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FAMILIA: ‘Modern Content is the Perfect Storm’

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As a union of directors and photographers, FAMILIA has the contemporary edge to challenge the traditional and make content that connects brands with the cultural zeitgeist

FAMILIA: ‘Modern Content is the Perfect Storm’

Hailing from all corners of the world, including South Africa, Portugal, the UK, Iran and India, FAMILIA may not be blood-related but they certainly work like a cohesive family unit. With a team of accomplished directors and a growing pool of skilled photographers, the leading-edge talent in this family is their unifying factor. Over the past eight years, the East London-based production company has racked up an impressive portfolio, working with huge budgets for commercials and a client list of brands, artists and fashion houses including the likes of Guinness, Adidas, EA, British Vogue and Booking.com.

With a keen eye for tapping into contemporary culture, influential people and global trends, their enviable roster quickly picked up attention in the industry. Directing duo Animals are making waves since working with the likes of Apple Music and Sprite; Milan based Saku, selected for 2015 Cannes Young Director Award can count projects with Mercedes, Coca-Cola, Reebok and Sky in his portfolio; explorative storyteller Adriaan Louw whose compelling style has been used for Nike, Adidas and Vans campaigns as well as a recent music video for Major Lazer; and David East who has worked with international celebrities such as Christiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Anthony Joshua. 

We sit down with founding partners, Craig Moore, Francis Wallis and Sashinski (Sasha Nathwani), and executive producer Toby Walsham. The team talk about the music videos that made them, their deep roots in Africa and the reason the video content revolution has been the perfect storm for their growth.

It was in 2014, at a time when advertising was beginning to break away from its traditional content, that the three directors joined forces. Having crossed paths as young filmmakers, Craig, Francis and Sasha tell us they spotted an opportunity to drive their own futures forward - if they could open their own production company. Each with their fingers firmly on the pulse of youth culture, they foresaw a different future in commercial content that ultimately led to FAMILIA’s conception.

Hailing from Framestore, fourth partner and executive producer, Toby Walsham, completed the core team in 2017, bringing his expertise in advertising to help FAMILIA reach bigger projects with much bigger budgets. “I was really intrigued by FAMILIA’s quality of work and what they are capable of achieving, even within trickier budgets. I could see that they had the foundations to grow rapidly and handle exciting new commercial projects,” Toby remembers. “I really wanted to be a part of that energy and challenge.”


Adidas, directed by Elle Ginter


Guinness Africa - Kenya, directed by David East

The transition into advertising grew organically as the team were called upon to employ their zeitgeist-driven film skills for brands. Sasha describes: “We were doing great creative work that was resonating with millions of people, so brands were attracted to us. We hit this crossroad where music met sport met fashion so we did quite a few spots for Adidas and Puma which then developed into working further within fashion and lifestyle.”


On Running directed by ANIMALS


TRACKERS, directed by Francis Wallis

This year, the company introduced photography to its portfolio, headed by agent and producer Chris Cowan who has worked with some of the biggest names in fashion, sports and luxury brands. Francis says: “We knew such a great network of photographers that we were inspired to set up a photography branch for FAMILIA. More often than not these days, brands benefit hugely from additional photography and stills work. If you can maximise time on set and also acquire a suite of print or social assets, they can massively extend their reach and budget! Many directors claim they can crossover between the two worlds easily, but Chris, with his experience, has really helped us curate a roster of world-class photography talent that helps us provide something unique for our clients.”

PUMA x Helly Hansen, photo by Adriaan Louw

Alpha Tauri SS19, Ollie Ali

Looking back, FAMILIA’s now multi-million pound business came from humble beginnings. Craig tells us that it was his debut music video, The Renegade, that led them to their first major award: a UKMVA for Best Dance Newcomer. “We never let a challenging budget hinder our creativity,” Sasha explains. “The Renegade was produced for under £5k which we managed to achieve through our international offering. We encourage out-of-the-box, flexible thinking and creativity should be even stronger when it comes to budget constraints, rather than being the first thing that gets written off.” 

Tapping into Craig’s South African roots, the video was shot in Cape Town, where FAMILIA also still hold an office. Craig adds: “Everyone knows how amazing Cape Town is as a shoot destination over the UK winter months, but we shoot there all-year round and keep an office there. Not only does Cape Town have everything in abundance; amazing textures, beautiful light and vibrant subcultures to collaborate with, but it is also a great base to have when looking at shooting anywhere in Africa. Even with the costs of flights, the set-up we have here means that we can often work out more cost-efficient solutions than in Europe.”


That Superdrug Feeling - directed by Craig Moore. This Superdrug commercial was shot in studio in South Africa. FAMILIA’s creative budget solutions and connections to South Africa meant it was a preferable option for the client and agency to shoot with them in Cape Town than on home turf in the UK and Europe. 


Like Craig, Sasha also helped carve a path within the music world for FAMILIA. Sashinski’s highly stylised and narrative-driven videos have clocked up millions of YouTube hits along with three consecutive Best Video nominations at the Brit Awards, whilst Francis’ cinematic approach attracts international artists such as Naughty Boy, Blossoms and Birdy.


Forever (PtII) - Snakehips, directedby Sashinski


“Music videos really helped us get our foot in the door and are a great showcase for our creativity,” says Francis, “But the reality of owning a business in London and ensuring its future is that you eventually need to tap into the commercial world.” 

AlphaTauri - People of the New Sun,directed by Barnabas Wilhelm

Reflecting on the changing trends in content production,Sasha says: “There is so much potential for what can be done with the demand for mass content on the rise. For us, it’s a perfect storm.”

On the future of mass content, Francis adds: “These are great times for diversity which we endeavour to include in our projects. In advertising we are seeing more briefs about bringing people together and correcting the male and female balance - all good things that are being pushed in ways that they haven’t been in the past. We get asked questions about what the dynamic is within our own company and we’ve never been asked those sorts of questions before. People are definitely more conscious of it now.”

Craig is also excited about how this has changed briefs.“It’s exciting to see more and more clients sign off on non-conventional casts because those types of characters really give a film weight.”

Digging into the reasons behind the name FAMILIA, it’s clear the team have a close-knit relationship. They tell us that a diverse pool of creative talent is what keeps them contemporary.

“At FAMILIA we value everyone’s opinion,” says Craig. “It doesn't matter whether an idea comes from a director, a runner or a producer -anyone can share their creative input. It’s so important to gather creativity from a diverse pool, and especially with music videos, young people seem to have good knowledge of what resonates. So, although we have a lot of experienced talent at our agency, we ensure that we balance that out with youthful energy too.”

“FAMILIA has great taste in people,” Toby adds. “We’ve been open for several years now so although we ourselves may not be that relatively young anymore, we hire great up-and-coming talent, so we’re surrounded by a team of amazing people who keep us culturally relevant.”

Craig summarises: “We’ve got industry experts leading the team and we install high standards, but we also place emphasis on energy and fun. We don’t take anything for granted and we remind ourselves of that even when times are stressful. It’s amazing to see how people come together to create great work. We’ve had a lot of repeat business from it and it’s great that people want to come back to share that experience with us.”

With exciting new signings and a few top-secret projects on the horizon, FAMILIA is definitely one to watch. Disrupting the industry’s traditions with fresh ideas and innovative production, they truly deliver on their unofficial motto: “let’s make some noise”.


FAMILIA is a family of content makers and image takers who think big, box clever and shoot smart.Their bloodline is rooted in the creative cracks between advertising, music,fashion and film, where culture meets commerce. Learn more about FAMILIA here.

Contact: Toby Walsham - toby@wearefamilia.com.

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FAMILIA, Thu, 16 Jan 2020 12:22:43 GMT