Advertising, Flim, jobs, musings, Produciton, Uncategorized

These Guys. Fully Fully Focused.

 Advertising and Diversity.

When I was growing up there were Quotas. Make  sure the agency has  a splash of colour, a spike of an exotic religion, and a couple of less able- bodied folk. How we loved to quote percentages. It was a requirement rather than a choice. To be seen to be doing the right fair thing, rather than believing in a world not just populated with public school toffs and or barrow boys.

Those days are gone, thank God, (or whoever you worship, no one is judging). We don’t  just have that nice-but –challenged chap being patronised in the Post Room (mostly there are no post rooms) .  Now some companies even have Diversity Monitors. Actually I don’t think they are called that, maybe Prefects? But it is now recognised that in order to have any relevance and traction, “widening the gene pool” is imperative for survival.

Advertising  chases Youth . Young people are cool, cheap, and full of verve and energy. They look good and they use social media.

But in this not-so-youthful-but-still-trying producer’s opinion,  we are scratching the surface of the potential out there.

Last week we went to an event hosted by Fully Focused. An actual youth led organisation, making relevant and important film.

These guys made me breathless with their talent and passion.

Without any effort or quota or monitor, they personify youth and diversity.

And so much more. The evening was a way to get their name out there, to create contacts and see what people in the film and media industries could do to help them. To gather support and show their wares.

A group of six likeable, nervous and articulate members shared their story, discussed what they had done and what they wanted to do. They told a tale of triumph in making their first film, Riot from Wrong, taking a difficult start and turning it into something important and spectacular. They showed trailers, and one immensely powerful film, Nadia. They  connected with the audience as a group, and as individuals. They gave us awesome stats – 52k followers and a stonking 6million views on their channel Million Youth Media. Every award they have ever entered they have won.

Later an experienced Film Producer, Melody from RSA, joined them. She said, and I completely get it, that she was really bricking it. Having seen what this band of under -25s could achieve, she felt she was not a match for them. She said lots, and of course was charming and inspiring, but the big message was that although the purpose of the night was to get us (“the grown ups”) to support them, (“the kids”), the truth is that the Film and Advertising industries need Fully Focused and whoever is equivalent out there, much more than they need us.

Don’t ever forget, these guys aren’t “connected”. They can’t afford to do middle class parent funded internships. They have little formal education. Remember that they have real hands on experience of film-making. With their own hands. Pause to think they have made powerful and  viewable content with budgets less that normally reserved for crew catering.

This needs to be recognised and celebrated.

If there aren’t specific roles, create them. If normal process doesn’t allow, change the process. Cut a swathe and connect. Pay real salaries and find funding. Seek out brands that could do with an injection of actual reality. Break creative boundaries. Recognise new potential. Come up with relevant Content. Collaborate. Employ.

For your first move, visit:

and contact:

Let’s move on and be the industry that most of us individuals want to be proud of.





This one is for you Mandy Saunders

This morning, fuelled by upset, I entered the dark hole of the photo box marked Work and Shoots. The first photo I picked up was of Mandy laughing. It was so unflattering I know Mandy would have been furious. So all text for now.

I feel a bit of a fraud writing this as I haven’t hung out with Mandy properly for a few years, but then, whether we like it or not, that is what happens with friends over time.

We just don’t see each enough when work and stuff gets in the way.

But there is always a connection. Except when there is not. We know we are always there for each other. Except when that is no longer true.

Mandy is gone forever. This is impossible to take in. It is ridiculous. Stupid Facebook for making us believe that are friends are always a click away. Turns out they are not.

But their spirit is.

Mandy’s spirit is so stupidly strong, her strength, her wit, her energy so unique and marvelous, her smile infectious. Who would dare to be negative with Mandy in the house? Moaning is for pussies, there is fun to be had.

When I was at Grey, for fifteen years, I always said it was like being in a new agency every few years. There would be a change of ECD  or an upheaval in Management, often enough to keep it fresh. Clients shifted, the office got re-jigged (who remembers the Coloured Floors, dear Lord). Imagine that for Mandy for twice as long. Including a proper move to Hatton Garden and a jolly, temporary, Valentstein and Fatt.

She was the one constant marvelous island of stability as the agency boiled and bubbled around her.

We were a proper team back in the day, the department was fierce. Mandy and I had an office without a door, so we chose to put up a cheap beaded curtain in the entrance. It was constantly tangled and terribly shabby, but it was in the spirit of Blue (back to the Colour Floors) so had to be tolerated.

My everlasting favourite Mandy quote was this:

“You see those girls with their big hair and white stilettos? They are just wannabe Essex girls. Not one of them knows where Liverpool Street station is” Of the 90s, it was a pre cursor to TOWIE.

She was an early adopter of a good cause, and who can forget her immortal words to the chairman in the lift when he asked her what her Red Ribbon stood for “Its for Aids. Aids Awareness. Its alright Rog, I ain’t got it”. Go for it Mand, make a suit feel awkward.

One of my memories is of she and I grappling with the Adcost system one Friday afternoon, she in pain from her kidneys but insisting that we get it sorted. Trouper as ever. Another producer coming in asking us where to get her glasses fixed, and a phone call letting us know there was a bomb exploded at the Admiral Duncan. I can’t shake that one, it still has a profound visceral feeling of sadness. From now on, unbearably so.

Rock DJ  has just come on the radio. A timely reminder of the time we were sitting by Robbie Williams in Soho House and Mandy was so beside herself that  she ended up in a puddle of excitement under the table calling home with the words “I may be some time”. As  I recall we then did a tour of parties just checking where he might be next. Never found him, obviously,  but giggled the night away.

Mandy should know that I still use the cookbook she bought me for my 50th (in the future!) Birthday. I don’t think I told her it is terrific for Soup recipes.

The night of my 40th (a little bit in the past) she arrived with tales of sniffer dogs on the overground and a thirst for champagne. We decided at some point to leave the party and join someone else’s. Why? Because it was hilarious. She did make sure I went back to my own guests eventually.

She told me, not so long ago, that sometimes when she had a thorny production problem she said to herself “What would Susie do?” Which was nice and flattering. And redundant.

I would like to think that Susie would have been as courageous, as positive and undeniably likeable  as Mandy was. As great a producer.  I would like to think that Susie did as good a job with her kids as Mandy had done with Mia (I suspect that I do get that one). I do know Susie would never dance as long and hard as Mandy at any party ever anywhere.

Mandy, my Mandy. You are a terrific soul. We are all the better, so very much better, to have had you in our lives. Robbie Williams, you missed out.