In general, do you think 2019 has been a good year for creative advertising?

Unfortunately, my answer to that question would be no. The way I see it, the standard of creativity falls every year. We still see a lot of agencies pushing for high-end creativity but then a lot of it gets levelled off because of budgets or client decisions that are often ruled by fear. Fear is creativity’s worst enemy. However, I must say that I did see some really nice campaigns this year.

The way I see it, the standard of creativity falls every year.

What piece or pieces of work have impressed you most over the last year?

I really loved the Mischa Rozema’s Playstation Now [below]. I was also very charmed by the style of Harmony Korine’s Gucci film, it made me feel nostalgic. And I also liked Virgin Amazing TV by Raine Allen-Miller.

Sony – Playstation Now

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How much of an impact does in-house agency production continue to have on the production sector?

Well, it’s a main concern, obviously, and I do feel that it’s one of the reasons the standard of creativity is falling, as I mentioned earlier. There is no denying that this evolution is destabilising the industry. When the main parameter to choose to work with a specific talent - be it a director, editor, musician or any other film craft talent - becomes a financial decision rather than a creative one, then it’s obvious that that is not a good evolution. 

There is no denying that this evolution is destabilising the industry.

Maybe it’s a bit perilous to say these things out loud, but transparency and candour is what we need in this industry. Of course, everyone is entitled to expand their business, I respect that, but choosing the money route over the creativity route is not the way to go in my opinion. Obviously, not all agencies are choosing to follow this path, and my respect goes out to the ones that know that good creativity needs the right talent, and right film craft people, to have the desired outcome.

Many production companies have expanded their own offerings to counteract the impact of agency in-house; is diversification necessary now to be competitive in the marketplace?

It’s a bit of a vicious circle isn’t it? More and more companies are becoming 360° model companies and are targeting other segments of the market which means that production companies will do the same and target the same clients. Will we soon see a situation where agencies and production companies will become competitors? It’ll lead to a lot of frustration if you ask me.

What do you think has been the biggest challenge facing European production companies this year? 

I would say the biggest challenge is to keeping yourself surrounded with the best people and keep delivering the best work under the conditions that are given. This year and the following years for that matter.

Do you think that challenge will be the same in 2020 or can you foresee other issues taking centre stage?

Well, yes, however I do feel there are other issues. Even if the digital revolution is an exciting one, I sometimes think that it has pushed clients toward media that made them lose their identity. I do notice brands are gradually returning to a way of working where we can make quality films again.

Which three words would you use to describe the current state of the production landscape?

I’d say competitive, volatile but also passionate. Always passionate.

What do you think the advertising’s New Year’s resolution should be?

To have a bit more trust, perhaps. Defend directors' visions and keep up the fight to get the very best out of the film projects.

What will be your own New Year’s resolution, work-related or otherwise?

On a personal level, stay happy and healthy and passionate. As I said before: always passionate.