Q&A with Gideon Amichay, Chief Creative Officer at Y&R
Tell us a bit about your role?
As Chief Creative Officer, my job is to provide the right climate for creativity [and] to make sure my creatives know that anything is possible. I make an environment that generates ideas and remove the bad ideas, assisting in the production of the good ones. The way people think and how they can break the mold and not follow the crowd inspires me. I started off as a cartoon artist and then got offered a job as a creative director and I see a lot of similarities between the two. It is about the client seeing within the first second if they like the work, as well trends constantly changing and ways to tell stories in an inspiring way.
Which aspects of your country’s culture stand out in the advertising? Is there a genre of work that your city is known for?
The work done at Y&R stands out because it is groundbreaking with regards to exploring ways to communicate that can be translated beyond language and internationally. The campaign in Rabin Square before Rosh Hashanah last year was innovative and had such an impact on the whole country and beyond.
Are there any issues you often come up against working on creative in your country?
With it being a small market, the recession has just made for more creative ideas to be pushed, which is a good thing.
Are the majority of the agencies in your city part of global networks?
Whereas most agencies in Israel are within the Israeli market, YR is a global brand.
Is your agency international in outlook or is most of your work specific to your country?
Our work is made for the market in Tel Aviv, but because of its quality it has outreach to the international market on its own merit. It is not specifically targeted to the global market but becomes such and there are collaborations with other countries and markets when appropriate.
Is it important to the work you do at your agency that a local director shoot the spot in order to capture subtle cultural nuances?
It is important that the right director for the job does the work. Generally speaking if it is an Israeli job then the turnover is very fast and so familiarity of the director and company is important to assure the client is happy with the job, however on international work or a job where there is specifically something to be discovered it is a matter of finding the right director for the job.
What value do you put on winning awards? And which are more important, awards for creativity or effectiveness?
They go hand in hand. If a creative wants to work with me, I could ask what they want in 5 years and if they say: “I want to win an award” then I cannot hire them. Our work is not about winning the awards, It is about changing the world. The awards are a reflection of the work we do. They, go hand in hand with the effectiveness of a campaign alongside the creativity, working together.
What do you look for when hiring for your agency?
I look for people who want to change the world and who have ideas that break the mold.
Does a recession call for stronger creativity to counter lower budgets? Have you seen that during this recent economic downturn?
Stronger creativity and the recession has been the best thing for our industry because people have had to be more adventurous and ambitious with their ideas and not just rely on their budgets.
Ilan Bouni – CCO at Gravity
What makes Gravity unique?
We are an international creative, design, animation and effects company, with two centres, situated in Tel Aviv and New York City. The group's operations through its LA and Connecticut branches are also handled in New York.
With Gravity’s distinctive ‘east meets west’ position, with Israel between Europe and Asia, and all the way up to the hectic streets of Manhattan, we enjoy both eastern and western influences and sources of inspiration. We bring a unique flavour to each project and easily bridge over cultural differences whilst maintaining the highest standards.
So in a true global sense, our clients originate from all continents, our creative team arrive to distinct locations in the most exotic sites across the globe, and our offices work in collaboration in order to share resources and creative ideas. Our clients range from producers of feature films and episodic television to agencies and creators of emerging media and marketing worlds. The results are commercials and advertising content, where we facilitate brands to drive meaningful, dynamic messaging and imagery.
Gravity is responsible for the creation of a variety of new, innovative worlds that become very successful for our clients, such as the recent creation of the imaginative world for the telecom company Pelephone, where we conceived a new reality and continued to develop it through a series of 15 commercials.
We also created fantasy worlds for Yoplait’s dairy delight for infants, which are based on a stylized paper reality, utilizing cardboard and paper characters with live action faces of kids. The visual translation of the nonsensical childish rhymes constructed a strong comical identity complementing the name of the product which is based on combination of the words ‘nonsense’ and ‘rhymes’.
What kit are you running in your facility?
We have a strong belief in human equity, and we make it our mission to preserve the ‘boutique-ish’ approach and maintain a personal touch with our clients. Our facility includes an art & design studio, an animation studio, editing suites, and VFX and compositing suites. We are able to handle and control the entire post production process from start to finish, including original music composting.
Per our preferred tools, we use Autodesk Maya for most 3D work and Autodesk Flame as our main compositing platform. We also use Nuke, Fusion, After Effects and Flash according to the task we are facing and try to keep our pipeline flexible enough to be able to incorporate new tools and methods as they are developed, as well as answer each project’s special needs.
Also, we have established a dedicated task force to address the growing interest in 3D Stereoscopic commercials, despite them still not commonly supported in homes. In the past year we created several Stereoscopic commercials, which aired on cinemas, TV and on the Internet.
What is the typical length of a TV spot? Is there a hero 60” with cutdowns?
We work with formats ranging from 45-60 seconds commercials, plus cut downs, to 30 seconds format for commercials (with cut downs to:15 and :10). This obviously depends on the market we are aiming for at that time.
Are your clients mainly production companies or agencies?
We enjoy the diversity of the clients we attract, such as advertising agencies, production companies, gaming companies and marketers. We may gain new projects by securing international or local bids or are approached by companies who came across our work and handpicked us.
A recent example of a ''walking'' client was the Swiss dairy company Emmi. This on going series of commercials is based on our CG design and revival of typical Swiss forest animals, including marmots, squirrels, birds and butterflies in a forest environment. They were designed realistically but with an added twist, and then incorporated into live footage that was shot in a forest in Switzerland. It was given the same “treatment”, resulting in a fairytale look and feel.
Which award shows and events does your company participate in?
We take active part in international events and festivals. Recent years’ achievements include - Cannes Lions, Epica, One Show, New York Festival, SIGGRAPH , Telly and Mobius. In same spirit, we will be participating in this year's Cannes Lions.
Meirav Vizer – Manager @ Ooops Films
Can you tell us about your city and why people should come to shoot?
Tel Aviv has nearly everything you need when traveling to another country to shoot, such as beaches, very nice urban places and streets, parks and hi-tech compounds. It also has a big selection of excellent restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs. It is a 24/7 city, which makes you want to stay there. This is the main reason Tel Aviv was chosen by the Time Out magazine as one of the best cities in the world.
Is there a production association in your city and are you a member?
We have a producer association (Israel Film and TV Producers Association www.mefikim.co.il), one for commercial producers and one for feature film producers.
What, if any, safety issues should foreign productions shooting in your country be aware of?
There are no special safety issues that foreign productions should be aware of.
How varied and adaptable are your locations? And how far would someone need to travel to get to them?
Israel is a small country. Our locations will be between half hour to 2.5 hours drive from Tel Aviv. Eilat will be a one-hour flight from Tel Aviv or 3.5 to 4 hours drive from Tel Aviv to Eilat, which is as far as you can go.
Does your region have film studios? Is your region known for its locations or studios?
It has two big film studios. Our region is known mainly for the historical locations such as Jerusalem, Dead Sea, and Sea of Galilee, but also for our lovely beaches, for example the Red Sea and diving resort of Eilat. Also the Orange orchards, Wheat fields, agriculture and farms.
How easy is it to crew up locally? Is there any shortage of talented staff? How do you handle this?
All crew is available locally. Everyone works as freelance, and once a job is confirmed we will call our crew to crew up.
What jobs have you worked on recently?
Tymbark – Pro Production – JAREK. Kvas – Action films – Oksana Gil. Wasa – Alexia Gamba Italy.
What is the proximity of airports to you and how does that work for those flying internationally?
Ben Gurion Airport is about 30 minutes to 40 minutes drive from Tel Aviv and all international flights depart from and arrive to it. There are daily flights to almost all European, American and Asian locations.
We arrange a VIP service for all our clients, so once the aircraft has landed and the passenger goes outside the air craft, a stewardess will wait with his/her name on a board and escort him/her to the passport control and then to the arrival hall to meet the production driver and car.
Where does the majority of your work come from?
Poland, Russia, Italy, Ukraine.
Is casting fairly easy to look after?
Yes, there are a few casting directors, and yes there are a variety of languages and nationalities.
Ooops can manage all of your travel arrangements and provide a production office.
Dror Nimcowicz – Executive Producer @ Rabel
Tell us a bit about your company and what makes it unique?
We are a production company specialising in commercials and we have a documentary and feature film division. Director, Nirit Yaron, and producer, Amit Dekel, own the company.
Rabel produces more than 60 commercials a year, both in Israel and overseas, for Israel's largest advertisers and advertising companies. We are also successful in developing content for TV series, producing the documentary series "Couplehood" for which Keshet has already acquired the rights for the second season.
What makes it unique is that we produce in many countries by which it comes to learn and see the process of productions in other countries with different mentality and different work attics and we try and pick from each country the best and import it into our way of service.
How challenging is it to develop a young director in your country?
As usual it is very hard to push a young talent in the commercial market, especially in Israel because it is such a small market. As always the clients and agencies are conservative and are hesitant to put a big budget on a young director with little experience. At the same time, if you look 5 years backwards and what we have today, we have about 5 strong new directors that were not in the market 5 years ago.
Is it important that a local director shoot a spot for broadcast in your country in order to capture cultural nuances and be sensitive to any issues that might offend?
Generally the answer is yes. To deal with local culture, language and humour it is better to have a local Director. But for scripts with international ideas, foreign directors can direct them.
Do you find other territories calling upon your directors?
Yes, Israeli directors have been working in foreign territories for the past 10 years.
Are production companies in your country doing work directly with the client and bypassing the agency?
Yes. Many big clients have signed agreements directly with production companies in Israel. It's not instead of working with the agencies, but the production company is more involved in the process. Also, a direct contract that the client is signing with the production company saves them money on the production process.
What is the spot that your company worked on that you are most proud of from the past year or so? Tell us about the shoot.
The Bank Leumi project. It's an interactive TV Internet commercial, which runs on the Internet for about 3 minutes and on TV for one minute. On the Internet you can choose which way the plot will go. This was an interesting project to be involved in the development and producing.
How varied and adaptable are your locations? Do you have a peak shooting season?
Basically we shoot all year round. There are no winter or weather limitations. Of course there are locations that are easier to shoot in the curtain period of the year, for example, Israeli airport will not allow shooting during July and August due to the summer holidays volume of work.