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Supporting Talent in the Freelance Era

The Influencers 168 Add to collection

INFLUENCER: It's time to encourage and support directors to ‘stop talking and start making’, says Spindle's Greg Hackett

Supporting Talent in the Freelance Era

At the start of the year, I sat in a big production company's office and was told, "It’s directors like you that are responsible for the democratisation of the industry!" The comment was in relation to the way I had entered the industry and, furthermore, how I had approached a recent production for a well known UK brand, in which I shot four films with a crew of four people, using real people; all for a fifth of the cost of the main TVC. Over the course of the next few paragraphs, I’ll reveal why I took that (potentially offensive) statement as a complement.

My route in to the industry certainly wasn’t typical. I hadn’t considered film as career until I was helping a photographer friend out with some writing and travel on a documentary he was making. I thought it looked like fun and a challenge in all the right ways, so afterwards I bought a 5D camera. Two months later, I was making a film about my friend, Tom Donhou, a bicycle frame builder. Tom was attempting to cycle at 100mph behind his old Ford Zephr. We put the film on Vimeo and, within a week, it had been shared everywhere gaining more than two million hits, from mainstream news sites through to niche cycling forums. It was unexpected, fun, overwhelming and needless to say gratifying to see a nine minute short doc shared this way! 

The experience left me with a distinct feeling; to remember that we’re only one click away from an audience and that you just need a good idea or a story to tell to get your work in front of them. 

Why is this important to me? Because in our industry our work is our commodity and our sales tool. 

As a director you can sit there, on a roster, waiting for the perfect script to land in your inbox and it might never come. Is it your fault that it may never arrive? Is it your production company's? In general, I happen to think it’s neither.

For me, an attractive director is a curious director. It’s someone who is driven by the creative and who is generating ideas, looking for stories to tell no matter if anyone wants to stick a brands label on the piece. These directors, who are putting their passion into making their art, who are cultivating their craft and out there building their reels are the ones that I’m inspired by and, ultimately, who we have built our roster around.

This new generation of director deserves the support their predecessors. Investment, whether that be time through mentoring or financial - through the backing of reel expanding films - is key in ensuring that fresh talent survives the dizzying journey through the industry. Those teeth cutting scripts from young creative's drawers, are now often kept in-house, where opportunity may exist but the investment and support may not. Wherever a director chooses to hone their craft, if we, as an industry, wish to benefit from it, then we have a duty of care as individuals and as a collective.

There’s a new generation of filmmakers, like Roxy Rezvany and Brent Foster, who are practicing their craft by getting out there and making their art, without waiting for people to give them a yes or a no. This practice, as has been my experience, is the perfect way to both find your voice, but also to enter an ever changing industry with a different point of view. As we have learnt (from recent diversity debates) a fresh point of view is essential for the survival of the UK industry in the global marketplace. 

This talent-led approach needs not only a director, but also a creative approach to production and thus these experiences will only serve clients needs more efficiently in an industry where film is not now only a single execution, but a multi-faceted, layered, content generation exercise needing a director who can oversee these tasks with skill and vision.

The future is not sitting on a roster waiting for a script to arrive, but actively making the work you want to make and inspiring people to want to work with you. 

As a partner at Spindle, but also a director, my aim to encourage and support our directors to ‘stop talking and start making’.

Greg Hackett is director at Spindle 

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Spindle, Thu, 29 Nov 2018 15:09:38 GMT