Is it me... or has video gone galactic?
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Not so long ago, in a boardroom not so far away, the conversation was simple - we need a film and some stills, for press, maybe point of sale. Now, the requirements of the digital universe are a little more… galactic:

Notes, from a recent pitch:

“This video is for online, social and possibly TVC. We need 16:9, 9:16, 4:3 and widescreen, in case we use it at a conference - people love widescreen at conferences, it gives them the feeling our brand is really cinematic, like Star Wars. The film also needs to work with and without sound and have titles, for mobile.”

 “Would you like an opening crawl?” 

 “A crawl?”

 “Titles, like the start of Star Wars.”

 “As long as it works on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Vero plus all other social media and online platforms.”


The world has changed. As Scott MacFarland wrote in the Huffington Post “If a picture is worth a thousand words… a video may be worth… Forty billion, because that’s how many videos are streamed in the U.S. each month and… $6.3 billion will be spent on video ads this year.

That was written in 2014. Since then the global online video spend has gone galactic.

But for producers, directors and creatives this level of consumption is a real challenge. Clients may want to have it all (bending budgets well past Tatooine), but is it really necessary to create content that works across all platforms? Is planning and distribution dead, or are they unable to keep up with the needs of our online masters? And if you like something, how come there's often not anymore? 


Years ago I was shooting in NYC with a couple of young agency hotshots who introduced me to Instagram. It was new, fun and at first, you posted all the time. In a very short period of time I probably told Facebook far too much about my love of Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Cinema and Pasta ala Norma but as I slowed down and started looking around I discovered most images weren’t worth a thousand words and most videos definitely aren’t worth 6.3 billion, except those of cats, pandas and dogs defending the lives of small children against wild animals. They’re awesome. I also learned professional users and advertisers know when to post. Because let's face it, only the Dark Lord is permanently connected. 

Today, if you believe the press, Instagram is being overtaken by upstarts such as Vero, a migration driven by a dislike of an algorism and a hate of adverts – not my words. But does the platform you choose really matter? Isn’t it all about the content?


As a director it’s no longer about shooting and delivering a great film, now you have to consider the format. We spent years fighting our way out of TV’s ancient 4:3 prison for the universal freedom of 16:9; now we’re back in a rebooted 4:3 online universe where sound has been replaced by titles – apparently, on mobile, no one can hear you scream. Also…

Brightly coloured backgrounds are important Ah, but isn’t that a sponsored ad from… Facebook and Istagram, the companies who want you to be across all platforms at all times? But as the sponsored article seems to imply, a multiplatform approach needs different and varied content or else, as a creative friend of mine pointed out,  "the craft is lost and it’s even harder to stand out." But as she went on to say, "if you get it right you can create something truly great,  it can take minutes for half the world to see it." 


In a world with multi-platform needs it helps to be part of a creative team. I’ve shot for years with photographer Ben Fisher - Liverpool Victoria, Unilever and Wagamama and creative director Adam Ward - Deadgood.  The great thing about shooting different content for stills, video and social simultaneously, apart from the obvious cost savings, is creative synergy. Our campaign for Wagamama mixed content for a revolutionary giant screen at Heathrow’s T5 with social and online promotions. Bespoke content for bespoke platform shot simultaneously. 


What fascinates me is the way content is often still shot for a single use, a campaign, an event, a point of sale. In a video world dominated by Netflix, Amazon and video on demand, series is King. We repeat view, coming back to the same story over and over again. We want to keep watching because the content grips us, it indulges us and yet in a world where video has gone galactic there seems often to be very little follow up. 

What I'd like to see is:

More interesting use of formats. Like this one from WeTransfer

Diversification. Vary stories across different platforms.

More ongoing engagement. Tell deep and complex stories that encourage people to share because they touch us, emotionally

Good things do get made but far too often as creatives we're asked to produce something that fits all, which brings me back to... 

A recent pitch:

 “Do you need stills?”

 Pause, clearly not in the brief


 “I work with a great photographer, who’s just shot John Boyega for The Tate.”

 “Star Wars. Excellent… Can we get Boyega?”


Carl Prechezer
Is it me... or are people obsessed by Series 2 of The Wine Show
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Don't believe me, here's what ET have to say:

“Pour another glass because our favourite import Matthew Goode is back with a second season of The Wine Show, Friday 12th January 7pm Channel 5. Sky Vision’s food and travel magazine series, which moves the action from Italy to the South of France, is already available in the U.S. on Hulu. The show became a favourite among viewers thanks to the bromance between Goode and co-host Matthew Rhys and their journey through the heart of Italy in search of tasty wine and lasting memories. Joining Goode (who also stars on The Crown season two) is James Purefoy, an equally English and handsome actor, who steps in for Rhys. This season, two hosts are tasked with finding a case of wine to match a six-course French lunch cooked by Stephane Reynaud."                           

I mean what’s not to like? A bromance, lashings of adventure and a “Provencal palace of plonk”. No wonder people are obsessed.

I’d like to say Series 2 was hard work, but you wouldn’t believe me. I could mention long days, endless treks burdened by kit, but you’d just laugh and pour yourself another glass of something cool and sparkling. But honestly, contra to some producer's opinion, the show isn’t made on vast budgets with carefree schedules. This is classic TV - a small tight unit, Arri Amiras and buckets of natural light.

As always the show travels the globe in search of great stories and stunning locations. My personal favourite this season, Japan. Based mainly in Kyoto the episode teamed Joe Fattorini with Jaega Wise, a new presenter from the Wild Card Brewery in London. Together they studied Saki, which is brewed like beer but consumed as a wine. Of course as always with the Wine Show it was less about the drink and more about the experience and in Japan most experiences come with a wealth of personal cultural complications:  I kept my shoes on when they should have been off, forget my business cards and said something that I thought was “thank you” but in fact translated as “bog off”. The only person who was in more trouble than me was a Monk unable to remember his lines due to a shocking hangover – apparently drinking Sake brings you closer to God. As they say locally - “Drunken life, dreamy death.” Or something like that... 

For Series 2 I also shot a lot more food thanks to chef Stephane Reynaud. His gorgeous dishes gave us some mouth watering tabletop opportunities. We were also joined in the South of France by the legend Jancis Robinson who was tasked with the job of judging the findings of our two exuberant stars. There's also Chef Shoots - I was lucky enough to spent a day with Angela Hartnett at Line Wood Hotel in the New Forest. Gorgeous. 

Of course it's all worth while when you get a prime time slot on Channel 5 and if you can't wait or live outside the UK it's globally available on HULU and other local channels.

Can't think of a better way to start the New Year So - Salute!


Carl Prechezer
Is it me... or do cats hate Directors?
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Once upon a time, as the festive season was close at hand, a lovely script arrived. It was a simple story, the story of a dog, a cat and a magical fire. Animals, who hate each other, united by a wondrous product. What could possibly go wrong…

WC Fields was right; working with animals and children is never easy. You have to have patience, nerves of steel and a selectiuon of squeaky toys. But the challenge goes a lot deeper than knowing when to release the mechanical mouse. Here’s a few ideas in case you find yourself faced with a ferocious feline and a set full of expectant clients.

Rule number one - cast the owner not the animal.

One of the first films I ever made was about the life of a bull terrier. I knew nothing about working with animals but my star seemed a joy, following me around and doing nothing I asked. My cameraman, an animal lover, suggested I make noises through a cardboard tube to attract the dog’s attention. Bingo, suddenly we were in business, but the animal’s owner didn’t approve – a short man with a broken nose and a penchant for gold jewellery. 

That night, uninvited, he banged on my door and announced that the dog’s fee had just gone up, because comedy was extra.

I learnt my lesson and these days I leave the comedy to the professionals. Charlotte Wilde doesn’t have a penchant for gold jewellery and doesn’t charge extra for comedy but boy can she deliver some pretty special animals.  SHADOW was already a super star before he even put a pad on set.  In fact, he can fly a plane. No, I’m not joking, SHADOW was saved from death row to star in a TV series where animals do amazing things. Check out this clip and you’ll see our hero at the controls. Amazing.

But let’s not get carried away. Those of us with "previous" in the animal world know that every day comes with a new dawn and even if Shadow was on my side I still had to deal with his feline co-star and as producers will tell you…

Rule number two - cats hate directors.

To understand cats you need to train as a Buddhist monk. You need to meditate on what they might have been in a previous life. Where they lived, what they ate and what it is about a film set they find so repulsive. Then you need to throw away all that knowledge and pull out a big stick with a fluffy feather on the end and wave it around in the direction of their eye-line. Failing that wipe chicken over anything you need them to look at. Note to any actors – that may includes you.

The third rule, forget WC Fields and channel your inner Poirot.

Like children, animals have their routine, some are better in the mornings, others in the afternoon and if you want to get a dog to go to sleep you’d better find out when he likes to sleep. Oh and giving him a big meal followed by a very long walk, that’ll work.

Preparation done, it’s time to shoot - two animals, one room and an open fire, what could possibly go wrong…

So here’s the twist – they’re not in the same room, at least not at the same time. You see unlike the legendary commercial  where the mouse joins the cat and the dog, we only had hours to get what we needed and so I’d already storyboarded the shoot to separate the animals. After all, it’s really the dog’s story - don't tell the cat but she's actually the side-kick.  So through the power of angles and good old-fashioned editing they co-habit only in a land of post production.  But the real star… now that’s the product.

I kid you not. Unlike many products I’ve worked with that don’t do what the client says The Dimplex Opti-Myst is a truly amazing fire. It looks like a real fire but it's electric, controlled by remote control: up, down, on off you name it.  It’s a fire made for Hollywood. No more special effects guy with a rusty old pipe and a gas can set to disaster The Opti-Myst is instant heaven, a film friendly fire. Revolutionary,

Oh, and let's not forget - good film, great script. 

So finally, as the 2017 draws to a close I’d like to wish you all Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year. See you in 2018. They'll be series 2 of the Wine Show and a very special announcement about The Cutter, just in time for The Oscars. 

Carl Prechezer