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Penthouses and Sir Paul McCartney: The Story of Two (ex) Runners



Creative Outpost partners Danny Etherington and Quentin Olszewski on their early days, biggest work and what’s next for Pictures and Sound

Penthouses and Sir Paul McCartney: The Story of Two (ex) Runners
In 1992, two runners joined visual effects and production company, MPC. Filled with vim and vigour, the two would make drinks and take orders, unaware that they would one day look down on the streets they used to sprint through together - all from the comfort of their own penthouse office. 

For Danny Etherington and Quentin Olszewski, their journey from runners to the-people-who-direct-the-runners has been rich with hard work and humour - admittedly, mostly Quentin poking fun at Danny. 

“We began as runners,” says Danny. “I didn’t understand that this didn’t have to mean actual running. Suffice it to say, those first few jobs were frantic - me, sprinting through Soho everyday!” he laughs. 

For Quentin, those first few years were characterised by their friendly power struggles, in which he managed to usurp Danny in one fell swoop. 

“I was originally Danny’s assistant,” Quentin laughingly recalls. “But Danny decided to go travelling, and I was promoted. When he returned, he was my assistant!” 
Amicable rivalries aside, the two joined forces to found independent Soho VFX studio, Creative Outpost in 2014. Specialising in VFX, CG, Versioning and now with recently acquired audio and sound design capabilities, the Wardour Street outfit has won pitches, grown its team and worked for some ginormous names. 

“Having known the team since their Golden Square days I was extremely confident that their level of quality and professionalism would be reflected in the offering at Creative Outpost. The energy, enthusiasm and can do approach that I receive no matter the project or budget always makes me come back for more. I would trust this team on any brief and I always look forward to coming to see them.” - Michael Hanney - executive producer, Iris.

With offices in Soho and Sweden, Danny and Quentin are kept busy across two continents. Quentin heads up the Nordic operations, running the Oslo and Stockholm offices, bringing talent, solutions, remote workflows and, where appropriate, automated solutions to clients. As for London, Creative Outpost works on all aspects of audio and post-production, taking over the entire 5th floor of Film House on Wardour Street in Soho. 

“I can still see the original offices,” says Danny, pointing at the old MPC building from a chair in their meeting room. “It was quite a ‘Class of ‘92’ back then - we were stocking fridges alongside some of the most respected figures in the film and TV world today. It’s really quite incredible.”

“We are always very happy with the work Creative Outpost do for us. Their attention to detail makes it seem effortless.” - Sally Miller - senior producer, Engine.

Amidst all the work, the duo have found time to indulge their jolly dynamic - often, with higher stakes than a normal prank. 

“In the early ‘90s, Quentin and I were both working on a project with Sir Paul McCartney,” Danny remembers. “Quentin was the assistant on the first day, and I was the assistant on the second. The evening before, I spent ages rehearsing my introduction in front of the mirror. Yet, when the following morning came, Sir Paul shook my clammy hand and tore me down in four disappointed words: ‘Oh, where’s Q today?’. In my mind, all I could hear was Quentin’s guttural laughter at smashing my one perfect moment!”

“I’ve worked with Creative Outpost on quite a few projects in my time and it’s always a pleasure. The producers are extremely lovely and super accommodating; nothing is ever too much hassle and they're a fantastic support on each project. Most importantly though, the output is always top class and they won’t rest until everything is better than perfect.” - Stefanie Forbes - producer, Engine

For both Danny and Quentin, it’s the team that holds together the framework of Creative Outpost, with two key bolts in the mix - senior producers Caroline McNulty and Kathryn Wigginton. 

“Caroline and Kathryn truly treat everything they touch with the exact same respect. Having travelled with the company through all of our ‘growth spurts’, they have such a deep understanding and appreciation of what goes into each role, and how to manage in quite literally any situation thrown at them,” says Danny. 

As for the immediate future, Danny, Quentin and the team are excited at the addition of their sound addition, having recently acquired the ability for sound design/engineering and Dolby mixes, following the closure of Nick Angell’s eponymous studio earlier this year. Nick Angell has been a longstanding friend and audio-mentor over their shared time at Film House. 

“Creative Outpost are a friendly bunch. We’ve worked with them consistently on the VFX side over the last five years. Now with the addition of the Sound studios, on this occasion we used them for audio on our high profile Santander campaign launch.” - Laura Middleton - senior producer, Engine.

Dave Robinson and Tom Lane bring both character and talent to the Creative Outpost studios, with Dave’s 21 years experience leading the charge as newly appointed head of sound. "As sad as it was to see Angell Sound close its doors, having been with them for over 20 years, I feel incredibly proud to be a part of a new era for Creative Outpost. It’s an opportunity to help develop and grow the audio side of things from the beginning and is also an exciting new challenge for me personally,” Dave says.

“We’ve had to grow and change every year,” says Q. “First, it was about managing volume and capacity, now it’s about ensuring we’re getting everything we can out of the incredible services we have on offer.” 

For Danny, it seems to be more about the immediate future - namely, what to eat...

“Our job is largely like running a reputable restaurant. It’s about sourcing excellent ingredients, having a talented team who know exactly how to prepare and cook them, presented in a welcoming and creative space, and providing exceptional customer service,” Danny describes. “Most critically, you need to be able to react to changing trends and tastes as that can gut a ‘restaurant’ faster than a kitchen fire - there must never be a time your restaurant is so big it can’t adapt swiftly!”

Lunch, anyone? 

For more from Creative Outpost and information about their services, including their recent sound acquisition, head to their website, here

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Genres: Visual VFX, Music & Sound Design

Creative Outpost, Mon, 15 Jul 2019 14:29:01 GMT