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BREEDER JOINS TAXI

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19 Jun 2015

We are super-excited to welcome creative juggernaut Breeder to our roster of Directors.

Best known for their work on the Emmy Award winning True Detective titles, Breeder offers a new alternative to the stand-alone director in the creation of motion content. They do things differently. And they do it damn well.

Armed with a core team of talent, Breeder is a collaborative collective of sensory experimentalists and their unique blend of experiences, talents and tastes truly sets them apart.

Call them a raconteur on steroids,
An all-in-one story-telling explosion in one bad-ass box
They’re not for everyone and that’s ok.
It really doesn’t get much sexier than that.

View Breeder’s showreel here:

From concept and design through to filming, animation and post-production, Breeder blends art, technology and philosophy to add value to every project they work on.

They’re also the paternal offspring of digital experts Josephmark – a design ventures practice that creates digital products to connect and transform, so Breeder is quite naturally, a highly-evolved hybrid director.

Q&A with top car director Paul Street

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18 Jun 2015

We jumped in the passenger seat to have a chat with
Taxi’s top automotive commercial director Paul Street

Q1. Are you still going to watch TopGear post-Clarkson…?

For sure, I’ll check it out. I’m curious to see where it nets out for the BBC.
My Production company in London represented two Directors from the show – they shared their war stories with me, I got to know the inside track.

I read Clarkson and the gang are moving onto another network. I’m sure whatever they create will be interesting.

They set the bar high – both Andy Willman the Producer and Jeremy Clarkson really created the perfect format for the TV car show.

Q2. Explain the place in which you grew up…? Did you grow up on Noffler’s ‘Mainstreets” or was it more like Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’…?

I grew up in Streatham, South London. It was more Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” than Noffler’s “Mainstreets”.

It’s changed now, but back in the 80’s it was a sketchy place to be – living in Thatchers Britain.
I think “Ghost town” from the Specials is the tune that defines my memories back then.

Q3. What were the things on the street (inc cars) that influenced your aesthetic / gave you the horn…?

The streets really were the meeting place for friends in the neighborhood. There was a real camaraderie, it informed us all growing up.

Cars and motorbikes were a big part of it, racing to Box Hill, road trips to Brighton, stuff like that.
I remember watching American Graffiti and thinking, wow, this is like Streatham without the sunshine and cool American V8’s.

My first car was a Morris Minor Van, it was terrible – no first gear and no reverse. What did I expect for 30 bucks? It was my first four wheels – I called her Moggy.

There weren’t any flash supercars in my neighborhood. I didn’t see Aston Martins or Ford Mustangs on the streets – a Rover Vanden Plas was luxury in Streatham!

I loved bikes and used to race my Yamaha FS1E and YPVS.
The Mods had their Vespa’s, the Rockabilly’s their BSA’s – I used to shoot them all on my Canon 1014 Super 8mm movie camera.

Music was a massive influence and guiding force, it played out on the streets of London. With the birth of House and rave parties the bikes and cars took us all to these new clandestine parties which sprung up in fields outside London.

Q4. How did you come to pioneer the use of Flame and Avid and what influence do you think it has had on successive generations of creatives/directors…?

It was a natural progression for me.
I’ve always loved to push the medium of film technique to tell stories – I worked very closely with my editor and effects artistes.

I’ve always been big part of the post process and finishing of my productions, and I wanted more immediacy on set.

I convinced my editor Chrisophe to drag around his AVID – the same with my flame artiste Crawford (he had a massive Octane
kit at the time:)

It paid off, as we were able to sync up the video splits from the 35mm cameras, edit on site, and lock in rough comps with Flame.

This allowed me to create dynamic effects, and adapt while shooting when needed. The agencies of course were blown away, they knew what they had before they went home.

Today of course on set editing and effects it no big deal, in fact I was recently shooting in Belgrade and we cut all three commercials before we wrapped. We even touched on the color grade.

Q5. Your decision to forgo an invitation to the celebrated Royal College of Art and instead take up an opportunity to work on the ground with CTV is well documented. Can you explain the impetus behind your decision…?

It’s a choice I still ponder to this day.
At the time I had been in film school for 3 years and I was keen to get my hands dirty in the action and in a professional company. I wanted to gain that experience and build my reel.
I was grateful for being given an opportunity to study at the RCA. It was an honor and a privilege.

Q6. Your referencing and appropriation of classic auto-related cinema is the cornerstone of some of your best TVCs to date. Can you elaborate on your cinematic influences…?

I’ve always loved cinema.
I worked in a Rep movie house when I was going though Art School. I got to see films ranging from Nic Ray to Akira Kurosawa. It was an amazing crash course in filmmaking.

I realized how Directors were able to insert their own creative DNA into their stories.
It was mind blowing! Watching movies and having something to say is vital to being a Director, more so today even with all the tech and digital.

I always loved 60’s and 70’s movies because of their gritty realism mixed with a heightened reality.
I grew up admiring Friedkin, Ashby, Peckinpah, Leone, Coppola.

Bullitt, French Connection, Once upon a time in the West were all go-to movies for me, especially road movies like Vanishing point, Two Lane Blacktop, Badlands and of course Easy Rider.
That blew me away, especially the lighting, editing style and freewheeling vibe.

I had the honor of working with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda later in my career and told them how they inspired my work in advertising.

When I got into the Automotive sector of commercials my passion for these films and their directors informed the way I created the spots.

I wanted to bring a cinematic edge to the work, while using new technology to heighten the editing, music and visual effects.

Music was a big focus for me, and I believe music in TVCs is often 70% of the power of the idea and communicating the message.

Q7. Has your move to Australia, in particular the Sunshine Coast inspired or informed your aesthetic in regard to certain upcoming projects…?

I’ve always felt a close affinity to Australia since I was a kid.

Half my family moved here in the 60’s so I grew up with the country being a constant in my life.

Coming back to the Sunshine Coast has underscored how much I missed the place and people and how the landscape informs so many Australians.

Its such vibrant scenery. The Australian landscapes are unique and very filmic. I remember being haunted by Picnic at Hanging Rock and more recently the brutality of the desert in Proposition.

Australia is always been such fertile ground for stories fused to the earth. My new feature SAVAGE RIVER is based in Tasmania, and the bush is a character in the film.

Q8. From your perspective can you give us some insight into the differences between making feature length films and TVC campaigns…?

It’s very different. Obviously you still need and camera, sound and lights but it kind of stops there. With tic’s

Q9. While budgets are shrinking, how do you find ways to deliver more…?

Really caring about and understanding the client and the agency creative is critical as an advertising Director.

I mean really getting to know peoples expectations, their process, their hopes and fears has allowed me to max my delivery while keeping the budgets in check.

Q10. Where do you see a connection between your background in TVCs and Features and the current trend towards inclusive content production for different digital platforms?

Features and advertising are really two very different disciplines. Movies demand a singular understanding of the script material and a close relationship with the acting and production talent.

You’re in for a long haul and the decision and responsibility stops with the Director.

On set, you really are the guiding force, creatively.

Advertising is a client based experience. It’s a commerce business primarily, looking to hook into the filmmaking zeitgeist.

This demands a different kind of dynamic for a Director. It’s a short time frame of course, but the budgets are often much higher on a day by day comparison, and often more challenging for a Director.

The common theme between Features, Commercials, TV or content is you’re still pulling cameras out of cases, watching trucks arrive, checking that talent understands the script, crew are being fed and you’re aware of the budget.

Q11. What is your favorite driving song..?

There are so many. It depends on who I am with, where I am, and where I’m going. There’s one for every occasion. Muddy waters is always there.

Q12. What is your favorite beer song…?

I don’t have a favorite.

Q13. Speaking of beer, your highly celebrated NHL/Corrs commercials were dead-on. Have you ever smashed a Perspex window…?

Not personally, but I’ve been there, and I’ve seen it happen.

Q14. Cricket or Hockey? Robin Williams once said “Cricket is baseball on Valium…” Do you agree…?

R.I.P Mr Williams, we miss you. I wish I’d had the opportunity to really introduce him to the “Gentleman’s Game”

Under the Influence: Advertising – keep up or get left behind.

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21 May 2015

Last week Taxi’s strategic development & innovation guy, Ant McCormack moderated a panel discussion of advertising and design influencers to unpick advertising’s future titled ‘UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Advertising – keep up or get left behind.’ Taxi, AGDA & Analogue/Digital teamed up to hold the event as part of the Analogue/Digital conference.

Given the event was held at a bar on a Thursday night, it was billed as the place where big ideas meets a big-ass party. With sailor jerry and Stone & Wood providing the drinks for the crowd of advertising and design people the party was always going to good. The big ideas from the panel of experts definitely lived up to the billing too.

The panel included: Matt Faulk: CEO & ECD of Basic Agency (San Diego, CA), Russ Vine: Managing Director JuniorCru, Rob Hudson: Chief Digital Officer GPY&R, Tanja Hall: Director, Jolt, Simon Langford-Ely: Creative Director, Bigfish, Paul van Barneveld: Director, Brave & AGDA President, Eddie Zammit: Creator of Director, T-World. All moderated by Taxi’s strategic development and innovation guy, Ant McCormack.

The panel dived headlong into the topics of: the shape of advertising now, ideas Vs. execution, relevance Vs. creativity, taking risks, advertising’s future and big ideas.

At a glance the discussion covered:

Is advertising f*cked?

In short, no. But keep up or get left behind.

The panel was pretty united on this front. Things are ever changing in advertising, but they always have been. It’s just that digital is probably moving faster than any other change to the industry we’ve ever experienced and agencies and brands are still working out the best way to connect with their audiences through digital channels. Also, with all of this content coming from every direction, brands need to stand out and have a clear position on what they stand for.

The panel was also all on board that agencies and clients need to embrace digital as something that people just do so get over it and get on with it. BUT, there is a different way to think about it and execute it so approach it differently.

Is print dead?

Our expert panel was split on this topic. Eddie Zammit, creator of of T-World (a hard copy printed journal) was unsurprisingly in favour of print. Arguing that the tactile experience and permanence of the medium meant that #printispremium. The designers on the panel, Tanja Hall & Paul van Barneveld, agreed with Eddie that print is here to stay and it’s definitely premium.

Simon Langford-Ely, Russ Vine & Rob Hudson were all together in agreement that print isn’t dead yet, dying pretty quickly. Meanwhile Matt Faulk was ready to bury print there and then, arguing that it’s not premium, as digital offers a better and richer experience and that swiping a screen to make things happen is just as tactile, if not more so, than turning the page in a book.

The irony that Eddie uses a hashtag, a purely digital tool, to push his argument that print is premium was unfortunately left alone by the panel on the night…

Ideas Vs. Execution

With the content-heavy now and the future of advertising and brand communications, will execution become more important than ideas?

“Hell no!“ you hear everyone on the panel shout in your mind. And you’d be right, to a point…

The panel members were all on the same page – ideas are key. But ideas and execution aren’t mutually exclusive. A bad idea with a good execution is about as lacking of value than a good idea with a bad execution. People remember the idea because of the execution.

With tools to create polished executions so readily available “anyone can polish a turd”, as Russ Vine so clearly put it. As a result, ideas will probably become more valuable, but executing these ideas well (instead of just adding a bit of “polish”) will remain almost as valuable.

Relevance Vs. Creativity

With the ability to really target people based on who they are, what they want, what they like, have done in the past and are doing right now, will relevance and targeting become more important than creativity?

GPY&R’s Rob Hudson was on the side of right now, yes. But things like programmatic and big data are the “it” things right now. Once everyone has figured this out and the playing field has evened out connecting to people with creative message will be key again.

This sentiment was reflected across the panel. Relevance of message is a given, but in the not-too-distant future, getting in front of your consumer in the time of need will be ubiquitous amongst brands. The message and brand position that connects to the consumer on a level that pushes and pulls the buttons and levers that connect to people as irrational humans will stand out.

Risk & Bravery

Should ad agencies and designers be braver and take more risks? Should clients take more risks? If so, how do we get clients to take the plunge?

Along with the #printispremium discussion, this topic divided the panel and sparked robust discussion, debate and flat out disagreement.

Generally across the panel there was agreement that agencies and brands need to be braver and take greater risks. Except for GPY&R’s CDO Rob Hudson who totally rubbished the idea of asking clients to take risks, arguing there should be no such thing as risk when creating work for clients. Research, experience, critical reasoning and data should inform a decision to proceed with a piece of work or not. To Hudson, It’s a question of mitigation and agencies shouldn’t ever expect a client to simply “trust me” because they think this might be possibly a good idea.

Brave Creative’s Paul van Barneveld lived up to his agency name arguing that to do something genuinely new, you have to take risks. Eddie Zammit, who seems to be a risk-taker by nature, (and successfully doing so) backed him up and then some.

Matt Faulk came at the risk and bravery discussion from a different angle. Arguing in favour of taking risks, but balancing the approach by mitigating the risk where possible with research, knowledge and data. He also took the conversation further by looking at how to encourage clients to come along for the ride and take a risk with an agency. Explaining that his agency, Basic, partners with their clients in a completely transparent approach and even invests in some of their clients on particular projects by putting skin in the game. This has resulted in mitigating some of the risks for their clients, but also creates an increased level of trust and willingness to take some brave actions for both client and agency.

The future

What will the future advertising/design agency look like and how will (or should) agencies work with clients in the future?

The panel was in total agreement here – the way agencies work internally and the way they work with clients is changing fast and this is just the start of it. The predictions from the panel included:

  • Clients will take more capabilities in house
  • Agencies will have to become more specialised in their offering
  • Agencies need to be involved in their client’s business as much as their client is
  • Live and breathe your client’s brand
  • Agencies will become more of a consultancy partner
  • More personal client – agency relationships will be a marker to success
  • Partnerships between agencies and clients will be key
  • Agencies will become smaller
  • Strategy will become even more important to the agency service offering
  • The ultimate goal will be genuine collaboration and partnership with clients, agencies and other suppliers
  • Who knows? It’ll be a different conversation next year…

After all that discussion we had some answers to the questions from our panel of advertising and design leaders, but a lot of the answers contradicted one another and sparked further debate. And that’s the point. Advertising is ever evolving and we need to keep up and lead the way, or get left behind. At least at the ‘Under the Influence’ event we had a lot of Sailor Jerry, Stone & Wood beer and the industry’s leaders on the panel and in the audience to carry the discussion well into the night.

Ever braved it under the influence?

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12 May 2015
ANALOGUE_DIGITAL03

This Thursday night we are all coming together to raise our glasses and work our brains. To rap about advertising’s future and the digital world.

In partnership with AGDA and Analogue Digital, TAXI presents
UNDER THE INFLUENCE – Advertising: Keep up or get left behind.

In short, it’s your big chance to hear the big ideas and then turn it into a bas-ass party, put it all on the line and take some big risks.

Join Analogue Digital in this official side event for a party and a panel discussion of advertising and design influencers including Russ Vine, MD @ JuniorCru; Rob Hudson, CDO @ GPY&R; Tanja Hall, Design Mgr @ JOLT; Simon Langford-ely, CD @ Bigfish; Nic Eldridge, CEO @ AGDA, Matt Faulk ECD and CEO @ Basic Agency (CA) and Eddie Zammit CD @ T-World.

Moderated by Taxi’s very own strategy and innovation dude, Anthony McCormack.

Where: Elephant Bar, 230 Wickham St, Fortitude Valley
When: 7.30PM for 8PM start
Cost: $20 @ door or free for premium ticket holders, AGDA and BADC members

Special thanks to Stone and Wood, Sailor Jerry, TAXI and AGDA.

Personalisation of Digital Media

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5 May 2015

A wrap up: hub4101′s ‘Who’s Googling You’ panel discussion

by Ant McCormack, Strategic Development & Innovation

On Wednesday 29th April some of Brisbane’s heavy-hitters in the digital space joined ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott to discuss the personalisation of digital media. Part of hub4101’s Disruptive Thinking discussion series.

Along with Mark Scott, the panel consisted of Cat Matson, Chief Digital Officer for Brisbane, Michael Burton, CEO Cutting Edge, Rob Kent, MD Publicis Worldwide Australia and Prof Michael Blumenstein, Head of School of Technology Griffith University.

The discussion centred on the good, the bad and the exciting opportunities that the collection of detailed data, and in turn, the personalisation of digital media that flows from that data.

For the digitally savvy, the amount of data that we all freely give away to everyone and anyone is already fairly well known. However, this is generally thought to be the domain of the ‘big guys’. A key takeaway for me from this discussion was to reiterate that due to the digital economy that we all are a part of, any sized business can (and should) be using data and digital solutions to grow their business.

We can all compete on the world stage.

What we need to realise is that almost any business can now form a very accurate picture of who you are, what you do, what you like and what you might like. All of this information is being used to curate, create and distribute relevant content just for you.

Great. No more irrelevant ads or news you’re not interested in. Or as Cat Matson put it:

“I get a whole lot of ads in my Facebook feed about shoes, not about Viagra.”

Another bonus, a big one for me as a creator of advertising content, we can make sure our content gets in front of the specific audience. Plus, we can use data to guide us on the type of content to make that this audience wants to watch, wants to share and as a result more effective. Everyone wins.

But….

What about the sense of discovery that makes the internet so great? How do you discover that amazing new idea, great cat video, or really important news story you should know about if it doesn’t fit into your previous pattern of content consumption and other tracked activities?

Also you can’t have a discussion about this topic without talking privacy. The metadata laws have passed and that’s one thing. But what about the data that we are all willingly giving up for “free” to loyalty programs, email accounts, apps, websites, competitions, basically everyone and anything?

I think the majority of people don’t really know and they don’t really care how much personal information they are giving up. I know, and I still use gmail, google maps, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Uber and a host of other services that collect my data. I don’t have a Flybuys card though, not because I don’t want them having my data, but I just can’t be bothered…

I think if we want privacy and data security we’re going to have pay for it. Whether the majority of consumers will be willing to pay is yet to be seen. Until there’s a paid service that is as good, or more likely better, than the “free” ones – like google’s myriad of services – I think we’ll all just happily give up our information.

So in the end, who’s googling you? Well, everyone.

But it’s really great and pretty bad – all at the same time.

——-

Ant McCormack is Taxi + Traffic’s strategic development and innovation guy and a founding member of hub4101.
am@taxifilm.tv
@antmccormack 

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