The last time LBB sat down with Andrew ‘Barnsley’ Wood, he was the ‘new guy’ at Rascal Post. Now, almost a year on, we meet again to discuss his approach to work (and what makes it a hit with clients), how the industry is changing for the better, and the Rascal approach to post-production.
When Barnsley joined Rascal Post, one thing was certainly clear: this was a post house putting the emphasis on working in a new way, pooling the best talent, and having fun while doing it. And that’s what the last year has been like, all whilst working on large VFX projects such as Boots’ 2021 Christmas campaign with Tom Hooper, and Natwest’s ‘Leaving the Nest,’ directed by The Bobbsey Twins.
As Barnsley tells LBB, the production world has changed and, partly due to the pandemic, the perfect conditions for a company like Rascal Post to thrive have appeared. “The big buildings and multi-layered management structures have gone out of the window now. These are the hard facts. For us, the best way to work is collaboratively and enthusiastically as a company,” he says.
Hitting the ground running
While many people are self-confessed procrastinators, Barnsley is the polar opposite in his approach to work. He tells LBB how his first move on a new project is always to go heavy as soon as it starts. “It’s almost a frenzy,” he says. “I get everything rolling at the start, partly for my own mindset but also for the client - with hitting it hard at the start, the theory is that the client relaxes into the process so they can see progress happening quickly.”
Speaking with Barnsley, it’s clear that preparation is key to Rascal Post’s success, as he tells LBB that he aims to push hard from the beginning. “It’s because the first few weeks, or week depending on project length and difficulty, can really make or break it,'' he says: “It’s common sense, really.”
Alongside hitting hard, Barnsley puts the onus on looking at the bigger picture. He tells LBB: “I try not to be trapped in the minutiae, and I think clients appreciate it.”
He tells LBB about how his experience working with director Tom Hooper for ITV’s ‘Drama Vs. Reality’ campaign in summer 2021 laid the groundwork for collaborating again for Boots’ Christmas campaign. “It was a tour-de-force in the summer,” he says. “It was a lot of work, perhaps others would have been scared of taking it on, but we went for it and it was a huge success.” The campaign in question features a multitude of ITV stars across different divisions coming together in a series of films highlighting ITV Hub’s offering. “By the time the Boots campaign came around, we’d learned ways of working that could make it smoother,” he adds.
It’s also relevant to the length of the projects, both in timescale and viewing time: “You tend to find you’re doing jobs that are 90 seconds, two minutes, three minutes with 70-80 effects shots involved - so you have to work smart, and be switched on. Constantly thinking of new ways of working and being quick off the mark, you’ve got to keep the ball rolling.”
The changing landscape
There can be no denying that, much like the world around it, the industry has changed hugely in the last few years. And with those changes, there’s been a palpable cultural shift, too. “Boutique companies like ours are far less competitive and at each other’s throats compared to what it used to be like. It’s beneficial to not fall out,” says Barnsley, who has noticed a more collaborative culture emerging.
He’s also observed a shift in the available talent, in many ways facilitated by the pandemic and remote working. “If I was putting my sales hat on, I’d be telling you about how many people we have who aren’t in London or Europe. We’re all scattered around the globe.”
Accessibility is not just about location, but the types of people that are coming through the door - whether physical or virtual. “Up until lockdown happened, it was something of a one-way street to get into this world. It was hard,” says Barnsley. “Unless you had money behind you it was really difficult. Runners get a low salary, for example, and London is an expensive place.”
“Hopefully now, we’re in a different place,” he continues. “With people not needing to come to London, it’ll help people from different backgrounds and make it a little easier. Whether it’ll happen or not, I don’t know, but you’d like to think that we’re moving into a different era with people from different walks of life.”
This change links back to Rascal Post’s approach to talent and embedding people in the industry. As Barnsley tells LBB, the hard skills are not so hard to develop as the soft skills. “Anyone can learn this stuff really, there’s reasonably cheap software now and you can do it at home. I don’t think the VFX is the hard bit, but all the stuff that comes with it can be a challenge: working with clients, managing deadlines, managing teams, turning up to set fully prepared all whilst not looking like an idiot. That’s the stuff no one tells you.”
Getting on set straight away helps too, says Barnsley who emphasises how Rascal Post takes an ‘old-school apprenticeship approach’ to teach these skills to talent coming in. “It’s about getting them comfortable in this world, being able to understand what’s going on and read the vibes on a set.”
Much of that said atmosphere is part of the draw for people working with Rascal Post, which is making a name for itself as a welcoming space where talent can really take ownership of their work.
As Barnsley says: “In my opinion, it’s really important to enjoy what you’re doing. So now, it’s about keeping hold of that. Doing what we do best with a smile on our faces. That’s what we strive for.” It’s a simple but clear manifesto, and it seems to be working.