lookalikes” in the traditional sense. It was a difficult brief as were also looking for people with a likeness who could also handle comedy performance as well as hold a tune and dance, all at the same time! The first casting session was incredibly reassuring, as you could really see that it was going to work and, crucially, be funny.

From then it was just a case of piecing the band together, like a really strange version of X-Factor.

We learnt the hard way about how “intrusive” the press can be when it comes to political campaigns. Our suspicions were raised in casting, when one of our David Camerons was embarrassingly out of place and uncomfortable as he attempted to sing along to the backing track and move like a member of Take That. I did wonder why he was there, but as with all casting sessions you can’t be too rude about an actor’s performance and to be honest the Miliband he was auditioning with was pretty good, so we let them finish the “performance”.

It all became a lot clearer at the weekend, when we discovered the Daily Mail had run a double-page article complete with the full lyrics for the song and a photograph of the journalist outside the casting studio in W1.

For a short period we waited nervously by the phone to hear how the Green Party would respond to this intrusion. We were pleasantly surprised when they called to say that they wanted to go ahead regardless of what the Daily Mail thought. In fact the general consensus was that if the Mail thought it was a bad idea, it was probably a very good one.

The shoot was busy but it was great fun with lots of laughter as the guys danced and sang their way through the day. We were conscious to avoid the Green Party looking frivolous or not serious about the upcoming election, so the challenge for the edit was to balance the comedy with the clarity and seriousness of the message.

Presenting the edit to The Green Party was emotional. It’s rare to work with a client who genuinely cares so passionately about the thing that they are promoting. They have a vision for a better country and world worth passing on to future generations. This is a bit more important than another insurance comparison website. The edit was very well received and there were even a few tears, which were a combination of joy and probably relief. They genuinely seemed to appreciate all of the work that we had put in and never once interfered with the creative process, which allowed us to create a Party Political Broadcast that has to date exceeded all expectations in terms of exposure and PR.

The Green Party have been brave in their approach, much braver than the other political parties who have gone down a much safer route. This approach will expose them to a much wider audience and genuinely has people talking about them and their policies, which will hopefully have a good effect for them. It will be interesting to see what happens at the next elections, to see if the other parties take a similar route and move away from the mundane, factual approach to a more creative, appealing and entertaining one, which will ultimately be far more engaging, at least to the younger, more connected audience who are to date finding the current Green Party campaign far more “sharable” than their competitors’ efforts.

 

Ben Clark is Executive Producer and UK Managing Director of ACNE.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

April 28, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Why do brands want people to love them so badly?

If you’re a normal human being, hearing marketers talking about people loving brands can be baffling. Love is deeply personal. Can we really feel that passionately about a company that makes trainers or mobile phones? If we’re to believe a lot of the ‘thought leadership’ in advertising, the answer is yes, but how realistic is it to expect such a deep relationship between brands and consumers?

Neil Davidson is Managing Partner of agency HeyHuman, who have recently done some behavioural research on this subject that uncovered that 75% of people define easyJet as a “friend with benefits”; 60% have a “secret fling” with McDonald’s and 70% still have a “special relationship” with the NHS. Having watched him questioning the notion of ‘brand love’ at Advertising Week Europe, we interviewed him to go a little deeper into the subject.

 

The Beak Street Bugle: What’s your problem with the phrase ‘brand love’?
Neil Davidson:
‘Brand love’ is one of those terms that people in marketing all use regularly. It just drops into conversation. But I wonder how often people just nod and say, ‘of course we want brand love,’ without really questioning what we mean by that. Its attractiveness is also its danger. You would never criticise brands for aspiring for people to love them – but for me, it’s quite often too simplistic and also doesn’t dissect what that definition really looks like.

So, way back when, we used to talk about ‘Lovemarks’ [a concept coined by Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts] – which is incredibly emotionally engaging and aspirational. It gets people up in the morning! Doing new things for the brand! Actually, though, how directional and helpful is it? To me, that’s the big challenge.

It’s being aware that there are other ways to go that may be easier to achieve, more effective for the brand and quicker. There’s been a lot of research into human relationships; less research on brand relationships. Think about how many types of relationships you have in your personal life – and then think about how many different types of love relationships you have in your personal life. ‘Love’ would never be the one descriptor for all of those: there’s paternal love; there’s broader family love, there’s ‘true’ love, there’s love of friends... etc. And yet, when it comes to brands, we just talk about ‘love’!

Love has got many forms for brands. Understand what type of love you want. Or, do you actually want brand love?

BSB: Is it even possible for people to feel emotions like love for a made- up entity such as a brand?
ND:
The challenge is that you’re talking about something that’s either not real, or else is ‘just’ a physical object. Can you feel love for something? This is one of the things we’ve researched. And we found some people would talk about it in those kinds of terms – but they wouldn’t make it as simplistic as: ‘I love that brand.’ They would talk about a certain type of relationship with a brand that is in the love space, but they would describe it differently.

A good example is how everybody always talks about Apple. Interestingly, a lot of marketing people talk about how people ‘love Apple’ as a brand. However, in our research people talked about Apple being their ‘best friend’ rather than a brand that they had a love relationship with. Obviously that overlaps – but my question would be: What would Apple do differently if they thought their opportunity was for a ‘best friends’ relationship rather than a ‘love’ relationship? Which one is more forgiving? Which one takes you in one direction and which one takes you in a different direction?

Another bit of research found that if you build up a trust relationship as a brand, people are less likely to forgive you if you do something wrong. Whereas, if you set up a more light-hearted relationship, you are more likely to be forgiven. It’s interesting if you looked at, say, a Lloyds or a Barclays versus the brand that is Virgin; they’re both in financial services. You could argue, on that piece of research, that people are more likely to forgive Virgin the next crash, the next indiscretion, the next overcharging. For financial services brands, it’s in the folklore: ‘We must build trust.’ Well, maybe you should – but once you build a serious relationship then you’ve delineated what that relationship is all about. Whereas, if you’re Virgin and it’s kind of ‘Live your life!’, ‘Embrace the world!’ – slightly cheeky, based on Richard Branson – then almost inadvertently they’re setting up a relationship that’s delineated differently. People could be more forgiving when a Virgin brand messes something up. I don’t think people talk about that.

The interesting thing, for me, is if we’re going to use useful and thoughtful parallels between brand relationships and human relationships. So, for example, how often do you have a friend who you probably see once a week, which for various reasons might be four times more than you see your family? You don’t necessarily have to build a deep relationship to have a regular relationship. This challenges some of the CRM [customer relationship management] thinking: What is CRM about? How does it work? Is it like your mate who’s always texting saying: ‘Do you want to go to the pub tonight?’, so you end up going to the pub? Or is it like your mum, who makes you feel you should go and see her once a month?

BSB: So, deep, loving relationships might not be as desirable as regular, friendly ones?
ND:
I know that personally I fly easyJet more than I might, just because I can book a flight on my mobile app. Now that I’ve discovered the British Airways app, things might go slightly differently there – it’s that ease point.
People talk about UX [user experience] and things like that being incredibly important. I think, in a lot of ways, this research elevates disciplines like UX to a different level. It’s not just about removing barriers; it’s about doing things that will create a much more emotionally engaging relationship. It does seem that the research that’s been done on this is saying it’s creating these emotionally positive responses in the brain, which previously we used to just talk about as ‘brand love’, or something like that. It muddles with that spectrum.

Maybe UX isn’t sexy, but when you think about brands such as Über and others that just deliver somebody else’s service, brands which are on the rise, then the ones that are going to win and create an emotional engagement are the ones that are using technology to make it easy. That isn’t necessarily sexy, but I wonder whether sometimes these brands that will come up will be because they’re created by people who don’t even know the old market models. For them it’s just: ‘How do I make somebody’s life better?’

There has got to be an emotionally engaging part to this as well, but if I always know that with, say, thetrainline.com I’m always going to pay a pound more – because that is the charge – then me thinking it’s a cuddly brand is only going to be part of the equation. They’ve got to make life easier as well for me to make me think: ‘It’s only a pound.’

So the old rules still apply: appeal to people’s most basic motivations, connect with them and do it in a simple way. That doesn’t mean you can’t use whizzy technology, but it does mean you should think about the level of complexity that you might be tempted to create just because you can.
BSB: Do you think too many brands aspire to being loved when they might do better fostering a more pragmatic relationship with people? ND: There will always be brands that pull it off. They will be the ones that always get quoted whenever anyone does a workshop where people say: ‘My favourite brand is... ’ I suppose the challenge is, where human beings run a brand, then people want to get up in the morning and think they’re either working on a brand like that, or striving to create a brand like that.

Even going back to old brands, Waitrose giving away a free newspaper and free coffee at the weekend isn’t sexy, but on another level it’s genius! It shows they understand their audience and what matters to that audience in terms of making their life better. You don’t need technology to do that. The amount of people I hear waxing lyrical about their free coffee and newspaper from Waitrose! It’s not a big thing, but it’s sometimes going to be the little things that are disproportionately important.

I’d really want brands to ask what kind of relationship they want and why – before they go: ‘We want to be loved.’ Because we all know that in real life, people who walk about going ‘I want to be loved by everybody!’ aren’t necessarily the most balanced people!

I think we want it both ways as brands. We want to steal the human relationship analogies, but we also want to ignore the bits that ‘aren’t helpful’ – even though they are actually helpful. Is it realistic for every brand to be loved? Of course not. How many types of love are there? There isn’t just one type. How many other types of relationships are there? And why are we ignoring that?

‘Lovemarks’ is a brilliant sales pitch, but Lovemarks has been around for a long time now and the world has changed. It’s time to look a bit deeper at the brand relationship.

Ridley Scott. As good for you today as he’s always been.

April 21, 2015 / Features

By Jacqueline Holmes

It's quite hard to imagine Ridley Scott as an eager young director.

A map marked with possible sites for filming Hovis TV commercials demanding an atmosphere of nostalgia can be found tucked inside the Hovis Archive files held at the History of Advertising Trust (HAT). The map is a tiny but fascinating ‘documentary crumb’ reflecting how nostalgia became an evocative part of the brand’s advertising in the 1970s.

Think of the name Ridley Scott and sci-fi films like Alien, Blade Runner or Prometheus, maybe historic epics like Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven or his latest offering Exodus: Gods and Kings… the list goes on, immediately come to mind.

Scott is renowned for storytelling and the atmospheric visual impact of his work regardless of the genre. He directed the celebrated series of much-loved Hovis commercials, including Bike Ride featuring a bakery delivery boy pushing his bicycle up a cobbled Gold Hill in Shaftsbury, Dorset, first screened in 1973. It had a 10-day re-run in 2006 to mark the 120th anniversary of Hovis, set up as flour millers and distributors in 1886 but only later diversifying into bread making.

Scripts, stills, photographs and notes associated with the 1970s Hovis series of commercials help to recreate their back-story. A cine film taken on set during the shooting of the Homecoming commercial – the one about a soldier returning to his community after World War I and his welcome home – shows behind-the -scenes activities, including Scott sawing wood to help dress the set. This rare film has now been converted into digital format by HAT so it can be easily viewed by researchers on screen.

The notes for the 1977 Runaway commercial – the story of the young boy running away from home but being persuaded to return by the postman – provide the breakdown of the production company’s quoted costs. The director’s fee was £2,250, while the producer’s fee was £450 and £6,310 for the crew for three days. Other costs included £200 for walkie-talkies and smoke machine, £900 for catering and £1,350 for editing.

Scott came to directing via the BBC, which he joined in 1962 as a trainee set designer. While there he attended a directors’ training course and his first job was for an episode of the popular police series Z Cars.

Attracted by more lucrative opportunities offered in advertising, Scott, with his younger brother Tony Scott, formed the advertising production company RSA Films (Ridley Scott Associates) in 1968 and spent the next 10 years making some of the best-known and best-loved TV commercials, many for the innovative Collett Dickenson Pearce advertising agency. He has claimed to have been involved in the production of “roughly 2,700 commercials”.

“Biographers of Ridley Scott will find HAT to be a mine of information, not only by viewing the Hovis Archive but also by accessing other collections containing complementary documents, such as the J Walter Thompson (London) advertising agency archive” says Alistair Moir, HAT’s Archive Collections Manager. Amongst its rich seams can be found an internal memo from Jeremy Bullmore dated 1965 and addressed to ‘All Producers’. Headed “Ridley Scott”. It begins: “I have recently met and talked to this young Director and would very much like to bring him to your attention...”