Jumping the Fence: Nyall Cook

August 20, 2014 / Features

By Nyall Cook

In our new series on poachers-turned-gamekeepers, Nyall Cook reflects on his transition from agency creative to director.

Nyall Cook
Was: Creative at Glue Isobar
Now: Director at Habana Creative

 

I recently completed my first commercial job as a director. It was for Tefal. The film is nice. It’s sweet, charming and even a little funny. Well, I hope so. See that’s what I’ve found the most challenging aspect of directing… actually pulling off your vision. My name is Nyall Cook, ex-agency creative, wannabe director.

I’m by no means the first creative to leave behind the brainstorms, internal politics, and leftover meeting food of agency life to chase a dream. Far from it. But I am the only one I know, out of the ‘recession generation’ of pre-30 year old creatives. So for now I have no one to directly relate to about making the jump from Keynote King to a behind-the-camera maestro.

To be honest, I’ve always been slightly in awe of the directors I’ve worked with. I owe my entire ‘creative reel’ to them. They took my scripts and scamps, and turned them into something magical. You see, being a creative is an awesome job, but also a tough one. You need to be relentless yet diplomatic. Fighting for ideas; yet taking criticism on the chin. The amount of work that goes in before directors are called in is staggering. I’ve always wanted to make ads. I got into advertising to make ads. But little did I know all those years ago, on the placement round, that I’d be assigned to a back row seat.

So, in September last year, I left big agency life to pursue a new path. It’s been hard, and slow to start, but an incredibly rewarding journey. I consider myself very lucky to bag this first commercial job. Any ‘young’ director would.

Interestingly, I’m now actually a partner at a production company, Habana Creative, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee commercial work. First off, I had to build a reel, and that isn’t fast or cheap. Secondly, I’ve never studied filmmaking, and had underestimated the immense technical understanding you need – I’d always had professionals to look after this for me - I had to learn a lot on the spot - thank you, personal projects.

So when the script came in, and the budget was pretty low, I took the opportunity. As helping directors with their treatments is part of my current role, I felt at home writing my own. I love writing treatments – I built a career writing creative presentations, and they’re not too dissimilar.

The tight budget actually became a bit of bonus for me, as it gave me lots of creative freedom to tell the story I wanted to tell. I feel setting the tone of your spot, and seeing it through to execution, is one of the most crucial aspects of a director’s responsibilities. And getting agencies and clients to agree to it, and share your vision, can be even harder.  

My first experience of this came when I had to present my treatment to Tefal. As a creative I took pleasure in presenting director’s treatments – as the good ones improve and build upon your idea – so naturally I wanted to present my own to the clients. Luckily the agency agreed. I think my years of presenting concepts were a real benefit here as the whole thing went smoothly.

Onto production… One of the aspects of my new job that I love the most is how collaborative it is. As an agency creative it’s easy to sometimes feel like the world is against you. But with directing it seems people always want to help you out - your producer, your casting director, your DoP, all the way through to your talent on the day. Brilliant. I also love the attention to detail as a director; I’m really keen on art direction and styling (I actually styled the spot) and loved creating my own little world. I found it all incredibly creatively fulfilling. 

Looking back on it now, I never fully appreciated the diverse skill sets a director needs. You have to be a good writer, a visual storyteller, direct acting, spot talent, lead a crew, collaborate with agencies and clients, and then there’s all your post-production responsibilities. It’s like piecing together a complicated puzzle, and if one piece doesn’t fit – you’re screwed. Directing is one of the most hands-on yet visionary jobs I can think of. Any good creative is a visionary, but making the jump to director involves technical understanding and craftsmanship. This can be tricky to grasp at first, but having the right people around you helps massively.

I loved the pace of my first commercial job, compared to slogging it out for 5 months on one campaign as a creative. But with pace comes an end. And now it’s all over. Although I help run Habana Creative, I don’t know exactly where my next commercial gig might come from. Opportunities don’t land on my desk daily anymore. It’s all about fighting for each and everyone one now. But if they’re anywhere near as rewarding as my first ad, I’m happy to fight for them all.

Essentially I think are pros and cons to working as a creative before directing. I fully understand the process of advertising; which agencies love. I get new trends, technologies and of course concepts, which I hope to add to. I grew up in this industry, but this could also be seen as a negative. Creatives love directors that will add an unexpected brilliance to their work, perhaps learnt from other industries; shooting promos, films, documentaries, and art installations – you name it. But then again I’ve got time to try my hand at all of these. And look forward to doing so.

Don’t Borrow Music Culture. Nurture It.

August 15, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Brands have always rented cool from the music world. It’s time they started building it.

The relationship brands and their agencies have with music is usually simple: find the perfect song to set off a commercial and get a licence for it. That’s the bread-and-butter of Chris Clark’s job. As Senior Music Producer at Leo Burnett in Chicago, it’s his responsibility to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and negotiate with record labels to get tracks licenced. When it works, it’s great. But Chris, along with many more people in the borderlands between brands and music, wants more than just licensing.

The far more exciting proposition is for brands and musical artists to partner and build relationships – to create something together way more powerful than just playing some music over some pictures. As he put it when I met him in Cannes, too much interaction between brands and music is “borrowing interest rather than participating in culture. It’s two totally different things.” This comment mirrors the title of the workshop he was a part of, which championed the latter for the good of the advertising and music industries alike. 

Thankfully for people like Chris, this is the kind of thing agencies and brands are beginning to explore and he admits they’re getting better. But having seen it done well, he has a lot of ideas on how to make it work. And the key, he says, is getting a balance between a brand’s business interests and the personal interests of the artist.

One North Star the advertising world can look to for guidance is Pharrell Williams – somewhat of an icon of the moment. He recently struck a deal with Adidas that ticks all the boxes. With his links to fashion, street culture and skate culture he’s exactly the sort of ambassador the sports brand drool over. Equally, Adidas have their own associations to music style that runs all the way back to Run DMC. Pharrell is personally passionate about environmental sustainability and has his own company called Bionic Yarn, who turn recyclable materials in to thread to make clothes from. The recent partnership consists of Bionic Yarn making the clothes for Pharrell’s Adidas Originals line – what a perfect fit.

In the Venn diagram of the brand’s values and the artist’s values, the aim is to find a match like this with as much overlap as possible. It may seem obvious, but an organic, two-way relationship of mutual benefit is the goal. That way it seems genuine and avoids that awkward feel of an artist being given a wheelbarrow of cash to promote a brand they don’t care about.

Of course a brand can simply to take a ride on an artist’s social metrics and influence. It’s tempting to go for the big numbers, but this is advertising – it’s an arcane and subtle art – it’s hard to make a simple case for the most efficient technique.

“People have to evaluate things that way and they’re going to,” admits Chris, “but that said there are still opportunities and artists or styles of music out there that may reflect what your brand is actually about. It’s looking at what your brand’s story is, what it stands for and then figuring out what out there in the culture – what thing, genre, or artist – is the right one to potentially partner with, collaborate and create something.”

Chris’ job is to make sure brands are paired with the right artists, not only the most famous ones. It’s about knowing the principles and tastes of these people and what their artistic contributions represent. “Depending on who is approaching an artist, sometimes people haven’t done their homework,” he says. “Sometimes people are literally just saying ‘what are their social metrics? They’re in the top five. Let’s go to them.’ That’s a human being! An artist. They stand for something. Their music stands for something. It’s not the right way to approach it.”

It’s also important to remember that despite living in an age of manufactured fame built on uncertain talent, real creativity is still, thankfully, vital to music. Artists are creatives, so why shouldn’t agencies include them in the creative process? “An artist can collaborate just like your art director and copywriter, sitting at a desk hitting their heads against it,” Chris asserts. “Artists are willing to sit down and try to do something cool, because that’s all they do. They’re just trying to stay relevant, stay artistic, stay true to themselves.”

After all, they have built brands for themselves already.  Their musical output, their media profile, their appearance – all these things contribute to a public idea of what they represent – and in this age of social media many of them have built this completely independently of record labels or managers. To rise to prominence in today’s musical landscape takes an acute awareness of brand marketing.

Ne-Yo, who Chris shared the stage with at this year’s Cannes Lions, is a personal embodiment of a brand. Chris explains the brand the pop singer has built: “whenever anyone says his name it’s style, sophistication, sexy, well-dressed, a casual demeanour, humble but the right amount of flash. That’s what I think immediately when I think of him. That’s a brand. He created that. His music and art follow suit. But based on what he’s built he has to choose the right marketing for his product.”

One way to make sure a partnership is genuine is to find an artist who genuinely already supports the brand. This may seem to fit in the traditional celebrity endorsement category, which is cheesy on Bruce Forsythe levels, but done right it can be a strong foundation for a genuine collaboration with that artist – a conversation they are happy to have.

Cosmetics company Mac have worked with Kiwi singer-songwriter sensation Lorde recently, building on the helpful fact that Lorde absolutely loves Mac cosmetics. She’s just developed and launched a new range with them, taking the partnership much further than straight endorsement. It’s smart – while film stars and models have traditionally graced billboards, advertisers have recently started to figure out that music artists have more dedicated fans, even tribes like Directioners, Little Monsters, the Beygency.

The job of people like Chris is to find these authentic partnerships and let everyone know who would be willing to work with what brand.

One point that may not seem obvious here is that working between the spaces of brands and music doesn’t have to be about harnessing the power of A-listers. Converse is an example Chris gives to illustrate a brand that has an honest place in music culture without the need for big names. It’s not all about numbers of fans, as hard as it may be to convince clients of that.

It all started for Converse back in the ‘70s. Scuzzy New York punks – the Ramones and co – wore their affordable shoes because they were broke. Since then they’ve been on the feet of every scuzzy rock band from AC/DC to Nirvana. It took a while for the brand to catch on, but their history validates them as participants in music culture – not only a brand trying to borrow its aura of cool.

“That’s the nice thing about it,” says Chris. “To try to participate as a brand in music culture doesn’t have to be with an A-list artist. It could be embracing a genre or a scene. It could be embracing a group of artists who are all doing something similar.”

For brands to become part of the music world is easier today. With it becoming increasingly hard to make money out of music, there’s space for that deficit to be filled by money from business. But straight sponsorship should be avoided, suggests Chris. What he’s after is heartfelt support of an artistic industry that needs the help.

If a product is allowing people to experience music, collaborating and nurturing creativity, that’s how a brand can earn the respect of music fans. Converse run Rubber Tracks Studio in Brooklyn, New York, where emerging bands can come and record for free – something extremely valuable to the music community that has made Converse the brand it is today. Similarly Red Bull have the Red Bull Music Academy, schools teaching people who want to make an impact on the music industry. The coolest brands are already doing it, but there’s space for much more. 

“You have to create something outside of just a message,” says Chris. “And if you are creating something that can be experienced within a certain culture and you understand the culture, good for you, you’re a braver brand than most.”

About the Beak Street Bugle

August 15, 2014 /

By alex

The Beak Street Bugle is an online newspaper for the advertising world. Here you will find articles on advertising and commercials production, in particular, containing insight, opinion, reviews, blind conjecture, humour and work.

Signed: Nicolas Davenel

August 15, 2014 / Signed/Unsigned

By The Beak Street Bugle

Able&Baker sign a French image-maker with a savage, motorized aesthetic.

Breton director Nicolas Davenel is the latest young spark to join the burgeoning ranks of Able&Baker.

Having started his career in film as an editor, Nicolas first moved behind the camera to direct a stop-motion video for French garage rock outfit The Parisians – a process he looks back on the long and painstaking process of assembling it in post-production.

From there on Nicolas worked on various projects, some more commercial than others, with varying degrees of creative freedom and room for experimentation, from music videos to fashion films, online content and TVCs.

His fascination with all things motorized – particularly those on two wheels – is apparent in his video for Birdy Nam Nam’s Defiant Order, which stages an adolescent romance narrative within a real suburban bike gang. He’s also in production on Live Fast // Ride Slow, a feature documentary about US moped gangs.

Watch some of his work here:

Unsigned: Człowiek Kamera

August 15, 2014 / Signed/Unsigned

By The Beak Street Bugle

More than just a man with a movie camera.

Człowiek Kamera isn’t a proper name – it’s just Polish for camera man. The director decided to adopt the moniker while he was studying film at the University of Lodz. His inspiration was Soviet director and operator Dziga Vertov and his avant-garde film Man With a Movie Camera.

While the Camera Man’s initial experimentations with cinematography started off documenting live music, his filmmaking soon diversified into more created music videos.

Almost ten years since he first picked up a camera, Człowiek Kamera has worked with some interesting artists from around the world, has had his work featured at several festivals around Europe and was nominated for a UKMVA in 2013.

Watch some of his work here:

 

High Five: August

August 14, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

A handful of ads that prove brave is best.

The advertising industry talks about bravery and risk a lot these days. Without risk-taking, the argument goes, your good work will never be great. There’s a lot of truth in that, as our pick of this month’s best advertising demonstrates. None of these films would have been made if the clients, agencies and production companies had been afraid of doing something courageous and different.

Brand: Ikea

Title: Beds

Production Company: MJZ

Director: Juan Cabral

Production Company Producer: Stephen Johnson

Director of Photography: Eric Gautier

Ad Agency: Mother

Editing Company: Work

Editor: Neil Smith

Sound Company: 750mph

Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell

Post Production Company: MPC

Ikea - Beds

Appropriating Shakespeare to sell furniture is a ballsy move, riddled with risks. Not least the chance that it will just go over everyone’s heads. But it’s better to overestimate than patronise your audience, right? Anyway, the lofty rhetoric about the ephemeral nature of human experience is matched very nicely by the esoteric visuals brought together by Juan Cabral. It stands out, both visually and aurally. And in advertising, that’s one of the most vital battles won.

 

Brand: Imperial War Museum

Title: Flight of the Stories

Production Company: Aardman

Director: Darren Dubicki

Production Company Producer: Helen Argo

Ad Agency: Johnny Fearless

Art Director: Pia Knight

Copywriter: Paul Domenet

Agency Producer: Christian Lobo

Music Company: Soviet Science

Sound Company: GCRS

Sound Designer: Ben Leeves

Post Production Companies: Aardman, Big Buoy

Imperial War Museum – Flight of the Stories

Befitting of one of Britain’s most illustrious museums, this film has reserve, class and dignity. Considering the unprecedented horrors soldiers fighting in the trenches of the First World War faced, it’s powerful that the selected quotations are so optimistic. With an intriguing style of animation illustrating the metaphor, it’s a distinctive piece that sets off the idea quite poetically.

 

Brand: Johnnie Walker

Title: The Gentlemen’s Wager

Production Company: RSA Films

Director: Jake Scott

Production Company Producers: Jules Daly and Tracie Norfleet

Director of Photography: John Mathiesson, ASC

Ad Agency: Anomaly

Creatives: Mike Byrne, Dave Douglass

Agency Producer: Winslow Dennis

Editing Company: Peep Show

Editor: Andrea MacArthur

Music Company: Eclectic

Composers: Smith & Elms

Sound Company: Heard City

Sound Designer: Cory Melious

Post Production Company: The Mill

Johnnie Walker – The Gentleman’s Wager

Let’s be honest. Jude Law’s starring role makes this short film’s success a bit of a forgone conclusion. Once they had the name, they didn’t need to put much effort into making a film. Thankfully, RSA have bothered to make the effort though. And for a film about a man doing a dance, it’s pretty epic. With a clearly aspirational audience in mind, it might be a bit beguiling to most of us, (the way the 1% live…) but it’s a sumptuous piece of filmmaking and, importantly, it doesn’t feel like an ad.

 

Brand: Royal Marines

Title: They Come from the Sea

Production Company: RSA Films

Director: Johnny Hardstaff

Production Company Producer: Ben Link

Ad Agency: WCRS

Creative Director: Billy Faithfull

Creatives: Katy Hopkins, Steve Hawthorne

Agency Producer: Lizzie Mabbott

Editing Company: The Whitehouse

Editor: John Smith

Sound Company: Wave

Sound Designer: Joe Mount

Post Production Company: MPC

Royal Marines – They Come from the Sea

The best thing about this is the contrast to the optimistic, sometimes even patronising tone we see repeatedly in other armed forces’ recruitment ads. It doesn’t completely disguise the dark side of the military, making the Royal Marines seem more like a mythical band of ninjas rather than sanctimonious heroes of the free world, which is brave on the part of the client. The fear of their victim is tangible, and it’s down to the filmmaking talent of Johnny Hardstaff that makes it so nightmarish. Refreshingly sinister.

 

Brand: Three

Title: We’re Sorry

Production Company: Hungryman

Director: Ric Cantor

Production Company Producer: Jack Beardsley

Director of Photography: Mike George

Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London

Creative Directors: Scott Dungate, Graeme Douglas

Art Director: Greg Kouts

Copywriter: Anthony Atkinson

Agency Producer: Michelle Brough

Editing Company: Ten Three

Editor: Billy Mead

Music Company: Finger Music

Sound Company: Finger Music

Sound Designer: Tom Joyce

Post Production Company: Time Based Arts

Three – We’re Sorry

Some of the best ad campaigns in history have turned a negative into a positive. It’s clever of Wieden+Kennedy to admit the downside of Three’s new feature, allowing its customers to use their UK allowance in 16 foreign counties. The fake apology is another familiar trope, but that shouldn’t take away from the brilliance of this campaign. It’s genuinely amusing and the point about the product is clearly made. Plus, it’s a message we can all get behind: stop holiday spam. Here, here.

Under the Influence: Charlie Crane

July 29, 2014 / Features

By Izzie Weller & Alex Reeves

Knucklehead’s photographically minded director talks us through the muses that shaped and inspired him.

Like trees growing around manmade structures, people are shaped according to the things they encounter. Directors are no different. No matter how unique their style, the people, places and art they encounter influence their work.

Charlie Crane, one of Knucklehead’s sharpest directors, came to directing through a passion for photography. We asked him about the people and creations that helped turn him from a young man with only one GCSE who can’t swim into a filmmaker who makes things look effortlessly cool and chooses to spend his spare time wandering around North Korea.

Bill Rowlinson

“Before I was a photographer I was a photographer’s assistant and before that I was a general mess. I was doing a part-time job with someone. He was doing an interview for a magazine and he said ‘you should come and see this guy with me, he’s a black-and-white printer’ and he was just this amazing dude.

He was probably the best black-and-white printer in the country. He was printing a lot of advertising work but he also did a lot of great non-commissioned black-and-white photography, for [people like] Sarah Moon and Bill Brandt.

His house was just filled with prints all over the walls, all stained with nicotine because he smoked so heavily. In his kitchen there were developing trays and empty 7Up bottles that had been filled with different developers and toners and he had prints slapped up against the wall – when a print’s wet you can chuck it against the wall and it sticks there and you can assess it.

He would tone and work in his kitchen and his darkroom was in the basement. The only person that has ever been in his basement is his electrician (but I’m not sure that’s true). He just lived and breathed what he did and he was amazing at it, incredibly creative, incredibly different.

I think that inspired me to become a photographer – what he did, the way he lived and the way he did it. He was completely immersed in it. That taught me you can do something and it doesn’t have to be a job - it’s just what you do. Just immerse yourself completely in it. I tried to hold that inside me as a work ethic, and I’ve always liked going to work since.”

Thomas Struth

“I’ve never met him, it’s just his work and I find it completely beguiling. I can just sit and stare at his photographs. Their composition, their steadiness and their calmness have an incredible power on me. I think that he’s a very intelligent photographer.

He’s a German art photographer and studied the Düsseldorf Academy at a time when photography was evolving into what everybody recognizes it as now. There was a whole load of stuff going on in America with [William] Eggleston and all those sorts of people. And there was also this thing going on in this Germanic school and I love both schools.

I think if there’s work I go back to again and again and I can sit with and sit with forever, it’s Thomas Struth’s work, both his portraiture and his landscapes, but particularly his cityscapes. I can just live in those pictures. I adore them.

What I really love about moving imagery is you can change things and move from one place to another. But I also love a still, beautifully composed frame. And for me to be able to have all those things in moving image storytelling and then to be able to hold on a still frame – I want those still frames to be like his still frames. They’re so considered, the composition is so lovely that you can just sit and absorb them and they kind of wash over you. That is something that I find really inspiring.

It has a really direct impact on my work. Interestingly I rarely put his pictures into treatments because sometimes they don’t necessarily suit a particular job, but in my mind some of his imagery will always find it’s way into things.”

Fight Club

“I find his [David Fincher’s] other work really engaging, very emotional, very clever and very sophisticated but when I went to South America on holiday Fight Club was on in the cinema. I watched it and I walked out and I was like ‘fucking hell. You can’t do that. You can’t do that with a photograph. You just can’t. You can’t make someone feel like that, not like I felt from watching that.’

I was a photographer’s assistant then so I thought ‘how do you do that?’ I walked round in this country, in this city I had never been to before. There were loads of new things to look at, but I just couldn’t get out of the film. That’s really amazing.

I’ve watched a lot of films but I’ve never really watched them with that confidence and maybe that’s being somewhere else or whatever, but it just made a massive impact on me. I think that the way he tells the story is so complex and intelligent and yet he deals with emotionally challenging subjects. That was a very defining and inspiring moment.”

Malcolm Venville

“When I was a photographer’s assistant I worked for a guy called Malcolm Venville who’s a director but also a photographer and he influenced the way I worked, defiantly. He was just a real eye opener to the way that a director works compared to a lot of photographers.

I’d assisted quite a lot of photographers but I’d never assisted someone that also worked as a director and the different way that they collaborate with people. He was very trusting of me to do things. It was much more overarching directing –not micromanaging – a lot of directors micromanage.

His influence on me is about collaboration, with the crew and the agency; about making work with other people and seeing a much broader picture and not being so narrowly focused on this tiny thing but taking an overview.
It was such a different experience to work with someone like that. It has influenced me an awful lot, in the same way that Bill Rowlinson did.

To see a photographer that can translate their work into moving imagery and do it really well was very inspiring too. To see that there is a path that has already been trodden was a massive eye opener for me, for someone who has come from assisting and starting with wedding photographers and moving up the ranks.”

Multifaceted Artists

“One of the things I love about Takeshi Katano is he’s got this bloody awful thing that he does – Takeshi’s Castle. So he’s a really wacky comedian and does these game shows. He writes, he paints and he makes these arty, emotional, thoughtful movies and I think that’s fascinating.

I don’t know much about his filming processes but I do like that it’s really rough around the edges. He doesn’t do loads of takes; he keeps it quite simple. There’s an edge to it, a rawness so you get an emotional story.

It’s just so different from someone like Fincher in that he can just go ‘right ok we’ve got two takes, ok lets move on’. It’s just about getting the story across and then he’s going to go and do something else. And I love the lack of polish and the variety of movies that he makes. I don’t necessarily like all of them but I have some favourites, like Sonatine, which is a really beautiful movie, and his version of [The Blind Swordsman:] Zatoichi, which is amazing. There’s just a sort of silence to it.

Again, he has a contemplative nature to his work. He’s got this weird, wacky thing that he does and he acts sometimes and he directs and he’s, again, immersing himself in what he loves. I love cross-pollination. I think that’s fascinating and such a wonderful thing about making moving imagery.

I think that [Werner] Hertzog can do the same thing, not in the same way but he can move around so much. I haven’t studied film, I wasn’t some clever film bod and a friend of mine told me to watch Grizzly Man. It’s all found footage and I was like ‘that’s so against my aesthetic. I don’t like that at all.’ Then I watched that movie and I think it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life. It just showed me how important it is not to have pre-conceived ideas. I thought that was just insane, such an incredible look at our relationship with animals. It blew my mind.

Herzog can do these crazy projects and go ‘that’s what I want to do right now’ and I think that’s what a lot of really good artists do. They’re not just stuck in one medium. They move around. They can paint, they can make a film and then they can draw, then they can sculpt and I see that as a very similar sort of thing with both Hertzog and Katano.”

 

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

A Double-Barrelled Music Video Assault

July 24, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Just a year old, Able&Baker have made a big dent in the promo scene.

This year’s CFP-E & Shots Young Director Award served up some interesting results, while Kibwe Tavares cleaned up with his short film Jonah, all the glory of the European Music Video category flowed in one direction – to Park Village’s new promo company, Able&Baker. Videos from their directors Rémy Cayuela and Jim Demuth picked up first and second prize respectively – quite a feat considering that was within one of the most hotly contended categories.

It’s a great result for Park Village. Founded in the 1970s, one of the most well established of London’s production companies, this impact on the music video landscape proves that it pays to be brave. Traditional companies are often afraid to step into the unknown, but Able&Baker have entered this market and carved out a space for themselves. It sets a great example for how to launch a sub-brand.

We asked the company’s Executive Producer Joe Walker for his thoughts.

Director: Rémy Cayuela
Production Company: Able & Baker
Producer: Joe Walker
1st Assistant Director: Jules Higgs
Director of Photography: Jake Scott
Gaffer: Mark Holownia
Art Director: Sets Appeal
Wardrobe: Cesca Salter Dvorak
Make-Up: Sian Duke
Editor: Ellie Johnson
VFX Company: Burning Reel
Animators: Chloe Haywood, David Phaelon
VFX Producer: Cal Gordon
Colourist: Muriel Archambaud
Director’s Representation: Marisa Garner
Commissioner: James Hackett
Labels: Ram Records, Virgin EMI

The Beak Street Bugle: What do your Young Director Award wins mean to you guys?
Joe Walker:
It means an enormous amount! The YDA awards have an amazing reputation as talent spotters so to have not one but two our directors awarded by them is a massive honour.

BSB: Why do you think you won?
JW:
I think the reason why Remy and Jim did so well with these two particular projects is that in both cases they're trying to come up with fresh approaches to the whole music video format, which turned out to be a really good fit to the YDA's remit to celebrate originality and creative bravery. 

In Remy's case he took a fairly familiar music video trope – the lifespan of a relationship – but by breaking this arc down in a series of statistical snapshots he found a new and funny way for people to connect with this idea that I don't think we've seen before. James Hackett the commissioner fought really hard for the idea and I think we ended up with something really striking.

Jim's video for Django Django (which was produced through Vice before Jim joined us – big up Vice!) on the other hand is a straight up ob. doc. There's been a massive boom in reality-based videos that seemed to come off the back of Bob Harlow's amazing Feel The Love for Rudimental a few years ago but I think pieces like this that are genuinely observational and unreconstructed are still pretty rare. In this one I think Jim made something really special. It's way more than just a visually exciting spectacle; it's a really human portrait of a subculture that we don't normally get to access. I think they're both really exciting new directorial voices, we're massively proud of them.

BSB: Can you describe the journey of Able&Baker up to this point?
JW:
It's quite a short story really, Able&Baker just celebrated its first birthday. The company was set up as a kind of incubator for new talent for our parent company Park Village.

Initially I think we conceived as ourselves as a music video imprint but pretty quickly the type of work we were able to sell our guys in broadened right out and we've come to overlap with Park Village on content.

I feel like we get to operate at a kind of sweet spot in that we have the freedom to define our own identity but on the other hand we have really strong and long-lasting relationships to with agencies and clients Park Village has developed over years to draw upon in developing our directors. We're trying to keep the roster small and diverse, we're got a couple of new signings to announce over the coming months we're really excited about.

Executive Producer: Jane Third
Producer: Posy Dixon
Director: Jim Demuth
Editor: Iain Pettifer
Colourist: Chris Rodgers (Splice Post Production)
Production Manager: Bree Horn

BSB: What’s been most difficult?
JW:
Coming up with a production company name is pretty dry. I chanced across Able and Baker (the first two monkeys to be launched into space by the Americans in the 50s) in an inflight magazine on the way out to our first LA job with Remy and breathed a massive sigh of relief.

BSB: What’s been most surprising?
JW:
Uncontroversially, I think the most surprising thing has been the double award win at the YDAs! The timing was amazing, we were literally sending out the invites to the first birthday party when first one then a second email from the YDAs came through to let us know we'd won a prize. It's been an incredible year for us, we're really excited to see what our directors will do next.

BSB: What have you got your eyes set on next that you’re not doing right now?
JW:
The next big thing for us is long form factual content for broadcast. We've got a slate of projects being worked up for commission, there's one in particular we're really excited about which we've just attached Wellcome trust development finance to, hopefully coming soon to a small screen near you.

We've also been developing a digital strategy campaign with Ivana Bobic for a Russian couture department store we made a fashion film for last year. As film-makers this is a totally new way of working for us and while we'd be lying if we said there were times we didn't miss the mediating influence of an agency the scope to develop something bigger than a single stand alone film right from the ground up is pretty fantastic.