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Meet the Creative Production Studio Unlocking the UK’s Best Upcoming Directing Talent

Trends and Insight 382 Add to collection

Scottish creative production studio, Eyebolls, wants to keep things fresh and exciting with a unique approach to championing upcoming directors

Meet the Creative Production Studio Unlocking the UK’s Best Upcoming Directing Talent

Still from Food Waste, produced for the Scottish Government

Nestled in Constitution Street in Edinburgh, production company Eyebolls has been quietly carving a name for itself in the animation and commercial worlds. Relatively young, the company is only four years old but has quickly been racking up work in everything from commercials, to digital content and long form TV series. Their ethos is centered around grabbing eyes: thrilling them, making them laugh, cry, and go wide with wonder.

With a collective portfolio including the likes of the BBC, Channel 4 and Disney, the team at Eyebolls holds an impressive amount of past experience. Executive producer and owner, Rhona Drummond started out as a graduate trainee at an ad agency before transferring over to production with The Gate Films in Manchester. A few years down the line, she set up their Scottish office and it was through her time there that she met many of her now Eyebolls team members, including Creative Producer and Co-Owner, Victoria Watson and producers, Italia Bianco and Bethan Leckie.

“Eyebolls was formed out of a desire to work on some more long form content. Initially, we channelled a TV series through it but as we gained more clients, we naturally evolved into the advertising world too,” Rhona explains.

Co-owner Victoria, says: “I worked with Rhona at The Gate Films as a producer but I also did a bit of directing and animation which came in useful when we set Eyebolls up. We also have Italia who worked as a line producer and a production manager at Disney. She’s incredibly practical, knows everything about Excel, and has great relationships with crew.” 

The core team is rounded off with producer Bethan Leckie and Thomas Selway. “He’s what we call an Eyeboller,” Rhona says. “He works with us permalance doing everything from VFX to the website and everything in between.”

Scottish Government - What does 14 units of alcohol look like? 

Having worked in the industry for over 21 years herself, Rhona has seen the landscape change dramatically over the past decade and is passionate about enabling new talent to break through.

“Advertising has evolved into a new beast over the last ten years, and agencies outside of London have even tighter budgets than those in the capital. We’ve don’t operate with a roster because it allows us to do two things - provide a hyper-tailored solution on every job and support the hundreds of talented directors who are fighting for work in an extremely competitive market. For every project, we scout for the directors that we feel could do the best possible work on that job. And that way, we also help keep what we are able to offer agencies and brands completely fresh.”

It seems Eyebolls’ unique approach not only appeals to agencies and brands who get the best talent for the job, but also helps bolster upcoming directors’ careers by exposing them to commercial work supported by experienced producers. Being able to spot great talent early on comes at an advantage as Rhona reveals:

“All brands and agencies are looking to work with the best talent. Many of the biggest name directors in the UK started out small. All it takes is one big break. We like to think we can help this talent do that and for agencies and brands it means they can work with the best on a much leaner budget. Even if a reel is raw, what we’re looking for is great ideas. With our production experience, we can then help support their next big job.”

Morton Fraser - Hazy Coffee

Eyebolls worked with up and coming comedy director, Charlie Parker, on his first TV commercial, Hazy Coffee. Charlie has been twice nominated for the Scottish Comedy Awards and picked up a win for the online comedy sitcom ‘M.U.F.F’ which he co-created along with comedians Daniel Sloss and Tom Stade. He has had the honour of shadowing Director Danny Boyle on the set of T2 - Trainspotting and  is currently directing a documentary following ‘the World’s Big Sleepout’ involving contributors such as Dame Helen Mirren and Will Smith.

jennyjokela.com

Eyebolls are currently working with young commercial director, Jenny Jokela. She is a Finnish animation director based in the UK whose films have won multiple awards, including Cristal for best graduation film at Annecy 2018. Jenny has since directed and animated Finnish kids’ TV show Hoppsorna.

The team were excited to work with IRN-BRU this year on their Crimbo Juice campaign. Produced for The Leith Agency, these light-hearted Christmas spots are made to entertain with an eccentric cast of comedy drag queens. Producer Bethan says: “It was an exciting and collaborative experience working with Leith and IRN-BRU. Not only a brand we’ve wanted to work with for a long time, but a brief involving drag queens at a time when RuPaul‘s Drag Race has come to the UK for the first time - say no more.”

With an impressive air of professionalism, a testament to the years of experience between them, the Eyebolls team didn’t bat an eyelid when it came to the tight turnaround time and swiftly cast the three leading queens after scouring social media.

IRN-BRU - Spicy Tips: Turkey

“We were looking for distinctive personalities which came in abundance. We invited the shortlist for casting the following day with a view to booking our final three almost immediately after,” Bethan says. “We found an amazing location to showcase the queens alongside IRN-BRU’s new Crimbo Juice and compiled a small but perfect team to shoot our three social films, managing to get them all shot in a day, with no running over!”

The films have had an incredible response and reaction online over the short period of time that they have been live so far. Bethan continues: “From the go-ahead to the delivery, production only lasted one and a half weeks, and we’re extremely proud of the results. They definitely spiced up our run up to Christmas.”

Rhona adds: “Although it was a low budget brief, you don’t see that on screen. Even when budgets are challenging, our clients know that we will put in the same amount of effort to give their campaign the production value it deserves. We like to see the money on screen and it’s the reason our clients return to us.”

On how they manage to handle such challenging budgets, Rhona says: “It’s extremely important to stay positive. I started out producing on huge budgets - ten times as big as they are now - but the production value that we had back then is still the production value that people want now. If you’re working to a small budget, the agency or creative needs to be clever with the script to ensure that the production can do it justice within the financial constraints. That’s the real challenge that the whole industry is having to overcome. First and foremost you need a great idea. After that, it’s down to the production value.”

As part of their extensive services, Eyebolls also offer location sourcing. Their recent photography campaign for Network Rail saw them shoot across some of the most amazing locations around Scotland, skillfully sourced by Rhona and the team.

Scotland’s Railway campaign

“It was actually quite a difficult brief as the locations had to be within a few of miles of a train station so it wasn’t just a case of finding the most beautiful locations. It took a couple of weeks to find each one!” she says. “I’m so pleased with the way it all turned out - the image of the house being my favourite. It was miles away from anywhere, apart from a train station, in the most stunning spot.”

As Eyebolls’ success continues to grow, the team is looking to expand both its animation and its live action departments.

“Animation is quite an exciting area to be in and brings a whole different level of emotion to a piece of work. It’s a sensitive tool that can be used as a shortcut to say something quite difficult at times. So although it takes longer from a production perspective, you can tell an emotive story and have high production value for a lot less than with live-action,” Rhona says.

VisitScotland: Tour Guide Tales

Victoria's vast background in animation and illustration means Eyeboll's animation reel is incredibly diverse in style. They have worked on animated campaigns for the Scottish Government and mixed animation and live action spots for VisitScotland. One of the most eye-catching is their Food Waste piece developed for the Scottish Government.

Scottish Government: Food Waste

“This was a really interesting project with a tight turnaround,” Victoria says. “We brought together Belgian illustrator, Robin Renard, and animation director, Katy Ross, along with her fantastic team at Superdoodle. Robin has a very distinctive style, one that we haven’t really seen animated before, so this was exciting and challenging. We combined a very static illustrative style into a flowing 2D animation to produce a high quality piece of work. Animation really does push the realms of the imagination and is a fabulous tool for making the unreal possible; in this instance making rotten food into baddies.”

Looking ahead, Eyebolls want to expand their offering nationally and internationally.

Although the team’s ambition for growth is high, they endeavour not to lose the highly tailored offering that has led them to where they are now. Rhona comments: “We would like to hire more producers and there is definitely room to grow but we don’t necessarily want to be huge. We want to continue offering a specialised, boutique style of service and work with exciting brands on wonderfully creative campaigns.”

This drive for discovering new and cutting-edge talent is what’s catapulting Eyebolls forward. They will be making a concerted push to support more of the UK’s best directing talent into 2020. “I love learning new things. It inspires me. Keeping up with new technology, ideas and ways of working keeps us evolving and developing. Nobody wants the same stuff churned out day in, day out. ‘New’ keeps everybody fresh and motivated to achieve more. Agencies and directors, watch this space. We should have some exciting talent offerings coming for you in 2020.”

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EYEBOLLS, Tue, 10 Dec 2019 13:51:51 GMT