Following an explosive year for Pulse Films and its directors, Davud Karbassioun, global president, commercials & branded at Pulse Films, tells LBB why the new production landscape forged by Coronavirus, a renewed respect for producers and the craft in filmmaking as well as how nurturing diverse young talent will define the Future of Production.
It almost seems an understatement when Davud Karbassioun, global president, commercials & branded at Pulse Films tells us that 2020 "was one of the most significant years in the company’s 15-year history”. Despite the huge knock on effect of the pandemic on production worldwide, Pulse Films seems to have gone from strength to strength. In 2020 the company was not only the number one production company globally on LBB’s League Table of Creativity and Immortal Awards winners for Nike ‘You Can’t Stop Us’, it was also named Production Company of the Year by Campaign magazine, Shots Magazine and the Art Directors Club.
Nike - 'You Can't Stop Us' - Dir: Oscar Hudson
“We’ve always been different as a Commercials production company, not least because of our history and investment in Film & TV. The vision has always been to provide a unique multi-dispensary home for talent, one that offers a truly holistic relationship with them to support their evolution as filmmakers in general. Our mission has also always been unapologetically clear: To deliver at the very highest level across each of our divisions and to create work that reflects, enters and even shapes popular culture.”
2020 was a year where Pulse Films did just that, delivering at the very highest level in every single discipline from advertising, to music videos to scripted entertainment, documentary storytelling and as Davud adds “and everything in between.”
“It was a seminal year for us as a business in general, and specifically in commercials it was the first time we found ourselves sitting amongst some of the greatest production companies in the world - the ones that have set the bar creatively over the years and that we have always looked up to.” recounts Davud.
Ninian Doff’s “Out of Sight” music video for Run the Jewels is a good example of the “everything in between” that Davud describes. The music video features the cast of Ninian’s debut feature film Get Duked (which launched on Amazon Prime last year), and acted as a marketing piece for the film in partnership with Run the Jewels, who are long time collaborators of the studios. “This was more than a music video, it was also advertising for the feature film on Amazon Prime both of which were produced by us and directed by one of our homegrown filmmakers,” he adds.
When you look at the history of Pulse Films, it is here you see that what they have achieved over the past few years is truly remarkable. Pulse began in non-fiction documentary filmmaking and commercials in London. Today it is an 80-person operation with scripted, non-fiction, commercial and music video departments with outposts in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Berlin and Milan. Many UK & European production companies take the plunge and open offices in the US but you can probably count on two hands those that have been truly successful. And when you consider commercial production companies who have also had success in scripted entertainment in the US you could probably knock it down to one.
“When we first opened in the US a lot of people told us, ‘yeah good luck, but it’s probably not going to happen',” laughs Davud. Underpinning the company’s success across multiple years, he tells us is “an unconventional approach, a lot of hard work and good fortune” twinned with “a big belief and investment in our talent – who we proudly call “the unusual suspects.”
“We take a lot of pride in the strategy of putting every penny back into development of our work and our talent – be it directing talent, producing talent or bolstering our amazing teams with brilliant people.” And you can see it’s paying off for them.
Looking forward to 2021 Pulse Films predicts this year will define the future of production, a thought that will drive an exclusive new interview series on LBB.
“One of my greatest privileges was working for Alan Rusbridger on the 'Three Little Pigs', when he was editor-in-chief at the Guardian and I was a producer at BBH, he always said that good journalists should be curating the news, not creating it. I believe LBB has done a great job in our industry bringing the outside world in to lead the conversation. We wanted to hold a discussion here because the platform has an international and diverse audience and has always respected and supported the value of what we make and how we make it,” explains Davud. “Further to that, we want to start this virtual discussion because quite frankly our usual opportunities to catch up and share ideas - at the pub, award shows and industry events - probably won’t happen this year. With so much change underfoot, it's imperative we all continue talking and sharing information. Now is when a new generation steps up to shape our future.”
There are four key themes to Pulse Films’ ‘Future of Production’ series which will investigate how the pandemic has affected production and the shape of things to come.
A welcome new respect for THE PRODUCER
A renaissance for the CRAFT in Filmmaking
Learnings from 'LEANING INTO LIMITATION'
Backing the 'UNUSUAL SUSPECTS' - up and coming talent and a more diverse perspective.
Speaking about the upcoming series with Pulse, LBB CEO Matt Cooper, says: “It’s not often you see production companies go from strength to strength the way Pulse Films has. It's quite clear to us they would be the perfect partners to be bringing together a conversation on the future of production. Our industry’s traditional networking avenues have shut and it's so important we have a place to connect over the changes in the business that will define the future of our industry - both remote and physical. It has always been our mission at LBB to provide one platform to keep up with industry news from all over the world and we think this series will be invaluable to our audience.”