On My Radar: Dan O'Rourke
Dan O'Rourke, EP at Not to Scale, laments the love of speed, hails the BBC & reveals Derren Brown's naughty side.
What’s the best ad campaign you’ve seen recently?
John Kahrs’ film June [below], produced for the ride sharing business, Lyft. It’s a shining example of how powerful storytelling and animation craft can elevate branded content into branded entertainment.
Commissioned directly by Lyft, without an agency, the trust they placed in John as a director and his production company is refreshingly evident in every perfectly produced frame.
What website(s) do you use most regularly and why?
The BBC, when you travel, you realise how fortunate we are to have such a high quality tailor made news, sports and entertainment service at our finger tips. I’ve just figured out VPN, so a bit of the Today programme or Test Match Special soothes the soul if I’m ever missing tea and Tesco too much.
What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought and why?
As animation is a core part of our business we are always buying bits of tech to ensure that we keep up with the latest software and hardware capabilities. I’ve just been told we need to spend about £45,000 on new a storage/server thingymajig. It’s eye wateringly expensive at times.
What’s your favoured social media platform?
These days Facebook is like You’ve Been Framed, Instagram like 'you’ve been famed' and Twitter like 'you’ve been blamed'. I rotate, leaning more on Instagram, enjoying the creative aspect that it provides.
What’s your favourite app on your phone?
Spotify, please don’t ever leave me.
What’s your favourite TV show and why?
I only really watch dramas and pport. I can’t cook so I’m not a Bake Off, Master Chef sort of man. Drama-wise. I binge watched all of Homeland with my wife last year which is exceptional for its writing and performances. And I enjoyed The Crown recently for it’s high production values and peek behind the curtains.
What film do you think everyone should have seen and why?
I remember watching 12 Angry Men [below] with my father as a teenager and being quite affected. It’s impossible to watch that film without contemplating what can be gained by looking at the same problem from a different perspective.
We’re all guilty of having preconceptions about what the necessary solution might be to overcome any given obstacle. It’s a valuable life lesson, particularly for any budding producer.
Where were you when inspiration last struck?
At my laptop working on a pitch for Disney last week. As someone who has pitched films to clients for years, I’ve learned to find inspiration every day. What might appear as an idle scroll through Instagram, is a passive form of research, image surfing, so that, later, a cocktail of interesting ideas and imagery is more readily available to pour forth when the pitch needs to be delivered in an hour, and your proposal is still in need of a strong idea or two.
What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it?
My career spans the digitisation of film craft equipment, the advent of the internet and invention of the smart phone. All seismic events that are now intertwined and have changed how and what we will produce as commercial filmmakers forever.
If you could have told brands that one day everybody will be carrying a 16:9 TV around in their pockets and be glued to the screen, how they would have rubbed their hands and laughed, but nothing really changed on the film side.
Now, with so many channels, we are slowly starting to see brands understand they need to produce films with more complex stories that entertain and connect. Films like our recent work for Refuge for BBH London being produced to be devoured by the viewer, rather than force fed.
If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?
More time. Just because digital film tools have enabled the process to happen faster, does not mean that a film should always be made as fast as possible. Perhaps, in the more analogue era a schedule allowed you time to have ideas the whole way through the production and to constantly improve and craft a film, so that, like any longer form film, the work stood up to repeat viewing and intellectual scrutiny. Generally, I feel, the best work has still been given the appropriate production time.
What or who has most influenced your career and why?
St. Luke's showed me that a creative business could be a happy business if the management style was open and fairly non-hierarchical. Chris O’Reilly at Nexus showed me how creatively rewarding and intellectually stimulating producing animation could be.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.
I had the post-war record for being the most slippered boy at my prep school. This sounds ancient but I went to a very old fashioned school even though it was actually the 80s. I was sat on the naughty boy's table at lunch for about three years straight, with other naughty boys Darren Brown (now illusionist Derren Brown) and my friend Barnaby Coughlin, (now series director on First Dates). What a weird crew.