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Brief history please of your involvement with 2AM
We first set up with Bryce Attwell food photographer as Attwell Martin 20 years ago. There were only really two food directors then, him and Robert Golden, but seven years on I felt we should expand and take on new talent so we relaunched as 2AM, which was Attwell Martin second time around!
From foodie photographers to feature film directors, what other type of directors do you represent?
We have always signed directors who have worked in a creative medium but are new to advertising. Their previous experience brings them confidence and energy. We currently have a talented eclectic roster of graphic designers, choreographers, photographers, TV drama and comedy directors, four creatives, illustrators, documentary and feature film directors. It is always a thrill when we convert their first job.
How would you describe the culture of 2AM?
It is very much an inclusive company. We have a very strong core production staff who all work together as a team providing the directors with a strong creative support. We enjoy the job, we enjoy working together and this provides a great atmosphere in the office and I think rubs off on everyone we work with. Our directors mix socially with each other as well as us which is also unusual in most companies. High production value is also key to us.
Which job that you've pitched on that you REALLY wished you'd got?
We pitched on British Airways last year - the through the ages film. We did a mass of research for the pitch, sourced all the planes etc and were all ready to go...
Have there been any projects you've said no to which you regret?
Not that I can think of... there are quite a few we should have said no to though.
Which piece of work changed your career?
VW Bora, but more for changing the image of the company and the directors involved. It launched Paul Goldman’s UK career, working with the legendary John Webster. Ironically we had to turn it down originally as Paul was not available and I was gutted, but it came back because the cars could not be delivered in time. I remember all of us laughing out loud all day during filming in New York, spending a few down days in the Hamptons knowing that we were all creating an award winner. It was also a great break from tumbling strawberries!
What are the key lessons you’ve learnt about running a production company over these years?
It’s hard on your own – the key is to have a strong relationship with your talent and staff and ask for other’s opinions and advice. Now I have Nick (Crabb) as my partner and co-MD it is easier to share the day-to-day responsibilities and to plan the way forward. Talent is obviously key, but it is also imperative to constantly keep evolving the company. We have no large corporate backers behind us, the buck stops with us which is ever challenging in the current climate.
List five high points from the 2AM years.
To me winning our first clutch of awards gold and silver at Cannes and at BTAA plus a couple of yellow pencils at D&AD was wonderful after years of hard graft. Nothing like an award.
Meeting and signing Wim Wenders at lunch in Berlin after his US agent suggested he meet us for representation. He knew we had launched Harmony Korine successfully in the UK and felt we would fit. Wim has always been a hero of mine and he is utterly charming. To date we have worked together with Mother for Stella and have recently shot three films for UBS and Publicis. He so deserves being nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA for PINA.
Buying a minibus for a kid’s day centre in a township outside Jo’burg where we filmed Comic Relief. The children had all either lost or were losing their parents to HIV and most had contracted it themselves. The centre could only collect a limited number every day as they only had one minibus and volunteer driver. I persuaded AMV and Jamie Oliver’s company to share the cost of a new bus and a driver for a year. We went and did a follow up film the following year and there was this shiny new minibus with our logo on which has made an enormous difference to the kids and the centre.
2AMTV finally being greenlit by the BBC on our 6 x 1 hour drama series Personal Affairs, although I think PAs its original title was better. After years of development on the TV side and our other projects it was a thrill to get into production. We shot it in a warehouse outside Glasgow with a great cast. Sadly it did not make a recommission but we have just received development finance on another drama series.
On our 20th anniversary we won the inaugral Shots Audience award before Christmas for X Box, directed by Becky Martin of Peep Show fame. Again it was her first advertising project and she got on famously with Kylie Minogue who could not have been more supportive during the production. The casting was brilliant and it was nice to see a digital film win through on equal terms with broadcast spots and such a strong international field. Even after all these years we are still moving forward.
What was your biggest disappointment and what did you do to cope with it?
Losing directors in whom you have invested so much and are fond of is always hard. A little easier if it is mutual, but when other companies poach them by offering ridiculously large financial rewards and incentives it is worse. We small companies cannot compete at this level. Of course this only happens when the said directors start to win awards after all of our hard work and it is easier for some companies to buy their talent rather than grow it. We try to keep a roster of new directors who are moving forward so it does not take too long to replace them, but it always hurts.
To read the interview on the Beat Street Bugle click here
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