Davud Karbassioun on having the best job in the world
The Pulse Films president tells shots about the power of dreams and the importance of backing the right heroes.
As a young runner, Davud Karbussioun, now president of Pulse Films, always thought that a dream job would be supporting talent like Glazer, Gondry and co., then Ringan Ledwidge made his dreams come true.
This issue is, rightly, filled with a host of hugely talented directors and creatives that, over the years, have proved to be a cut above. But one man who is neither director nor creative but who has had a huge impact on the creative commercials industry is former BBH head of production and now global president of Pulse Films, Davud Karbassioun.
"If I could be in an industry working with and supporting people of that talent, I’d have the best job in the world."
Karbassioun started his career in the 90s as a runner organising the directors’ reel video library at Leagas Delaney, where he got the taste for filmmaking. “I remember watching the work of four filmmakers in particular,” he says, citing Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Jonathan Glazer and Chris Cunningham, “I immediately fell in love with it. It was at that point I realised that if I could be in an industry working with and supporting people of that talent, I’d have the best job in the world.”
Karbassioun went on to work at BBH, spending 15 years as, progressively, agency producer, head of film, managing partner and head of production, also helping to launch BBH’s in-house production arm, Black Sheep Studios. Through his time at BBH, Karbassioun was instrumental in continuing the agency’s lineage of expertly crafted films and built solid and successful relationships with some of the industry’s finest directors. The brilliant work he has had a hand in includes Lynx Gone Fishing, Levi’s Dangerous Liaison, Barnardo’s Life Story, The Guardian Three Little Pigs and Virgin 9.58 Seconds, to name but a few.
"I’ve just always backed the right people, the best people."
“My biggest hero is Ringan Ledwidge,” says Karbassioun, of the man who helmed three of the above five spots. “Without a doubt the most talented filmmaker I’ve worked with. I essentially built a career off the back of the work we made over my years at BBH.”
Despite being part of shots’ heroes issue, Karbassioun says, “I’ve never done anything heroic. I’ve just always backed the right people, the best people. The real heroes? I’ve either chosen to work for them or hired them. Simple. I’m working with two of them now at Pulse Films: Thomas Benski and Marisa Clifford [joint CEOs and founders].”
As for whether those creative heroes are still being bred today, Karbassioun thinks they are but that they have to decide – and be allowed – to take creative leaps. “I think anyone not taking risks is playing a part in making our industry that little bit shittier,” he says. “The one thing I’ve learned for sure about our industry is that no one really knows anything for sure. Embracing that is the key. In the words of another one of my heroes, Ice Cube; “If it ain’t hard, it’s weak.”