Crafty business


At the Oscars, the evening climaxes with someone getting a gold statue for Best
Picture, but throughout the night and even in the ad breaks, people get statues for
other things, like Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Costume Design. These people usually
don’t create the vision but they determine how successfully it’s realised.

Similarly, craft awards are often less celebrated by agencies. If we momentarily ignore
the debate and focus on the reality: creativity is our capital and awards provide
measurable currency, than let’s explore the role craft awards can play.

Celebrated director and DOP Rob Malpage of Velocity Films is working with The Jupiter
Drawing Room on a new project, I asked him about awards and their role in his craft.

“They shouldn’t be taken too seriously otherwise they can be damaging. If you are in it
with your heart and soul and get awarded, it’s right, but purely chasing awards is a bad
path’, he says.

“None of them,’ is Malpage’s response as to which of his awards he covets most.
He continues: “I suppose the silver at London (London International Advertising
Awards) for Freediver stands out, more for the experience than the award; shooting in
the Red Sea, brilliant people, an amazing idea and all round experience.’

With shorter deadlines, more pressure for results and a shift to new mediums, I
suggest the art of storytelling is under pressure. Malpage looks contemplative.

“Good ideas are rarer today,’ he says when asked if there’s a waning appreciation of
craft. “When I lecture at film schools, one of the things I tell them is: if you shoot the
best script on a Handycam it can be good but if you shoot a bad script on 35mm, with
all the gear you want, you can’t make it good. Ideas are where it begins,’ he replies,
dismissing my idea that weak ideas can still be made into great craft.

Malpage adds: “The better the idea, the better everything that follows – more energy,
money, dedication. If you look at the craft awards you’ll see they often go hand in hand
with “idea’ awards.’

His advice for creating beautiful craft is: “Trust people to do what they’re good at’.
In many respects craft is honest and direct; a good cameraman doesn’t need to get
bogged down in the measurability of the campaign – they must focus on creating a
beautiful film.

Some of the hassles of chasing industry trends, looking for new ideas, campaign
integration or even effectiveness can be sidestepped, but craft awards are not easier to
land, in fact they require the coincidence of a great idea and great execution.
If anything, these awards provide an institutional appreciation and a safeguard for the
art of storytelling – which should be celebrated and protected as the appetite for
shorthand solutions grows.

Craft awards are classy. They show an appreciation for timeless principles; for pricking
the senses, plucking the heartstrings and orchestrating emotion.

If awards drive industry points, literally and figuratively, and reputation ultimately drives
business and pays the bills, then the craft awards offer a real opportunity, but you’ll
need good craftspeople and a good idea.


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