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Rascal Post’s James Beck on What it Takes to Work on Two Super Bowl Ads in a Year
Post Production
London, UK
Rascal Post’s executive producer James Beck sits down with LBB to reflect on the trends changing the industry and how to find success within them

James Beck joined Rascal Post as an executive producer in April last year, after eight successful years with The Mill. The new-age post house has gained something of a reputation for its determined, efficient, and powerful approach to post production. As James points out, they’ve worked on two Super Bowl spots in successive years. 

The world of production has been in flux for some time including pre-pandemic, which only served to accelerate it further. Amidst that shifting backdrop, however, James and Rascal Post have not only got the company off the ground - they've got it soaring to the Super Bowl.

It’s impressive stuff for a studio still in its infancy, having formed in early 2020. Here, James sits down with LBB to explain why a post house like Rascal Post is finding success, and what that looks like for him as the company continues to grow and develop. 

From The Ground Up

James has spent the last decade finessing his producer skills after getting his start in the industry. That began at The Mill where he quickly rose through the ranks. He tells LBB: “I quickly realised what I wanted to do in post production and made sure I worked out what it would take to get there.” 

During that time he’d worked closely with Gareth Brannan, one of Rascal’s co-founders. “Working with him for eight years, I knew his pedigree as a director and as a VFX compositor. I knew the talent was there as the foundation for the company,” says James on what led him to get on board. “I was brought in to bolster the production side and haven't looked back since”.

And it’s certainly been ticking. James tells LBB how the team at Rascal have tackled two Super Bowl spots in a year; the most recent for Gillette, directed by Martin Krejčí out of Ruffian. “It’s pretty amazing,” says James. “As has been the case for some time now, the annual Super Bowl is the most expensive ad air time in the year, so to have such a well crafted piece by Rascal in there is really special.”

The overwhelming impression one gains from speaking with James is the extraordinary emphasis Rascal puts on craft and graft. “We’ve achieved so much in a short period of time and it's a testament to everyone who works with us. Whatever role they play, it’s hard work that has got us to where we are - we’re not shy of that kind of ethic,” he says. 

Helpfully, it’s also what gets clients coming back through the door. 

While the team built structures and adapted to working from home - with a clear pipeline and working with people across the globe - their head of CG is based in Canada, and they’ve worked with specialist partners as far as New Zealand. James notes how the working culture has shifted and is perhaps impacting client relationships for the worse. “We’re quite hands-on as a company,” he says. “Personally, I love the energy of working in the same environment as others and developing those working relationships, because that’s what we’ve missed recently. This has had a very positive impact on artists especially than I think you would find elsewhere”.

He adds: “Three or four years ago it was commonplace, and now it’s been lost along the way.” As a result, Rascal Post is putting the hands-on approach back on the map. 

Independent Post Production

Part of the sell-in for Rascal Post is its independence, James tells LBB. The studio is completely independent, and its structure means that the team has direct access to clients, helping to speed up the process, and nail productivity. At Rascal Post, there’s an emphasis on being nimble, and working as efficiently as possible. 

The core team at Rascal Post now sits at 21. But the studio’s agility means it can take on almost any brief: “For bigger jobs, we can scale up quickly with our VFX partners, so on any given day there may be a minimum of 21 of us, but that can go up to 45 or 50,” says James. 

One consistent feature of the past few years in the industry has been the shortening of production timelines. James tells LBB the impact it’s had on the post world and his career: 
“The scarcity of post production timelines now is an acute reality of the production landscape. Our reaction is to be more collaborative to anticipate and solve issues with a creative approach”

Tackling challenges with a headstrong approach to client relationships and ‘focusing on collaboration at the creative level’ and always sourcing the best artists for jobs, wherever they are on the planet, has contributed to James’ successful year. As he points out, “It takes a lot for an advertising agency or a production company to trust you with that work, especially when you’re new on the block.” But for Rascal Post, it’s not been an issue. “We’re really thankful for the opportunity we’ve had to date. I think we have demonstrated what we can do. If we think something could be improved outside of what was originally quoted and it’s not going to break the bank, we’ll do it.”