NEW NERDy signing: get to know Bonnie MacRae

Starting 2023 with a bang and introducing you to NERD’s newest signing – Bonnie MacRae.
A young, talented and unbelievably passionate director makes a fresh new addition to NERD talent roster ready to inspire and mesmerise the world of creative this year!

Who is Bonnie and what are 3 things our readers should know about you?

Hello! I’m Bonnie, I’m a writer and director hailing from Scotland. I absolutely love storytelling, in all forms, and am determined to create authentic, soulful films – specifically those that tackle typically taboo subject matter. I come from a working-class background, which definitely influences the style and tone of my work, and is really something I want to continue representing and platforming going forward.

A lot of my work surrounds topics and themes that are really close to my heart. I’m so incredibly honoured and excited to be repped by NERD and can’t wait to continue growing as a director – what a way to begin 2023! Three things to know about me…

  1. I have no formal filmmaking training. I dropped out of university after a few years and have been crafting with all I have ever since. At the time it felt like maybe I’d made the wrong decision but switching pathways and believing that I could make it as a director was the best thing I ever did. Someone has to do it and why not me, right? 
  2. Travelling is one of my biggest inspirations! I used to live in New York for a little while and it was my time there that led me to pick up a camera in the first place. Since then, my travels around post-pandemic Europe have been super influential in the stories I am working on now. 
  3. I’m obsessed with food on screen – there’s something about the way you can shoot food that just excites me. I think ‘The Bear’ on Disney Plus does it so well, also there are a few great kitchen shots in Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’. Up until now, I’ve only ever shot a birthday cake but have lots of ideas I want to try out across future projects! The Scottish remake of ‘The Bear’ is on the way – beautiful shots of cheesy chips and Tennent’s Lager to feature…

Your portfolio is filled with deep and heartfelt stories. What inspires you to create such meaningful work?

I think drawing from personal experience and telling the stories I feel that I know well, is perhaps the easiest way for me to be as authentic as I can in my filmmaking. I also find it much easier to articulate and navigate more difficult topics and conversations via visual means. I’m definitely a very passionate person and when I come across something that I feel strongly about, I like to set my focus on shining the light, albeit a small one, onto these stories.

I’ve also made a couple of films about issues that have affected me personally, so maybe rather selfishly, I create work that I can relate to, in the hope that others can too. The films that stick with me are always the ones that manage to reflect a little bit of my own life, so that’s what I aspire to do in the stories I tell.

Your short film ‘Mind Yersel’ covers a hugely important topic of men’s suicide and features the Dundee accent which is not often heard on screen. How important is it for you to strive for representation like this in your work?

I wrote Mind Yersel with the intention of platforming the voices of my hometown, the voices of friends that I had never really heard within media before. It was really overwhelming when Mind Yersel was shared so widely overnight, as it was never something I expected to happen but I’m so SO glad it was well received. The success of Mind Yersel really allowed me to see the power of honest storytelling, it’s a very raw film and it was my goal to try and represent those I had grown up around. You don’t really notice the nuances of your upbringing until you leave that environment and are placed in a setting so different to what you know.

For me, I didn’t really even realise I was working class until I left Dundee and that was very striking and initially quite eye-opening. It made me realise people like me, and my friends from home had never truly been appropriately represented on screen. From then on, I made a mental note to always ensure I prioritise fair representation in everything I create, be it in front of or behind the camera. I never ever thought that I could make an actual career out of something creative, let alone directing. I really want to take every chance I have in platforming the people, places and stories that represent where I come from. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to do so.

Why did you choose NERD for your home?

To be part of NERD is such a dream come true, Milana (NERD’s founder and EP) didn’t have to ask me twice! I am at the very beginning of my career and have a lot to learn, and I want to do it all. Mentorship and encouragement are two things I’m really looking for and NERD is there to support me with both. I was also really drawn to the way NERD platforms diversity. You don’t want to get the jobs because you check the woman or the working class box. You want to get the jobs because of your talent first, the ones that will acknowledge and value your background but not let you be defined by it.

For me, NERD values all of the aspects that make up the director I am today but fills me with the belief and community I need to grow into the director I really aspire to be. I have big, slightly crazy ambitions and I feel so lucky to have the NERD team there to help me reach them.

We didn’t forget to ask about your new short film. When can we expect to see that? 

Yes! I’m so excited – but also incredibly nervous. It’s called All Up There and it’s all about Endometriosis, and desperately trying to reach a diagnosis. It’s very personal, and actually quite exposing, but something that I’m very proud of. We worked with an entirely female crew which was really special, we didn’t have much money at all but I really hope it gives even the slightest representation of what it feels like to come of age with a chronic condition when it feels like nobody in the world is listening. The film should be available to view online by February/March this year – ahhh!

And finally, tell us a NERDY fact about yourself? 

I can’t start working on a concept, treatment, or day on-set without curating a Spotify playlist to go alongside. Sound design and musical scores are for me, one of the most crucial elements of film and I literally cannot come up with or develop any ideas if I haven’t spent hours making a playlist to soundtrack them first. Some might say creative, others, the perfect method of procrastination – I think a little bit of both. It’s one part of the process I will never skip!

Check out Bonnie’s profile here.

THE WORK THAT MADE ME: BILLELIS

Billy Bogiatzoglou aka Billelis is a 3D Illustrator and Animation Director residing in the UK. Billelis is an artistic alias originating from his younger years of graffitiing and wall tagging as a teen.

He now spends countless hours experimenting, learning and expanding his artistic skillset to create a personal style that can be best described as a dark, yet elegant, and romantic fusion. He has a keen eye for intricate detail, as well as bold, contrasting colours and his work has often been described as hyperreal.

Equipped with an overactive imagination, his sketchbook and a perpetual artistic hunger, Billelis aims to be a distinct source of creativity. He enjoys collaborating with a wide range of clients and has worked with brands such as Nike, Xbox, Coca-Cola, Peugeot, Red Bull and several global music clients, to name but a few.

Billelis shares the work that made him and inspired him to be the artist he is today. An incredible journey of self-exploration and hard work with a showcase of everything and anything we need to see from Bill. The creations that made HIM – enjoy!

The music video from my childhood that stays with me is a very easy choice for me. Slipknot Duality is the absolute chaos of a music video. Metal mosh madness in America resulting in a house riot.

The game that made me want to get into the industry…
I feel it was Mortal Kombat, the chaos, and fighting styles but most importantly the character creation, artwork and cult-like statues that grew in those early years of gaming were essential in my artistic development. A  life goal come true for me – I ended up working with MK.

The creative work that I keep revisiting…
My artwork for John Wick 3 was essential in the development of my career. And to this day stands as one of my most fulfilling projects and artworks.

My first professional project…


I think it was my work for Formula 1 and team Redbull. It was so long ago now and a completely different style from what I have been creating for the past decade.

The piece of work that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…

I would like to keep client confidentiality on this and not share names but yes there are many… It is so hard to create sometimes when you are being used like a client’s pencil instead of given the freedom to do what you best…

The piece of work that still makes me jealous…


All the artwork Raf Grasseti creates. Such emotion, detail and skill are inspiring, to say the least. It is good to have heroes you look up to that keep pushing you higher.

The creative project that changed my career was John Wick 3 without a doubt.

The work that I’m proudest of…
My In Memoriam collection. A lot of inner emotions and fears were infused into that collection. Becoming publicly vulnerable was a hard step to take but I am so proud of the entire collection. That and Transcendence, are probably my most detailed and crafted artwork to this day.

 I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…

Having worked on music compilation albums for kids’ parties… Hey, we all start somewhere right?

The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…
The Digital Art project I created titled ‘The Graveyard’. A unique concept of life and death cycles in Digital Art, having to sacrifice existing art in exchange for something new.

Hayley Morris: Bringing colour and light to Vote Early campaign for MTV

Early bird gets the worm or in this case – how to get young people to vote? New captivating and immersive stop-motion animation from NERD’s Director Haylely Morris for MTV. 

The campaign focused on translating important messages and highlighting some of the main issues US citizens are facing at the moment. We were mesmerised by Hayley’s imagination on how to carefully translate such important issues to young public through art. Our team grabbed Hayley to chat all things NERDy about this film.


We love the idea of such a short yet powerful message, how did you come to this?

MTV’s campaign mission was to get young people out and vote for the Midterm elections in the US on Vote Early Day. The midterms usually don’t have a large turnout like a general election, so we wanted to create something that told the message in a clear and memorable way. We brainstormed so many ideas, and in the end, we landed on the concept of “Early bird gets the worm”. There are so many issues facing the country, but we decided to focus on Reproductive Rights, Gun Violence, Inflation, Racial Justice and Mental Health Care. Voting early tends to be easier and since there was the worry of voter suppression on actual election day, the importance of translating this in a digestible message was high.

Birds often symbolise infinite possibilities, renewal, eternity, and the transition between life and death, what is the meaning of the lovely bird in this spot?

The bird was chosen mainly as a symbol for the early bird concept and how you can bring the issues you care about to the ballot box to make a difference with your vote. The bird itself is crafted out of an election ballot and it plucks the issues (worms) out of the ground to fly them to the ballot box.

Being a stop-motion director you must be good at a few different handcrafts. Origami seems to have a particular place in this spot, is this something that you enjoyed long before starting your career or is it a skill you needed to acquire for the profession?

I love working with paper and have been manipulating paper through stop motion for a long time. In each project, I always try to do something new and see how I can push it in a different way. For this one, I really wanted to push the transformative quality of paper by having the election ballot fold up into the bird. I wanted the final bird to be very simple, but highlight the elements of the ballot that are important to read. The belly of the bird displays ‘ELECTION’ and the wings and tail says ‘For US Congress’ and ‘For Governor’ with the candidate’s checkboxes. 

I usually like to create a lot of my work in camera, but here I wanted to explore compositing more. I shot all of the elements on a green screen and mocked up the final scene for the compositing. Seeing it all come together was a lot of fun.

Your work is always so colourful and brings joy to every topic you cover, is it something you aim for in every project?

Thank you! The paper itself is always so inspiring. I love going to the art store to look and feel all of the papers available for their colours and textures. I try to craft sustainably where ever possible so I also enjoy searching through my materials and seeing what I can re-purpose and give a new lease of life to!

For this one, MTV wanted the colours to be close to their end frames which had blue, yellow and pinkish orange. I tried to bring those colours into all of the backgrounds so that the transition from the paper scenes to the digital end cards wouldn’t be too jarring. It also helped make the white bird pop against the colourful backgrounds. It was so entertaining to explore what the underground scenes with the worms would look like, so I found some really beautiful Lokte paper in brown and maroon tones that were a nice contrast to the vibrant above-ground scenes.

For fellow directors and animators, do you have any advice on how to make serious and important topics more fun through handcraft?

I would say it is a lot of brainstorming and just getting all of your ideas out. We probably went through 10 or so concepts before landing on this one. You have to dig deep into all of the ideas and then pluck out what the central themes you really want to focus on are. 20 seconds is not a long time to try and pack in big ideas, so you have to think of symbols and visuals for what you need to say in the most concise way. When it came down to sifting through our concepts, we wanted to stress how voting early is easier and focus on the issues at hand. The bird is a vehicle for change by taking the worms with the issues to the ballot box as the sun rises.

Many of our rights are on the line, like reproductive rights and the right to choose, and issues like gun violence just keep happening. There have been 604 mass shootings in the US in the year 2022. Inflation is making life unlivable and Mental Health Care is not affordable or accessible to a lot of people that need it. Racial Justice has so many layers but is tied to elections and voter suppression within communities of colour.

Hand-made animation also brings a human touch into the visuals that help to support the human issues we’re trying to address. Even if the viewer doesn’t realize these images are actual paper, there is something playful and relatable to the election ballot folding up and turning into a bird. When you go to cast your vote you are filling out little circles on a physical piece of paper and actually putting that paper into a box/or mailing it in an envelope. 

There is a visceral connection between the paper and the act of voting itself. So for me, making this whole spot out of paper felt very appropriate in supporting the overall idea and concept.

Check out Hayley’s profile for more here.

Facebook Lite Film: Connecting people through Storytelling

NERD Productions presents an empowering commercial film, Directed by Kyla Philander (them, they), for Facebook Lite exploring themes of motherhood, love and unbreakable bonds. The commercial showcases the Lite version of Facebook tailored for regions with low data usage and limited connectivity. The latest version of the social media platform enables family and friends to sow, nurture, and grow relationships no matter what! 

Diversity & inclusion is at the heart of everything NERD does, so the film was shot across South Africa due to its offering of genuinely diverse communities. Kyla met with local people, filming their personal stories that reveal how Facebook Lite keeps them fully connected. This method was the only way to keep our film authentic. Kyla explains how themes of motherhood and love bring magic to the equation and how the strong human desire to be connected runs throughout the film. 

Milana, the Executive Producer at NERD, elaborates: “This project touched a few people from the team personally. For me, it was important to find the right talent for our agency & brand, and I couldn’t imagine a better person for it, as Kyla wants to keep the story authentic and relatable.”

During the early production stages, a province in South Africa was hit by intense flooding. Kyla explains:  “It was something out of our control but also a reminder of how crucial communication platforms are for communities at all times.”

Milana added: “You have to love what you’re doing to be able to communicate these stories and take every challenge as an advantage. The agency was one of the most collaborative clients, easygoing and trusting. Everything just came together perfectly.”

Rather than an off-the-shelf library track, Kyla felt that the music should be bespoke and carefully crafted in synergy with the film’s visuals. “Something curated and made specifically for the project always elevates it and brings a real feeling of humanity into the work.”

Kyla added: “NERD Productions follows the path of diversity and inclusion in valuing and representing a vast range of carefully selected directors, illustrators and photographers. Milana and the NERD team champion the D&I space needed in our time.” 

“It is so important and amazing at the same time when you can use your craft and talent to work on something like a story about under-represented communities. I am proud to say that Kyla was the person who directed this, someone who can dive deep into the brief and show real people as Kyla did.” added Milana

Watch Facebook Lite

The Work behind Rudy: a film by Shona Auerbach

Amidst busy working days for Shona, we managed to grab her and tell us a little bit about one of her most recent creations – Rudy.

Rudy is an award-winning coming-of-age drama set in the heart of rural England. It follows the emotional journey of a teenage girl who finds herself being tested by her relationship with her father and responsibility for her younger siblings. She feels increasingly pushed out when her home gets opened up to a paying guest. Through a newfound friendship with a boy from Coventry, she discovers fun, freedom and autonomy.

“Rudy” is a film that centres on love and loss, youth and innocence, holding on and moving on. What inspired you to create this film and pursue these themes?

The initial story was triggered by me losing my dad and also losing a friend who left a teenage daughter. The months after this I would drive past a house in the countryside every week, I started creating a story about a girl who lived in that house, dealing with her own loss and trying to find some kind of reconciliation with her own feelings, whilst also trying to get on with life. 

You collaborated with Akira Kosemura on the musical composition for the film. How did you two meet and what was it like working so closely with one another?

My son loved his music and suggested I ask Akira if he would give me permission to use one of his tracks or even possibly compose a track for the film.  I got in touch with him and after seeing the film, he loved it so much that he offered to compose all of the original soundtracks.  I was bowled over, his music is so wonderful and I loved working with him.  Because of the time difference to Japan, he would compose in his day and send over the tracks and I would put them into the edit and feedback, and although we were a long way from each other we worked really well together. 

The visual style of “Rudy” looks beautifully natural and nostalgic, somewhat akin to Sean Baker’s aesthetic. What led you to choose this style?

Graeme was the cinematographer on Rudy and I was originally both a photographer and cinematographer before I started to direct.  Both of us are drawn to visual storytelling.  We didn’t have much in the way of budget or crew so we had to be inventive, improvise with camera moves and often embrace what light we were given. We chose particular times of the day to shoot, when the light was right, and so operated in a more organic way.


Most of the production was done locally and with minimal crew, do you always approach your work this way?

Over the years I have had the good fortune to work on projects with decent budgets, which in turn has allowed me to have bigger crews.  However, I often think it is because Graeme and I originally came from film school, that if there is no budget, we slip quite comfortably back into shooting in a simpler way. Rudy had a minimal crew because of the lack of financial resources. Some may see this as a limitation, however, in many ways it was very liberating because it allowed us to be very light on our feet and getting what we needed in simpler ways.

What were some of the hurdles and challenges you faced while putting all the pieces in place for this production? 

The main difficulty was the lack of money to throw at situations to help resolve them. 
We knew from the outset that this was going to be a labour of love film, and once we accepted that we did not have funding to make things go quickly, we embraced the fact that we had to make it at the pace we could afford.  We managed to get over most hurdles, finding inventive ways of shooting and we were given a lot of generous support from lovely people along the way.

New NERDs Signed! Director Duo Karni & Saul on Building a World of Casual Fantasy

Exciting is an understatement! We are honoured to have Karni & Saul from Sulkybunny join our diverse roster! It is a pleasure getting to know them even better and treating you to a few bits on their style, most recent work and balancing their life as a working couple with kids.

What have you been up to during summer with all the heat waves we’ve had this year?

We’ve been busy with our BFI mixed media short Wild Summon. Trying to keep our two kids happy and busy in a huge paddling pool, working on an eye mama photo book and project about the mother gaze. And of course, eating a ton of watermelon, while quietly panicking about the environment and global warming. A good summer overall!

You describe your style as casual fantasy. What is the best example of this, and where do you find your inspiration?

We find it in everyday life. Casual fantasy is not typical, but it appears naturally in live action in the details where it is merged perfectly into life because life and fantasy are interconnected. Every day of our life can be fantastical, it’s down to your point of view and imagination. Sometimes, life can be stranger than fiction.
In our shorts Turning and Flytopia, fantasy is a part of the narrative. Like a boy’s imagination or a man losing his mind, we love the play and the surrealness this brings. It is a visual medium after all, so it has to be visual pleasure and magic.


You make quite a lot of music videos! Is the realm of music and entertainment a particular niche you feel passionate about? 

Absolutely! Music, visuals and fantasy work so well together, like tea and biscuits. They improve and amplify each other when it works well, when we love a song and it resonates. We have images pop into our heads like magic.


Working together as a married couple must have its perks. Do your kids play a role in your creations? If yes, who is the first one to give you feedback?

They definitely inspire us by being playful and imaginative. Interacting with our kids can be magic, but also hard work. We make things we want them to see or be inspired by even if its in the future. Being a directing duo and couple with kids is our reality and we have never known any different. It comes with power and also compromise, and again, we wouldn’t have it any different.

Over your whole career, what was the project you enjoyed the most? Not only by the outcome but everything starting from the client, brief and up to the final delivery.

One of our first ever commercials was for a project for BBC Digital Radio with Larry and Dave. We played a lot and had loads of fun experimenting with stop-frame animation, had a big laugh and were very creative. It set the standards high, our three short films for BBC, Film4 and BFI were a long and joyful ride. Super hard work but full of creative satisfaction and freedom.

What motivated you to join the NERD Productions roster? Why are they a good fit for you? 

We have known and liked Milana from NERD for a long time. We like female leads wherever we can and we like companies that support artists and creativity. It was a no-brainer.

AirWick Night: A New Take on the Award-winning AirWick Day

From the makers of AirWick Day, AirWick Night comes to a screen (and a side table) near you! NERD Productions and Peter S. send a sense of ease and relaxation over the airwaves with this  stunning TVC  in partnership with Havas.

The new film immerses you in a world of fireflies and lavender, married with a perfect bed of relaxing sound design. So sit back, relax and check out the full spot here.

Kulay Labitigan | Art crafted by heritage, strong cultural influence and gratitude.

Happily raised in a rural Filipino town, Kulay grew up freely exposed to local artistry and cultural scenes. Then unaware of his capabilities, he already knew that he always wanted to be creating.

As a kid, Kulay spent a lot of time daydreaming and playing. In a family-owned general merchandise shop, Kulay had a treasury load of random stuff he would make into something. He loved to draw religious imagery in made-shift drawing pads that he stitched together from old notebooks and constructed art made of objects used by priests during mass. 

Kulay Labitigan

With the multi-dimensional influence of the outer world on the Philippines’ culture and history, it is safe to say Kulay inherited an exciting, eclectic aesthetic that is evident in his everyday life. Now in his thirties, he has learned to embrace the diverse culture of the Philippines. He thrives on living in the intersection of language, tradition, and meaning without losing sight of his upbringing on a little floating island in the Pacific.

artwork

Kulay is an introvert walking around in extrovert clothing. He is very spontaneous and loves to explore new things as long as it is not far off the outermost peripheries of his secured zone. With all the realities of living back home, he developed a great sense of grit, motivation, and courage to follow the path where his soul could freely sing.

Getting started in the industry

In 2012, Kulay graduated from the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. Then in 2015, he moved to the UK to take up his MA in Narrative Environments at Central Saint Martins-UAL. It was a good learning playground for Kulay to explore his trajectories, meet muses, and, most importantly, his tribe. Traditional art and design education gave him the time and space to reflect, think, experiment and converse with similar-minded human beings.

artwork

Everything happens for a reason, and Kulay’s first crack at creative jobs was pure luck, but he did spend his youth burning all the artistic fuels and has been creatively working hard to prepare him for his first position. His first job in the industry was as an art director for an independent creative agency alongside freelance design works.

Kulay loves to immerse himself in experience. He believes that human experiences make one’s creative practice richer and distinct. Therefore, he makes sure to absorb many inspirations and learnings from different fields.

artwork Kulay Labitigan

Going through the years of his experience, Kulay mentioned it always pays to be kind. People you meet along the way are there for a reason. However, what pushed everything forward was his fearlessness in following his gut. In Filipino, they always say, “Ato lang nang ato at gawa lang nang gawa,” which translates as try and try, work and work. 


The work, the work, the work


Before doing illustration, Kulay worked with art installations for performances. Telling stories through space shares a lot in common with telling stories through images; the only difference is how one arrives at the destination. Different mediums of work have impacted Kulay, but his piece for Kasa and Kin, launched at the end of last year, created a good amount of traction in the local press. It is, for him, the closest marriage of his present and past life as an image breathing in an enormous expanse of physical wall space. He is looking forward to making his illustrations more experiential. 

Kulay Labitigan

The favourite part of being an illustrator for Kulay is the creative process itself. He enjoys research, conceptualising, and getting lost in the craft. Kulay is lucky to be able to do what he loves, but as he likes to say, it always comes with a certain level of perseverance and commitment. Beyond this, receiving messages from young Filipino creatives back home that, in one way or another, found inspiration in his story to make something of what they do now makes all of this worth pursuing. 

The most challenging part of every project is the beginning of it — especially the introduction and the negotiation. As much as he tries to be better at it, he feels those are not his superpowers and are best left to the incredible team of producers at NERD Productions.

Kulay looks at his creative practice of illustration as a spiritual experience, almost like a religion. He says that there are three things we all want in life. First, to make our parents proud. Second, to reach for that one star, we are all looking up to. And finally, to be part of something that impacts others. Therefore, Kulay aspires to be relevant so that he can utilise his craft as a vessel for the greater fulfilment of his purpose.

Kulay Labitigan

By digging deeper in skills, Kulay tries to constantly explore new ways of doing, materials, and scenarios. But most importantly, by giving himself permission to be still and be in solitude. We are constantly consuming information every second of our lives, and moments of quiet help Kulay develop his original ideas. 

Kulay’s Passions and inspirations

Outside work, he likes treating himself to loads of Gelato, morsels of brownies, and hours of a good bath. He is passionate about Filipino culture. Especially the Filipino language. Words capture stories, histories, cultures, emotions, and imagination. Kulay is very passionate about narrative arcs and story structures. 

He likes the art of film. He loves going to the theatre and enjoying colourful arts, exhibitions, prints, or digital. Kulay loves immersive narrative experiences. He also likes indulging in good food.  

As for his hobbies, he loves illustrating. Kulay is currently working on an illustration passion project called BRGY Hall. BRGY is an abbreviation of the Filipino word Baranggay, a local community of several households. BRGY Hall reflects Southeast Asia’s history as told by a migrant gay man living his dreams in London whilst expounding on the idea that we are all walking micro-universe. He is looking forward to sharing this with the world once they are ready.

artwork Kulay Labitigan

With all the blessings and opportunities that opened for Kulay, he thinks he must have done well in his past life. As mentioned before, creativity for Kulay is almost his religion, and he becomes a better person the more he makes better things. What immensely motivates him in life apart from his loved ones is creativity itself, but more importantly, that sense of paying everything forward, hoping to be that person he needed when he was younger to others.

All these things and many more are what we love Kulay Labitigan for. His incredible art, view of life and unique perspective make for a fantastic addition to our creative powerhouse at NERD Productions.

See more from Kulay here.

The Art of Animation | PALOMA

NERD Productions team sat down with a director duo Paloma to talk all things animation, their inspiration, favourite work and the concept of less is more!



We had a great chat with both Alicja and Lucas and we can’t wait for you to dive deep into their world!

How did you fall in love with animation?

Lucas: Spending summers in Catalunia as a kid, I was lucky to watch lots of animated movies. Having a background in graphic design, I was always surrounded by people who were interested in animation and naturally, it became something that I wanted to do. I wanted things to move 😀

Alicja: My background was in fine arts and liked to draw. I didn’t know much about animation, that’s when I went to do my Bachelor’s degree at Kingston in Animation and Illustration. I was convinced I would stick to illustration. However, in the second year of Uni we had to choose and I was so confused as to what to pick, sleepless nights and my gut helped me to choose the right path and go for animation. Once I made my decision I started feeling like the fish in the sea.

Tell us about the animation project that kick-started your career?

Lucas: I was working at the animation company and building a wider portfolio for myself. All of a sudden a producer contacted me with an offer to work on a TV show with an incredible story. It was 6 months of all ink illustration/kinetic animation and I worked on it with my wife. This became my first award-winning project that opened a lot of doors!

Alicja: For myself, fresh out of school with no confidence, I went on a Festival round with my own personal project that kick-started my career.

How would you describe your art style and what are your biggest inspirations that developed it?

Lucas: We try to simplify everything as much as we can. When we do our design we always look and see if we can de-complicate our drawings. Although at the same time, as a solo animation director I don’t think I have a particular style as I have mastered a few different visual styles.

Alicja: I totally agree with Lucas. One of the main inspirations for me is an American Illustrator – Saul Steinberg along with Johnny Kelly and an animation duo Kijek / Adamski. I love their simplistic style which contains lots of information. 

We also love lines that form things and characters and over the years it developed into one of our signature moves. 

From your perspective, what’s the key to animation that really lives?

Lucas: In animation, I really love the fact that I can be very self-sufficient. While I also work in live-action where there are a lot of the things I can’t do on my own. Whereas, animation is something I can do even when I am very old and grey, I know I will be able to have the idea and create animation thanks to technology and lots of simple tools. This is what makes animation live for me.

Alicja: To make an animation that really lives it is all about having an idea and the energy behind it. Sometimes it is quite hard to control your imagination and you can always roam free when working on personal projects, unlike commercial work.

Show us your favourite or most impactful project that you’ve worked on – tell us, what is it that makes it special and what were the memorable moments or challenges?

Lucas: Definitely Casper – it has characters, it was very fun and we had an amazing relationship with the agency. Overall, from the very start to the very end of the project everything was perfect.

Alicja: I agree with Lucas and I would also add my recent personal short film Turbo Love which recently got nominated for the Golden Unicorn at Alpinale in Austria, and got an Audience Award at Prowinjonalia, Poland in April.

What is your favourite piece of technology or software that you use and how does it help your creative process?

Lucas: I love technology in general. I fight against settling with just one software and I am always hungry to explore all the new software and plugins to connect with technology. When my son was born I had quite a bit of time and learnt DaVinci. We always try to find new things and learn how to use them in our work. 

For example, working on our current project for Google, we are using new things once again.

Alicja: I work a lot with Toon Boom and Lucas always pushes me to try new stuff. I am very grateful for this as I am of conservative nature but do try to learn every day!

Outside of the field of animation, what really inspires you?

Lucas: For me, it is live-action transitions, how you can magically go from one thing to another without using VFX and stop-motion. I get a lot of ideas when I do sports, ride bikes and surf. This is where the magic happens, all the ideas come through on my 1.5h bike rides.

Alicja: I look at a lot of things online, everyday life and of course, sports. It always helps to clear your mind even when you are stuck with ideas.

What do you think are the misconceptions about animation throughout the industry?

Lucas: Sometimes people still see animation as a childish thing, something that is only meant for children. This is common for people who don’t have a lot to do with the industry, although we are happy to see how it is changing.

Alicja: People think it takes less time than it actually does. Some clients do not realise how long some things take. Reflecting on what Lucas said, I recently watched Undone on Amazon Prime and it was clearly a very adult story.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring artists?

Lucas: Find inspiration and create your own world in animation in your personal projects. Fight for doing  what you love while you have more time and you will see how these personal pieces will bring you commercial work too. 
Alicja: Build relationships in the industry, that’s how I met Lucas and here I am. Be open to opportunities and tough challenges!

See more from Paloma here.

Pride, Drive & Excellence in Production: Ira Giorgetti

NERD Productions’ resident Creative Producer Ira Giorgetti spills the tea on art, producership and being a multi-hyphenate in London

Introduction

Who are you?

My name is Ira Giorgetti, and I’m a creative producer, photographer and entrepreneur.

Where are you from (both in UK and heritage)?

I am of British-Filipino ancestry, although I’ve got an Italian stepfather, so I’m a little bit of that too as far as culture’s concerned! I’m based in leafy West London, where I live with my partner and our three-year-old chihuahua.

What do you do?

I’ve got a very mixed professional background as well, to be honest! The day-to-day sees me working my magic with production, showreels, pitches and directors’ treatments at NERD Productions as a Creative Producer. I’m also on NERD’s roster as an Advertising and Portrait Photographer, with a dash of Still Life and E-Commerce in the mix just to spice things up. I’m currently also working on my fledgling side-hustle Provoke Art.

How did you fall in love with what you do?

I’ve been in the media and advertising game since I was about three years old when my mother, then a creative director for a publisher in the Philippines, decided to “hire” me as a talent for a magazine cover when the model they’d booked got ill and didn’t turn up. As a result, I got paid in Mcdonald’s Happy Meals, which was an exciting start to life in the industry!

Anecdotes aside, I’d always been fascinated by film and photography, and I developed a love for the visual arts from a very young age. I first picked up a camera in high school and have been making pictures ever since. Delving into production felt like a natural next step, as I think that creativity flourishes when paired with a good understanding of how to utilise imagination best and turn ideas into reality.

Production

What’s been your favourite project to produce so far?

It’s hard to pick a single favourite, as I enjoy working with the fantastic roster of diverse directors and outstanding creative talent at NERD. However, a project that resonated with me and my visual aesthetic was a 3D project for Genesis Motors (a subsidiary of Hyundai), which we produced for Innocean USA with our animation director Roman Bratschi. The resulting visualisations were beautifully constructed, conceptually brilliant and genuinely designed with a perfect blend of artistic vision and an eagle eye for details.

What a production tool can’t you live without?

A good old Parker ballpoint pen and ruled index cards. I’m a bit old-school about task management, but I’m trying to learn Notion to better organise my life given how fast-paced things are nowadays!

What’s the most challenging part of the job?

When our team puts hours of effort into pitches only for us to receive word of reworked marketing strategies, delayed campaign dates, or sudden changes to execution and approach. Always hard to hear that the hard work, creativity, and commitment to excellence didn’t make it in front of clients’ eyes. However, that knowledge results in less heartbreak for us in production and our partners, designers, and directors!

What’s something you wish clients knew, but you dare not share?

So much hard work and effort occur in the background, with directors spending hours and hours poring over the little details and flourishes in their work. Sometimes it can feel disheartening when clients want to scale big ideas back or streamline concepts that work best unrestrained. Of course, we always offer our best creative suggestions and advice throughout the entire creative production process, but the client is always right at the end of the day! 

Creativity & Art

What’s your favourite style of art?

I don’t have a favourite style or genre, although I tend to gravitate towards visual and experiential art. I’m a bit musically challenged, and even though I appreciate poetry and prose, I find myself drawn mainly to photography, illustration, painting, sculpture and architecture. I also love a bit of experiential art here and there, even if most people find it to be a bit corny!

Who/what are your top 3 artistic influences?

I have a great love for the works of Zhang Jigna, Darren Aronofsky and Alasdair McLellan.

What’s the most challenging experience you’ve had on the job?

I once had to shoot a summer fashion campaign during a snowstorm! I just managed to pull it off, although the whole crew had the sniffles for a couple of days after.

What’s your fondest memory of making art?

Probably my early days of exploration and experimentation in the Philippines, where I set up self-motivated projects taking portraits of friends and family with no particular goal in mind. I think that whilst my skill and style have developed significantly since then, I still miss the simpler times of my youth when I didn’t have to think about commissioners and how each project fits into my professional narrative. It was a lot of fun just to grab a camera, hop in the car and drive to the mountains with people near and dear to me – something I sorely miss now that the naivete is gone and I have to think a bit more about approvals, deadlines and deliveries. Of course, production is rewarding in many ways, and I appreciate the daily exposure to different ideas and disciplines. Still, there’s something to be said for one’s first few creative ventures and how that shapes their viewpoint, perspective, and approach.

The Future

What projects are you working on?

I’m handling a fair few productions at NERD at the moment, including having just delivered some pieces for L’Oreal and Hyundai whilst working on active productions for Google, Air Wick and Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation. 

Photography-wise, I recently shot the social campaign for E45’s refreshed range of moisturisers and creams. In addition, I won a competition with M&C Saatchi and the Cabinet Office, which has brought my work to large-scale display at airports, embassies and government offices. Although all that commercial progress aside, I’d love to build Provoke Art up a little more! 

With any luck, I’ll be able to take it from concept to budding side hustle. I’d love for it to be a space where queer artists around the globe are celebrated and allowed the opportunity to get their work in front of more eyes and into more physical spaces. I’ve got a fair bit of interest so far, and a couple of friends from the queer and ESEA communities are keen to get involved!

What’s top of your list of goals and aspirations?

I’d love to say that it was to get published in a certain magazine, land a particular client or receive a specific grant, all of which I’m trying to do. But, for now, I’d be thrilled to see my friends and family in the Philippines again after all we’ve been through with this long and drawn-out pandemic!

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

I love connecting with new people, and I’ve got loads of profiles online where I try my best to engage regularly:

PERSONAL LinkedIn | Twitter | The-Dots

PRODUCTION Website | Instagram

PHOTOGRAPHY Website | Instagram | Portfolio

PROVOKE ART Website | Instagram