Thu, 28 Jan 2021 10:20:54 GMT
Will Samuel is a London-based director an animator hailing from the Chelsea College of Art and Design. His design driven approach to animation became the foundation of his work to date and he champions experimentation, thoughtfulness and sophistication. Will aims to create work with a built-in discovery that will remain memorable and satisfying. He has worked with many of the world’s leading brands including Google, The Guardian, Lego and Facebook and has built a reputation for narrative driven animation and award winning work.
Name: Will Samuel
Repped by/in: 1stAveMachine
Awards: D&AD, Information is beautiful Award
In my experience there are two types of scripts: The exact kind, where everything has been figured out and signed off and it’s our job to find a style and turn it into a film. And the approximate kind, which is much more open to our own interpretation. Perhaps there are broad strokes in place but it’s up to us to work out the details and come up with lots of creative solutions.
Both types of scripts have elements I love but I will always gravitate towards the latter.
Once we’ve read and re-read the brief, the first thing I ask myself is why. Why does this film need to exist, what’s its purpose, what does the client want and what do I want from it. It can usually be refined down to a sentence. Once I know that, we can find unexpected ways to get there. It’s in that exploration that we can find the heart and soul of the film. It’s usually in the details.
This is not unusual for me, I’ll often know little about a brand at the start of the project. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, working in advertising, but I’m not big on consumerism. But approaching a new client with zero preconceived ideas is usually a good thing.
Directing an ad is really all about communication, so I suppose by extension, that means relationships with the producer, crew, agency and client. In particular, I really like getting on a level with the creatives at the agency. Involving them in the production process will give them an honest look into what's working and what's not. This holistic approach can really streamline the project.
Mixed media. I like combining different mediums and letting them influence each other. the line between live action and animation is easily blurred.
I’m from an animation background and I suppose I’m often seen as only an animation director. I love live action too!
I do not know what a cost consultant is.
This year there’s been a few logistical problems we’ve had to solve, same as everybody. But creatively, we needed to build a miniature coastal and rainforest scene for kids to appear as giants. All shot in Argentina.
Honesty and communication is key. I make clear why I love what I’ve planned or designed. There will always be a logic why I put it in there. Hopeful others can see it too, and if they can’t I’m usually doing something wrong.
I am very open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set and in my studio. I would also mention neurodiversity. I have had the pleasure of working with kids with very diverse brains and minds. I am currently collaborating with my friend Cressida Brotherstone, who is an Art Psychotherapist, on a project involving kids with autism.
1stAveMachine is taking steps to open up their offices to the younger generations from diverse backgrounds and local schools. Lot’s still to be done.
This year has really changed the way I work. It’s not all bad though. Before, on an animation project, I would insist that all our animators work from the studio because I like to see their techniques and decisions in real time. Of course I had to give that up and work remotely. But once we found our flow it worked great! It also expands the talent pool. I’m working with people all over the world. It’s great fun.
It’s a case by case thing. It’s main effect is usually timing and framing which is essential to take into account. But often the story telling remains the same. Things get a little more interesting when it becomes interactive. You have to keep everything in mind.
I’m always exploring new technology and I fully embrace it. Some of the new advancements really are game changers. Especially in AI. The results we’re seeing in virtual production is super cool too - we’ve all seen The Mandalorian.
They say your most recent work defines you so on that note I’m going to list my last four projects chronologically. Starting from most recent:
‘Get Medieval With Us’
This is fresh out the oven. Made for facebook’s social campaign, it celebrates a user made content - focusing on the group ‘We Pretend It’s 1453 Internet’. The brief was simple and open - Make a looping video combining modern technology and medieval art that will sit as a cover image on the Facebook App main page. I wanted it to be authentic, funny, epic and a bit weird. It turned out better than that!
This year I’ve built up a great working relationship with creatives at Lego. I was flattered when they approached me with this script. It was an announcement film for their multi-year partnership with adidas.
For this launch film, Will set about crafting a story of creative speculation. Imagining sport themed sequences that interact with the building’s bold architecture and fun little rooftop playgrounds, while remotely directing the live action elements from London. Staying true to the LEGO values, much of the animation and effects were built by hand, frame by frame. Tied together with a final touch of digital wizardry.
‘Build it, Break it’
Client: Duplo, Lego
This was a fun one. We were asked to make a music video of sorts, using Duplo. There were four box sets we needed to showcase so I had this idea of an interdimensional dance group traveling through different worlds. Building bits up and then breaking them down! I worked with BAMBA to make a catchy track - it’s very daft punk inspired!
‘Lego City & Friends, National Geographic’
Client: Lego and National Geographic
These global TVCs were a bit of an adventure story. My producer, Mike Capon and I flew out to Argentina for six weeks to make these. Despite the large scale production it was important to Lego that these ads retained a craftiness. I have a blast working with some of the best concept artists and matte painters in the business building these panoramic worlds where the kids appear as giants!