Mark started his professional life many years ago in the Theatre. His subsequent career has taken him through pretty much every other medium from acting, through writing, creative and creative direction into directing. This broad base allowed him to collect a wealth of experience to draw from technically and creatively, which led to successfully creating many different genres and categories – from fintech to food, and kids to cosmetics. His acting background gives him a great eye for a truthful, natural performance (if required) and his very developed inner child (and clown) make him very good with kids. (And some adults).
Name: Mark Dymond
Repped by/in: Johnny Foreigner, Driven by Creatives
Awards: Nominated Best Director and Winner Best Short - International Film Awards, Berlin. Award of Excellence - Best shorts California. Best Short - SAFTAs. Audience Choice Award - Silwerskermfees.
Mark> Some scripts arrive wearing excitement on their sleeve, and that is immediately exhilarating. That element could come from so many places. A great story, some comedy gold, interesting visual opportunity, an alpaca. Others have that ‘wonder’ a little hidden, and it may come out some time into the job, or after some research, or like a flash of lighting. I think the point is that there is always something to learn. Something to try. Something to unlock. It’s a bit like dialogue. Sometimes the meaning is in the line. Sometimes it's in the silent bits between… There are lots of different types of scripts, and I guess they are all exciting in some way or the other. I also love fence-sitting!
Mark> I’m not sure there is a one size fits all approach to any treatment, but I tend to start with gut reactions, which I then try to add value to as I pad those reactions out, and try to stay open to any ‘impulse tributaries’ or batshit crazy epiphanies.
I tend to start a deck from scratch, and watch as it evolves, drawing from as many places as possible.
Mark> Depending on when you are coming into the process, that information can be absolutely vital, and help you, and them, to either assimilate your choices or justify them! Different sectors can also have rules which are useful to know, to either follow or break them. Marketing history, again, can either help you continue a brand’s path, or give you ammunition to set it on a different path. I am often the Creative on projects I direct, and in that case this sort of knowledge is essential.
Mark> I think it might be quite clever and philosophical to say ‘with one’s self’. That your own inner conflict can be a great stumbling block in the process. That your own confidence and vision can be a superpower, and self doubt your kryptonite… but in actuality it is probably… creative, producer, DOP, 1st. Can I have four? Oh and art director. And the on screen talent… Having a good relationship with the client can make or break the process, actually. I guess it changes throughout the journey, and is ultimately everyone. When I was acting, I was once told that the most important person in a scene is the other person… Does that make sense?
Mark> I have always admired the artists that seem to naturally draw the technical side together with the artistry, and make it seem effortless, regardless of the genre. I do like a hybrid genre, and a catchy portmanteau is a bonus. Dramedy?
We all strive to surprise and delight, and undermine expectations, and the subversion of any genre is a really fun thing to do. We did an Insurance ad with a dog in a shower as a homage to a rather well known horror. That poor dog…
(Disclaimer: no animals harmed)
Mark> Like most directors, I guess it's that my skills are not transferable. There can be that attitude that if you haven’t shot a car ad, then you can’t shoot a car ad. I have worked with a million kids, and believe me some of those skills are transferable to adults!
Mark> Not that I know of!
Mark> I think that the job description of everyone on a film set should just be ‘Problem-solver’. It seems like it is just a stream of things to solve. When you work with kids, especially young ones, it can be a minefield. Amazingly enough, they seem to care less about your film than you do! I have a long list of strategies to get a performance out of a four year old… I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say that I have been known to sing ‘I am a Poopy pants’ on a busy set. Oh the dignity!
Mark> If I was asked to choreograph the dance of my working life, it would be based on that exact relationship. It would lurch between an intimate Pas de deux, the fight scene from West side story and a rap battle.
Mark> Yes. This is absolutely vital.
Mark> I have been lucky enough to do loads of remote shooting this pandemic. From London to China, US, Cape Town - once from Greece! We have been saying that we have been very privileged to have been able to work at all through this pandemic thanks to remote technology, and what a journey it’s been working it all out. It’s a game changer for so many reasons, and I think that its effect on budgets means that aspects of it are going to be here to stay, but I pray that we are able to get back on sets as we used to, because there is nothing quite like being there in person. I think certain peoples’ presence has a palpable effect on the end product. Habits I have picked up - 10 second turnarounds between meetings on different continents! Fried chicken for breakfast. (When on China time!)
Mark> A lot of my work is across many territories, so different formats/aspect ratios is just one of a myriad of considerations when considering a frame. Turning a 2:39 frame in a 9:16 frame has its challenges, but it’s always possible. Like most things on any set, you just need to plan. We often stick up various frame size overlays, and title safe overlays, and action safe, etc and keep them in mind. It can be frustrating if you are trying to be spontaneous, but otherwise it's okay.
Mark> Sometimes offering up something new and exciting that doesn’t have a properly evolved audience/platform can be a little ‘cart-before-horse’ and just has novelty value, but it is fun to play with new toys!
Mark> Waggel - Pet Insurance
We were given some freedom on an Insurance ad, and the word ‘disruptive’ was mentioned, so we got to make a pet horror shower scene. Funny and filmic…! (Hopefully!)
LYNX - Prowler
This new club launch was a nice opportunity to throw a lot at what could have been a fairly straight forward spot.
Ryobi - The Race
This is just a nice example of a bit of cute Creative that landed unexpectedly in a Mower spot.
Decathlon - The Real Awards
For this spot I got to write a song for a Barbershop Quartet with the lines “You got off your arse.” Enough said.