Ad industry wisdom, cultural observations and personal musings from the Biscuit Boss.
In honour of the new season of Game of Thrones, Orlando Wood and I met at the John Snow on Broadwick Street. We ordered a few pints and got talking about just about everything. But with the sun shining down and almost making Soho feel like spring, I nearly didn’t notice that he had covered a million and one topics. We drank about two Sam Smith’s Pure Brewed Lagers before moving onto the Taddy Lager, although, in retrospect, I suspect Orlando may have substituted two of the last beers for shandies. Very sneaky…
“… I used to spend my childhood summers in London. My mum was from Dagenham and my dad from Newbury and although I was born in London, I was primarily raised in Florida. During the summers, My friends would stay in Florida. There was a significant lack of beaches and friends here. London always felt like it was thrust on me. But I’ve since come to love it and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else…”
“… I’m a World War II history buff and I love British history. My favourite place to go is the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. It really brings the reality of that history home. I wish I could have heard the phone conversations between FDR and Churchill – one confined to a wheelchair in the Oval Office, the other stuck in a tiny room underground while bombs fell. Just two old, confined men slowly righting the world…”
“… The Blitz mentality launched members’ clubs and, unfortunately, drove the rise of binge drinking. Obviously, you couldn’t have lights on outside, so people would get in multiple drinks before they were sent home. And members clubs were where you could drink after curfew because the members owned a bit of the building, it was considered the same as drinking at home…”
“… British pub culture is unique. I lived in Amsterdam for a while, where they like things to be gezellig – an atmosphere that allows good times to happen – so they serve beer in little 200ml fluitjes with a nice frothy head. I tend to drink shandies now to counteract the sheer volume of beer served here…”
“… I’ve recently become obsessed with Geordie Shore. I could just listen to that accent all day...”
“… The subtleties between American and British comedy are especially relevant in ads. American comedy can pitch a joke at the upper middle class and everybody either gets it or pretends to get it. In the UK people are more proud to be working class than middle class…”
“… Entertainment is hard. And advertising is hard. Branded entertainment is the hardest. So, I don’t think we should be that surprised that nobody’s cracked it yet. You have to move people emotionally while correctly positioning a product to try to change people’s habits…”
“… Without conflict you don’t have much of a story. The ad industry has a lot of craft to create a beautifully textural world, but sometimes we lack the ability to make that world seem alive…”
“… Advertising production companies need to prove they can do proper entertainment. We’ve been working on a remake of Watership Down with Noam Murro directing. It’s going to be on the BBC and it’ll be great. Hopefully that will be a good case study for Biscuit to demonstrate we can do pure entertainment…”
“… I can’t be cool in front of extremely talented people. For example Aaron Sorkin’s writing blows my mind. I met him at a screening and we had a good chat. But just as he was leaving I told him how big a fan I was. I was shaking his hand and just telling him how amazing he was. Eventually I stopped shaking his hand and was just holding it, still talking. I’m an idiot…”
“… I embarrassed myself when I met Terry Gilliam, too. I got talking with his wife, not knowing who her husband was until he walked in. At which point I just started listing his films at him. Yep, I’m still an idiot….”
“… Politicians fascinate me. The idea of dedicating your life to public service, to helping people, is amazing, whether you agree with how they go about it or not…”
“… I have an irrational annoyance whenever somebody sneezes more than twice. If someone sneezes once I say “bless you.” Twice and I’m like “is everything ok?” The third time I think “listen. If you need a moment you can take it!” I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s the most irrational thing about me. Well, that and my love of Geordie Shore…”
Orlando Wood is Executive Producer at Biscuit Filmworks UK.