Meet the Manchester prod co producing ads, brand content and writing BAFTA and Oscar nominated films starring the likes of Martin Freeman, Tom Hollander, Jodie Comer and Jack Lowden
The collaborative work of Mark Gill - a multi-award winning director with both an Oscar and BAFTA nomination to his name, and Alexander Roberts - a problem-solving producer with experience as a cameraman and editor, The Chase Films production company specialises in delivering beautifully crafted film content that connects.
One of the industry’s best kept secrets, The Chase Films has created a wealth of great work including a star-studded Christmas ad for JD Sports and a wonderful series of films for Visit Scotland. This campaign was shot one commercial per day for five days and won Silver at Campaign’s London Brand Film Festival 2018. Its success led Visit Scotland to commission a second campaign, and despite the shoot coinciding with Storm Ciara, the films still appear to show a fine Caledonian summer.
Co-founder Mark Gill’s work goes way beyond commercials. He co-wrote and directed ‘England is Mine’ starring Jack Lowden and Jodie Comer and ‘The Voorman Problem’ starring Tom Hollander and Martin Freeman. This was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Short Film and for an Oscar.
As Managing Director Alexander Roberts puts it: “We just make every piece of work the best it possibly can be. It’s very simple. Though ‘simple’ and ‘easy’ are not the same thing.”
With The Chase Films, Alexander and Mark have established a modern, flexible production company that works equally well for agencies or directly for brands.
“It’s all about trust,” says Alexander. “But trust has to be built and trust has to be earned. We’ve done that by getting involved early on in the creative process to collaborate with the creators of an idea and bring their vision to life.”
Having spent several years as a cameraman and editor, Alexander’s knowledge of how best to make a film and put it together has proved invaluable. This expertise has earned him the trust of clients including BASF, AstraZeneca, and Smith & Nephew.
Alexander’s background is complemented by co-founder Mark Gill. Speaking about ‘The Voorman Problem’, Mark said: “It tells the story of a psychiatrist who’s called into a jail to diagnose a prisoner who claims he’s a God. I was so delighted when Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander agreed to play those two parts. It did really well so I went on to write and direct ‘England Is Mine’. This was a step up, a full-length feature exploring a key point in the life of Morrissey. I grew up in Stretford just like he did, and was always a massive fan of The Smiths so it was great to tell this story.”
Describing his directing style, Mark says, “I’m always led by the idea and feel that people respond best when you give them freedom and space to do what they’re good at. I guide actors gently and only if they need guiding. Very often they don’t. I’m very relaxed on set because I prepare obsessively beforehand to work out exactly what needs to be done. Being a musician helps enormously because all performances are about rhythm. If you understand that, other elements will fall into place.”
Keeping It Loose
The Chase Films offers a flexible approach to suit the individual needs of each client or agency. Directors work on a freelance basis rather than being on a roster, so the production company can always allocate the best director for any job.
“We want to be judged on the breadth and quality of our work and give freelance directors more opportunities,” Alexander explains. “We provide a creative home and creative support for them whilst allowing them the freedom to go off and do other things. This invariably makes them even better directors, and at the same time we can offer clients and agencies the best person for their project.”
He continues: “Every brand has its own story to tell. We’re often dealing with big issues with real meaning and tangible consequences for people’s lives. It's up to us to convey the challenges of a research scientist at AstraZeneca and bring the complex beauty of science to life, for example.”
Mark agrees: “We’re very collaborative, so it’s important to listen to clients and understand the challenges they face. We’re always honest with them and are tremendously proud of the way they find our shoots so relaxed and fun. There’s always a good atmosphere on set because, at the end of the day, we’re all on the same side.”
“We also make sure the script is right before we start,” he adds. “Though, as the old saying goes; you write one thing, shoot another and edit a third. But we make sure the core aims are being met, while encouraging clients to contribute at each stage.”
Looking ahead, Alexander and Mark are keen to build on the success of their recent work and to meet new clients. “We loved the scale of our latest work. A bigger job gives us bigger opportunities to show what we can do,” Alexander states. “Visual extravaganzas are so much fun and we love conveying big ideas simply and beautifully.”
For Mark, “Original ideas are the best way to change perceptions and pull people away from clichéd thought. I’m passionate about innovative brands that recognise the value of creativity. Combine that with a strong sense of style and you get enjoyable and powerful pieces of work.”
Alexander is very upbeat about what’s to come: “It’s been a tough year for everybody and our crews are raring to go. So as soon as it’s safe to get going again, we’re more than ready.”