Growing up in the lush Argentinian Pampas, Francisco Condorelli boasts he can ride a horse ‘like no one else’. These days though, you’re more likely to find him aboard an aeroplane than a horse as he zooms around the globe touching base with the global production community and organising dedicated craft festivals, Ciclope and Craften. As he gears up for next week’s Craften in Amsterdam, Laura Swinton caught up with Condorelli to talk production in the digital age and living like a giraffe.
LBB> Before you were involved in advertising and production you were a journalist. What prompted the move and how did you get there?
FC> Long story short, I was born in a small town a few hours away from Buenos Aires. I spent my entire childhood there, before moving to Buenos Aires aged about 17 to start studying. After six months or less, I realised I didn’t want to do that, so I went travelling. Afterwards I went back to Buenos Aires to get a job as an office boy at a big publishing house and suddenly realised that there was this big universe I’d never heard of before – the advertising industry.
Someone at the company suggested we start a magazine – but we had no knowledge of how to publish one. We ended up launching G7, which still exists and is now quite popular in Argentina. It was sort of like Life. One of the topics we covered was advertising and that’s why I started travelling around, visiting different festivals. I realised that there was a void. There were a thousand festivals out there but all of them were the same. They covered agencies and ideas in different formats. I realised that there was something missing – there was no recognition for the production side. I think the execution is just as important as the idea. I couldn’t understand why that side of the industry was being ignored. Someone had to take the first step, and that first step was Ciclope.
LBB> You’ve been involved in quite a few different areas in your time, and have run events across several creative disciplines and industries – you must be quite a curious personality.
FC> You’re like my psychiatrist! I’m quite a curious person, but publishing is quite a hard business and you have to find alternative ways to keep going. Events is an interesting area for publishing houses. We publish a few different titles and working in magazines gives you a wide perspective. We covered art, design, literature and sport, as well as advertising – that gave me the opportunity to dive into different disciplines, different universes. I think every universe has its own richness. I was very curious and I still am.
LBB> Over the years you’ve been involved in Ciclope, what has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned working with people in production?
FC> This industry lives on creating brands and basically trying to convince companies to invest more in their brand. But there are some production companies that are still not convinced about investing in their own brands. I think some production companies still need to understand the importance of having the recognition and respect of the wider community.
LBB> Why did you decide to start a festival in Europe?
FC> We are doing this to expand the spirit of the festival, to honour and celebrate the craft. We need to create a culture around it. If the agencies or clients don’t realise the importance of craft, what will then happen to the quality of what we see on TV and the internet?
Craft is more important today than it ever has been because of the digital revolution. People decide what to watch and what to avoid. If you don’t have good craft, people won’t share what you do, so it’s just a waste of your time and money. That’s the reason behind the expansion - we want to spread and keep spreading the importance of craft in the business.
LBB> And why was Amsterdam the perfect location?
FC> Well, I really like the city! It’s a city with a lot of positive aspects. There’s a lot of international clients based here, a lot of international agencies. The size of the market is quite small but in terms of creativity it’s amazing. They have Sid Lee, Wieden Amsterdam, 180 and all the others. It’s probably the most international city in Europe. The UK is London, Germany is Berlin or Hamburg, and France is very Parisien. There are people from all over the world in Amsterdam. Geographically it’s very centrally located too.
LBB> In terms of the programme next week, what are you looking forward to?
FC> I’m really happy with the feedback we’re getting from the entire advertising community. We have people coming from Italy, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, the UK, Spain, Czech Republic… I’m really looking forward to seeing all these people in one place, discussing craft. Then we will have some very interesting parties, boat parties, the Massive Music party… I think it will be a lot of fun.
LBB> The last couple of years have been quite hard for production and post-houses, especially because of budgets. From the people you’ve spoken to, do you get the impression that things are still pretty tough or is there some optimism?
FC> I think there’s no option but to be positive. I think times are changing, especially with the digital revolution. If you are a production company and you don’t learn how to ride this new wave you will be in trouble, but if you adapt your company to the changing landscape you will be fine. I am very positive about the future of production and the future of craft. Why? Because there are so many new channels, and that, in turn, demands more and more production, more filmmakers.
LBB> Which countries and markets do you think are doing particularly strong or interesting work in terms of craft?
FC> Well, I think each country has its own personality. I don’t want to be obvious and say London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam. I think there are other countries doing cool things – Swedish directors are very interesting. It’s about personal taste at the same time. I really like English directors and I really like the British craft. I think Latin America has fresher points of views and aesthetics, and I think emerging markets can bring something new to the table.
LBB> Outside of work, what are your passions?
FC> I don’t know – I feel like I’m working 24 hours a day! By that I mean thinking – not necessarily answering emails. I try to spend time with my girlfriend and dog. I like being quiet and being in nature, which makes me feel well I think. Seeing friends and family – regular and ordinary things like that. There’s a saying I heard recently that says ‘you should live like a giraffe, with your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds’. I like that. Try to keep that, try to be close to family and friends. This business will take you and sweep you up in an unstoppable rhythm – it’s important to find balance.
LBB> So Craften is next week – what are your plans for the rest of the year?
FC> I will spend a couple of months here in Amsterdam, just living. Then I’ll be at the AICP and Cannes.
This year we’re working on a very special edition of Ciclope dedicated to Brazil. We’ll be inviting 30 of the most influential people from the Brazilian market – Coca Cola, Fiat, Almap BBDO. I’ll be spending a lot of time going between Sao Paolo and Buenos Aires to set that up.
There’s a huge interest in Brazil because of the Olympics and World Cup, so as a festival we want to help attendees gain real insight from industry leaders to understand the Brazilian market. It’s a massive market but it’s not easy to work in because it’s quite protectionist. For example, if you come to Amsterdam and want to shoot it’s quite straightforward but in Brazil there are lots of laws to protect the national industry. So we think that Ciclope could be really helpful to people.