Defining great film craft – especially in an age of seemingly endless film media – is an increasingly tricky challenge. But we think that Diane McArter, fittingly the jury president of the 2018 Film Craft category at Cannes Lions, may have nailed it in beautifully poetic fashion. “The best work transcends the mundane and elevates into the magical and mysterious through the unseen hand of the master,” she says. “The work no longer belongs to the craftsperson; it has formed an empathetic connection with the beholder.”
Diane is also the founder and president of production company Furlined. LBB’s Addison Capper picked her brains.
LBB> How are you preparing yourself for your time in the jury room at Cannes?
DM> I really love being part of a jury. The insights and opinions of other jurors often challenge your preconceived beliefs and lead to new understandings. And then there’s the camaraderie that comes along with being sequestered for such a long time. I’m really looking forward to it.
LBB> What are you hoping to see from the entries this year? How has the pre-judging been going so far?
DM> We tend to think of craft as skilfulness, know-how and technical ability – the making of something that has value. And yet, there’s an added dimension to that value. The best work transcends the mundane and elevates into the magical and mysterious through the unseen hand of the master. The work no longer belongs to the craftsperson; it has formed an empathetic connection with the beholder.
Pre-judging can seem a bit overwhelming at first, given the volume of entries to consider. But that fades quickly once you immerse yourself in the wonderful work that is submitted from all over the world.
LBB> What words of advice will you be giving to your jury?
DM> I have shared our ultimate mandate – to determine what constitutes excellence in craft. Skill. Knowledge. Dedication. It’s beauty that takes your breath away.
There’s also a deeper dimension and meaning of craft. Human relationships and communities are also built through craftsmanship. Advertising is about relationships, creating connections and cultivating an empathetic connection with the audience. Our job, as representatives on the Film Craft jury, is to recognise the work that rises to this level of excellence.
I also reminded them to bring warm socks and scarves for the dark and cold judging rooms.
LBB> You have touched on this slightly already, but in your president’s message you’ve said that winners in your category will demonstrate beautiful craft but also “the search for real meaning, truth and empathetic connection”. Can you elaborate on the importance of that please?
DM> The purpose of all great art is to uplift and expand the way we see ourselves, others and the world around us. I’ve invited my jury to consider the art in craft, its expressive implications and the skill that goes into it. The best work is much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s alchemy.
LBB> The film craft category has been shaken up a lot in recent years - there was the rise of mobile and increased data usage, then more recently the wave of new platforms that film is being created for, such as VR, 360, etc. In your opinion, what are the biggest factors affecting film craft right now and how will you deal with them in the jury room?
DM> We’ll always be integrating more technological advances – like VR and 360 – into the realm of advertising. What makes a great piece of content, however, will remain as constant as ever because the aim remains the same – to connect and form a deep connection with the audience.
LBB> The transcendent ‘big’ ideas are relatively easy enough to spot, but some work is smart in a more nuanced way, for example work that plays on the subtleties of a particular culture (the challenges of writing copy in Chinese might be different to writing in English or French, for example). When you’re leading a jury, how do you give space to these ideas in the jury room?
DM> A diverse jury helps to provide context and nuance, to open a dialogue and ensure that we are taking cultural distinctions into consideration. In the end, it is the emotion and humanity that prevail, crossing borders and breaking barriers.
LBB> What do you think will be the big talking points at this year’s festival?
DM> I’m always keen to attend the keynote and as many sessions as possible. Looking at the speakers who are headlining this year’s festival – from Thandie Newton to Ellen Pompeo and Tyler Perry – it looks like diversity and equality are going to be central themes. These are important themes for the world in general at this moment in time, and for advertising in particular.
LBB> How will you be spending the rest of your time in Cannes? Are there any events or talks you’re eager to attend?
DM> Warming up in the sun after seven days sequestered away in a cold, dark room judging...