First things first – this isn’t going to be another piece talking about why it’s important to keep marketing during lockdown, or a recession. The world has had more than enough of those hot takes, and we won’t be adding to them.
No – this is a message to PR and marketing communications agencies and individuals around the country. Through my career I have had the great fortune to work with a wide range of agency side and in-house marketers, and with only a few notable exceptions they’ve been utterly lovely. Smart, dedicated, focused and knowledgeable people. The kind of people you like to have a good chat with because you know you’ll learn something and come out stronger the other side. It’s why I’m enjoying involvement with the PRCA Marcomms Council so much – there’s a great mix of people.
Our profession is often tagged with being so competitive. Pitches are often celebrated in terms of which, or how many other agencies you beat in the process. Its easy to buy into this dog-eat-dog process but beneath the surface there are often plenty of people willing to help each other out, and up, on an individual basis.
The country has seen a mass coming together and growth of community spirit, at least in certain areas, just when we’re all physically more distant from each other than ever. Its hitting marketing hard. Numerous reports are taking pessimistic views of the months to come; PR Week surveys have three quarters of agency heads ‘very concerned’ about business. This isn’t the time for us to scatter like drops of mercury. Its time to help each other out.
If any line of discussion about the impact of Coronavirus is consistent at the moment, its that business will change as a result. Whether its in terms of office space, agencies managing to survive through the lockdown and others managing to restart and get clients back on board – its that we need to be more flexible in our approaches. Open. Collaborative. We all have skillsets, knowledge and talent which is unique to our business. Resources can be pooled to help us to come through this.
You may dismiss this as naivety. It does sound a little utopian. But it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for us to have the will to help each other. There’s a post currently spreading around my LinkedIn like wildfire of people offering recommendations and assistance to help people they know to find work if they have lost their jobs due to COVID. It’s not many steps forward to think of ways agencies can be pooling resources and knowledge, or just changing their practices, to be helping out any way they can. We’re open to fractional support for people who may just need a blog post or a press release as a standalone to maintain line of sight. Bigger, much less flexible organisations wouldn’t consider changing service offerings like that. But if one thing is clear at the moment, it’s that operating models will change post-Lockdown, and we need to be open to that change.
In marketing, the topic of changing business models is a perennial one – you can almost count on it coming around year after year like spring florals or metallics for the Christmas party. The current situation has the potential to make flexibility meaningful, and potentially lasting. We’re used to thinking on our feet in PR and finding new, alternative suggestions. We could be doing that, now, together – for the common good.
Franklin Rae’s very own virtual escape room kicked off this week – and here are our first participants. Up for a challenge? Email us on [email protected] (if you think you’re ‘ard enough…). The winners will be crowned at the end of the Month – and there are prizes to be won. Nothing like some healthy competition.
What do Ashford, Doncaster, Reading, Liverpool and Hartlepool have in common?
These places together with Shepperton, Dagenham, the Port of Leith, Elstree and others will soon be hosting shiny new production studios.
The billions of pounds that overseas companies are pumping into our creative industries is evidence that Britain is truly world-leading in making films, TV shows, advertising, and everything in between. It is not an overstatement to say that once all these studios are built the UK will be a genuine rival to Hollywood. Over the coming years, it seems more and more of the major global players will anchor their production hubs in cities like Liverpool and Bristol. LA might have the sunshine, but the stars will be drawn to Dagenham.
The past twelve months have been challenging economically, and the immediate past even more so. But despite Brexit and, hopefully, in spite of COVID-19, production in the UK will be capable of getting back up and running to make even more industry-leading post-Coronavirus content. Boy do we need it to stop the re-runs of Midsummer Murders.
In Guy Bisson’s session “Understanding the future of entertainment” a few weeks ago on MIPTV’s digital platform he spoke about crime series being the most commissioned type of content. In the unscripted genre I anticipate the first reality shows will be of the Love in Lockdown ilk. Whilst others will mimic the Child of Our Time format for those conceived during COVID-19. You can see the names now – Quarantots for when they are kids and Quaranteens for when they hit adolescence. You heard it here first.
Whatever the show, the UK production industry will continue to make world class programmes with international appeal.
There is one big elephant in the room though. The lifeblood of this industry is the independent producers and the freelancers who make up the staff. With production on hold, they have major cashflow problems which could lead to some of the very best talent leaving to find alternative employment and financial security. Given the revenue our creative industries generate, and given the appeal the UK has for overseas investors the British Government needs to step in and do more to help those struggling. It cannot rely on the broadcasters and the market to do all the work. It needs to be investing more in helping the country’s wealth of talent, supporting those who have attracted the billions in international investment. It needs to give these people reliable compensation packages throughout the pandemic. It is an investment that will provide huge returns.
Next in our profile series with the wonderful Women in Film & TV UK, and celebrating our proud sponsorship of their monthly networking event, we sat down with Actor, Writer, and Founder of Freida Films Amelia O’Loughlin.
Tell us what you’re up to at the moment.
Hey Franklin Rae PR!! Top o’ the morning! Well, like the rest of the world right now I am in isolation. I was due to be in New York City with an audition for a TV show. That was before it happened. Despite wearing pyjamas for six weeks, things have been super busy here in London with the launch of Freida Films! It wasn’t quite the boozy celebration till 5am I had in mind, more like a GnT for one on Zoom but it was a launch nonetheless.
Freida Films is home to a female-driven production company and global creative network. We’ve had a ton of new scripts come through; there are some really exciting, fresh voices out there, and at a time like this it seems the want for connection and expression has never been stronger. People have a lot to say. And as audience members too, the desire for interaction and hope through storytelling is inviting at this time. I think we will always use film to feel closer to people. As legendary AD, Michael Stevenson (Lawrence of Arabia) once said to me: The people will always want music and they will always want film.
So Freida Films is working away on a couple of documentaries; two narrative short films, and a feature film – I’m writing the latter. Eek. On the network side of things, we’re growing rapido rapido! We have Freida freelancers and partners in London, LA, Melbourne, Toronto, Tel Aviv, NYC, Mumbai, Barcelona, Mexico City, the list goes on!
What’s been your best career moment so far?
Ah, I couldn’t possibly pick a moment. Going to America in 2018/19 has to be up there. As always, it’s the people that shape an experience. I trained in NYC, and my God, the daily dose of motivation and inspiration from coaches, industry folk and fellow actors was fierce. Find your crew and you’ll find the work. Ron Howard told me that. In America I had the invaluable experience of meeting and working with people who live for film.
NYC streets have a palpable energy about them, they emanate hunger, and they’re known for it. But a NYC acting studio?! You ain’t seen nothing until you’re six hours into an intensive actor-training class – dripping with sweat and crying over a sense memory from your younger years – amongst 30 others who are all as determined to be seen as you are. As the Boss says: you can’t start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart. I learned that there is no time for playing small. There is no time for playing someone else either; learn from others, watch to see what works, but own the artist you are – the good, the bad and the ugly. And everyone’s got “the ugly” so no shame. Yeah, I suppose that realisation was my best moment.
Last film you saw in the cinema?
Before the virus.
What did you think of the story?
It spoke of an under-represented perspective which is such an important endeavour in film! Especially if you’re hitting mainstream platforms and the masses. Like his other films, Okja especially, Bong Joon-ho captures a dynamic that’s both subtle, poignant, and harrowing, whilst reaching for vulgarity and bold, unapologetic brutality – it’s an emotionally and physically violent experience. There’s something of a gothic writer in him. He does not shy away from human beings at their worst. In fact, that’s exactly the bitter lemon that he squeezes on.
In both Parasite and Okja, he plays with the meaning and perception of animalism; holding up animalistic qualities in his seemingly- civilised characters for all his audience to see. He has us checking ourselves to see if we share a shed of their inhumanity in our own reflection.
It is the children and animals in his films that embody purity and freedom from judgement. Adults have made things all too complicated with our feelings of inferiority that cause us to buy superiority. He laughs in the face of humans’ perceived elevation from the uncivilised world, whether that be an animal or a second-class citizen. Like a slap in the face he questions what’s the difference in our society?
Wealth, health, beauty, online presence and fame are all currencies that we exchange with in the modern world. In Parasite we see how the absence or over-indulgence of modern-day “gold” can destroy us. People are secretly or subconsciously sticking a value on the head of everyone they encounter, themselves too, social media and a culture of “reviewed experiences” make it difficult to tame judgmental thought patterns that are so well-embedded in our time. These power structures have Joon-ho characters chasing things that ultimately lead to their demise. Oh and I love the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” attitude of the sister in Parasite. But Bong does not hold back on the bittersweet- ness of it all; fake it to yourself and you’re in big trouble. Social-mobility is a marathon not a race – one small slip and your shiny new-world can come slipping down; Joon-ho speaks both beautifully and brutally of the fight to the finish line.
If you could work with anyone who would it be?
What a question!! Well, Bong would be up there. But honestly it would be a tie between Paul Thomas Anderson and Ava DuVerney.
When did you realise you wanted to work in film?
It was probably the first time I watched the film Hook. Boy, I watched that film on repeat. Robin Williams was my hero; he made himself available to such vulnerability (Good Will Hunting) and outrageous, ridiculous comedy (Mrs. Doubtfire, etc.)
I didn’t take the acting game seriously for a long time though! There were other things I needed to do and learn. I’d always revelled in disappearing into stories or music or dance; disappearing into characters grew with time. Theatre was my first love, but the first time I stepped on set it was an instant feeling of: F**k I need to do this.
Summarise Freida Films in three words.
What is your favourite genre of film to write, act and to watch?
Drama, drama, drama*
*but there’s nothing like a hangover-day spent watching Ace Ventura and 13 Going On 30
What are your top 3 films?
The Colour Purple
One thing you’d tell your 16 year old self….
(Oh, and don’t sunbathe in oil. You’re Irish. And hold your grandparents awhile.)
Tell me something I may not know from reading your resume.
I have the most beautiful friends/ family in the world. Being with them, by the sea, in the sun, with good music, food cooked by yours truly, a camera in one hand and a cold glass of something strong in the other – that’s bliss.
Amelia O’Loughlin is a writer, actor and the founder of Freida Films and SPEAK PRODUCTIONS. She’s travelled the world working in the film industry; notably in New York City, Barcelona, Los Angeles and London – where she now resides. Amelia created the ongoing docu-memoir series Episodes Of, she’s recently finished writing her debut feature The Gates, the pilot Starvin’ which she co-wrote with Elina Saleh is currently in post production, and she is now working closely with Freida Films to develop various new treatments.
Amelia loves to find new voices. There’s hella magic in the pipeline. As a child dancer, Amelia’s been on stage her whole life and has continually relished exploring performance in myriad forms; turning her hand to immersive performance, comedy improv, spoken-word, etc. In recent years her focus has been pulled to film & TV; she’s played the lead in numerous short films (both sides of the Atlantic), last year she worked opposite Ewen Bremner in Nick Moran and Danny Boyle’s latest feature Creation Stories and her TV debut was playing Ruth Goodman in Call the Midwife. This year she’ll be playing the lead in Double Vision/ Amir Reichart’s new American/ German series RIFT.