The One-Eyed Monster Grows

September 19, 2016 / Features

By Alex Reeves

A catch-up with CICLOPE’s founder on where the festival is heading in its seventh year.

It’s hard to start something new in the crowded space of advertising festivals and award shows. The only way is to carve out a space between the gaps the others have left. That’s exactly what Francisco Condorelli has done over the past seven years.

Starting in his home city of Buenos Aires, Francisco started CICLOPE – an international festival of craft that celebrates and tries to understand the talent that goes into the best moving image.

On 3rd and 4th November the festival hits Berlin for its fourth year in its European incarnation. We caught up with its creator to find out what direction he’s taking it in.

The Beak Street Bugle: What is the main focus of CICLOPE this year?

Francisco Condorelli: I think there’s something really interesting going on, which is a crossover between music videos, brands and short films. CICLOPE lets the producers, directors, musicians and brands meet. As a festival we want to reflect that the boundaries are blurring a bit.

We have people coming from all those areas and we will have talks on that - the people who have made it talking about how they did it and why.

Then there’s what’s happening with the show as well – this convergence between advertising, film, music, etc. We’re inviting a lot more people from feature films and Hollywood. We have a couple of people like Mark Woollen, who you might not have heard of but he is actually one of the most talented directors in Hollywood. He makes trailers. His first trailer he made when he was 21 and it was for Schindler’s List. Fuck, man.

[He’s also done] Spotlight, Birdman, The Social Network, Batman v Superman, all these huge blockbusters. Trailers are about synthesis. I think that’s interesting for the advertising industry to hear about.

I’m curious about it. It might not be easy to sell to Stephen Spielberg what you’re going to do to his film. But what I’ve heard is there is a play between them and the studio, who is in the middle negotiating that with the director. I think it’s a huge job to come up with something that shows a little but not too much and doesn’t overpromise.

We have this guy called Sebastian Schipper [speaking at the festival], the German director who recently made Victoria – this one-take film. From an artistic point of view it was very interesting and he has an advertising background. He’s going to talk about how to keep the balance between commercial commitments and client commitments. And then there’s the APA presenting Jani Guest talking about Kidspiration [an online channel created for and powered by kids, created by the production company Independent].

Another speaker I’m excited about is Thomas Punch, who is the Global ECD of Vice Media. They own Pulse Films now, so it’s going to be a conversation between him and [Pulse CEO and co-founder] Thomas Benski about brands, content, why they made this partnership, which I think says a lot about what’s going on.

The TV and film industry don’t really respect the advertising industry, I feel. I think everyone deserves respect and I think they should because there are always opportunities for them there. Advertising is not just making shampoo commercials, especially today. The recent Spike Jonze work [for Kenzo] is an incredible example of that. I’m sure that he feels very proud of it as a filmmaker and that possibility is something that the advertising industry has given to him and is willing to give to a lot of other directors.

It’s a good moment for the film and TV industry to be more friendly with the advertising industry. Directors are directors. It doesn’t matter if they’re working on a TV commercial, or a TV series or a film. And you’re probably sick of hearing that, but it’s true.

BSB: What changes have you made to the awards?

FC: We have a different set up but we’re awarding the same kind of work – commercials, short films, music videos and now VR, that’s the new thing. It’s definitely happening so we definitely have to do it.

Most of the companies have experimented with VR lately. Some of them have done a lot of work, some just a few. But everyone does some VR now. I think the issue with VR is it’s difficult to see what other people are doing because you can’t see it online. You need to download an app and each experience has its own device etc.

I think it’s an interesting opportunity not only for people to showcase what they’re doing and expose their work to a qualified audience but also as a benchmark. It’s a way of understanding the quality of the work that’s being produced.  I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of the VR category this year.

BSB: What other trends are you responding to in the festival?

FC: It’s going to be a special year for music videos as well. There’s something very interesting happening with music videos lately. Ringan Ledwidge’s video for Massive Attack, The Chemical Brothers work from The Mill, Up&Up for Coldplay from Prettybird and Beyonce’s Formation video. Even the Spike Jonze Kenzo film. That is is basically a commercial or fashion film, but the music and choreography is so powerful that it looks like a music video.

BSB: Having started in Buenos Aires, you’ve been in Berlin for several years now. Why is it the right city for CICLOPE?

FC: I think people enjoy going to Berlin. It’s Germany, so it’s a very powerful market and economy. You’ve got all the car manufacturers for example. And it’s a cool city. The vibe is interesting. And it’s very cosmopolitan. Like the New York of Germany.

For people in London it’s a nice escape while still being close. Germany has a very interesting heritage and film-wise it’s a prestigious spot. Berlin is the most creative city in Germany. People go to Berlin just to show off. They make money in the south and they put offices in Berlin. You can’t avoid having a Berlin branch if you want to be cool.

BSB: What have been the biggest challenges each year?

FC: Every year you have a different challenge. Things that were difficult, like making people understand the importance of submitting their work and being involved, are now no longer an issue for us. People understand why they should invest money and time in festivals of craft like this. So the challenges now are about bringing better people every year. The better the people, the higher the bar is.

My job is to bring to the table the most interesting content possible, because people don’t have time. People don’t want to hear bullshit and people are paying me to do that, which means delivering the best content ever, creating a frame for people to meet people and helping people to see where everything is going to help the people who work in this industry to understand.  We need to find the people who are doing things differently.

I think we’re on the top of the global advertising industry. The next step for us is to be on the top of the bigger industry, which is TV and film. It’s more difficult because it has different standards. So I hope to get the attention of that somehow.

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