It’s easy these days to call yourself a director. Just as everyone with a smart phone is a ‘photographer', modern technology has meant ‘making films’ is a doddle.
Consumers are directors, as are celebrities, YouTubers, even Instagramming kids. But whilst access for all is great, and a welcome progression, true talent is still a rare commodity. What’s exciting about the modern advertising landscape is the opportunity for genuine new talent to play a part.
More often than not, talent-discovery is about keeping an eye out for something special, something that lifts you emotionally or aesthetically.
Evolving forms of communication, channels and tone of voice - coupled, of course, with ever-tightening budgets - require a fresh mindset. I personally love digging around for this. Like others, You Are Here is approached by directors who like what we're doing and are keen to join the team but, more often than not, talent-discovery is about keeping an eye out for something special, something that lifts you emotionally or aesthetically and has true commercial potential. This is the life-blood of the industry’s future and what personally makes me tick.
Above: Your Are Here's Jeremy Goold.
There is an exciting wave of filmmakers coming through at the moment, including a few we are lucky enough to have signed, such as The Fridman Sisters, who are siblings from Sao Paulo, and fellow YDA winners, Twintaoers. Both are transcending stereotypes and looking at the world with a fresh lens. I think production companies have to look for a confidence and maturity in a director's work and an inherent talent for filmmaking and storytelling.
In the rush to offer clients quicker and cheaper production solutions, engaging a director has become - to many short-term thinkers - like hiring a handyman.
The prevailing winds have eroded respect for directing talent as the advertising world has changed, and in the rush to offer clients quicker and cheaper production solutions, engaging a director has become - to many short-term thinkers - like hiring a handyman. It’s sad but that’s the landscape we’re in now. That said, I’m an eternal optimist, and all is far from lost!
True directing talent will prove to be king because, at the end of the day, if you want your ad to stand out, who are you going to rely on?
Personally, I believe the current free-for-all will settle down as the new dynamic of future production slowly finds its natural resting point. And in this process, true directing talent will prove to be king because, at the end of the day, if you want your ad to stand out, who are you going to rely on? A self-shooting gun for hire with limited experience and talent (but apparently good value), or a creatively-unique craftsman whose carefully nurtured talent and production support always provides a far higher chance of marketing effectiveness?
We need to get back to a playing field where talent is restored and valued again.
At You Are Here we have a dedicated food division called RARE, and what we’ve detected is that there is a growing wave of new filmmaking talent who are fusing their love of food with their love of film. What was previously a bit of a closed-door world, dominated by a handful of comfortable formula-peddlers, has been shaken up by a new generation of Instagram-feeding foodies, fired up by the fusion of the ‘Three Fs’: food, film and photography.
When you create a collective of unique talent, they all feed off each other and grow.
It’s a curiously un-developed genre in my opinion. There’s so much more we can all be doing to shake it up. There’s no shortage of home-grown directors putting out perfectly respectable 5D-shot recipe films, but very few have a unique tone of voice and a flare for storytelling, so that’s what we set out to find and nurture. When you create a collective of unique talent, they all feed off each other and grow.
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Above: Tony Kaye's Dunlop Unexpected.
In order to protect incoming filmmakers, talent-commissioners need to take a few more risks. Throw in a wildcard to every pitch. Take inspiration from Free The Bid/Free The Work, which has done so much to open eyes and look to embrace talent from unconventional backgrounds. Recent conservatism has desperately diluted originality in our industry. A real cause for dismay, I feel, especially for those of us old enough to remember the glory days of wildly innovative talent like Tony Kaye and Jonathan Glazer.
In order to protect incoming filmmakers, talent-commissioners need to take a few more risks.
Giving a voice to the next generation of free-thinking filmmakers is the only way to ensure progression and originality. It’s almost a cultural duty, and the more we can do to challenge conformity the better.