NERD welcomes Photographer Manos Chatzikonstantis: Q&A

1606Campania 15916C 2 - Nerd Blog - Nerd Welcomes Photographer Manos Chatzikonstantis: Q&Amp;A

We are absolutely delighted to introduce Manos to our continuously expanding talent roster. With his remarkable portfolio featuring delectable food photography, captivating portraits brimming with purpose, and the mesmerising landscapes of the Mediterranean, Manos brings a unique creative flair to our team. In an exclusive interview, we had the pleasure of discussing Manos’ portfolio, his award-winning image for the Portrait for Humanity, and the diverse array of influences that shape his distinctive style.

Your portfolio reflects a deep appreciation for light, composition, and the intricacies of imagery. Could you share a moment that sparked your fascination with these elements and ultimately led you to pursue photography as a career?

Creative expression comes from diverse parenthood. So many things in one’s life, many of them unconscious, contribute to one’s style. I suppose growing up in Greece, being familiar with strong light and shadows plays a role. Warm sun, reflections, the softness of the evening. These kinds of things. Working with great people as an assistant is also quite formative. Observing art plays its role, I suppose, as does literature. One resonates subconsciously with certain elements, with certain techniques. I believe in observing the world closely and photography is pretty much the profession to follow if you are like that and a horrid draughtsman at the same time.

Your food photography is described as natural yet inviting, every shot we look at just gives us that ‘yum’ feeling. How do you approach each food shoot to ensure the dishes not only look appealing but also tell a compelling story?

What’s important is to understand the food itself and what the shot is for. It’s like a portrait really, where you have to connect with the person at some level and convey something. I need to know what the food is about, where it comes from, and what traditions it’s connected with.

Then comes the technical part. Chat with the team if this is part of a production. Which bits need to be highlighted, how this particular food reacts with light and colour? And in the end, one has to have a story going. Where are we, where is this dish supposed to be, whose place is this? Even if it’s just a white background where the food is placed, it should bear the soul of the people involved in preparing it.

Your Mediterranean cultural roots shine through in the textures, shadows, and colours of your work. How do you incorporate your cultural influences into your photography, and how do you believe it sets your style apart in the industry?

I believe that one’s style has to be true to oneself to have some significance. I’m equally fascinated by the South as I am by the northern crisp sunlight or the shadows of an object lit through a window on a gloomy day. Maybe having lived in Germany and the UK, being originally from Greece.  I somehow came to understand and appreciate the southern narrative elements better and learn how to combine them with the northern ones. That might be one thing. And the other might be that I don’t particularly care for stereotypes and try to avoid them. Removing elements usually works better than adding.

Winning the Portrait of Humanity award and being shortlisted for prestigious awards like the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year demonstrate the recognition your work has received. Can you tell us a backstory of your Portrait of Humanity winning image?

Oh, I love this image. The great thing about living in London is that you rub shoulders with all those cultures, all those different people. The shot was made in Stamford Hill, where most of the Jewish Orthodox community lives. I was working on a book about Jewish kosher cuisine at the time and Purim was going on, a religious celebration similar to carnival. People get totally bonkers there during the festival. It’s a wonderful thing to observe and interestingly not many Londoners know about it. I was roaming the streets, camera in hand and these kids were just coming out of their place to join the festivities. I took a shot, then they noticed me and as they gave me a shy smile I managed another two shots. One of them made the Portrait of Humanity competition. A lovely moment.

And to finish off, tell us a NERDy fact about yourself 🙂

Here’s two:
I love Superbad.  
When I edit photos I listen to weird, modular, glitch music. Or Frank Zappa’s mad guitar riffs.

See more from Manos here.

Chantel King: Q&A

19 02 24 02 02 49 2 1 - Nerd Blog - Chantel King: Q&Amp;A

We sat down with NERD’s beauty photographer Chantel to chat through her favourite projects, her creative push and the importance of diversity and representation not only in her work but also on set.

What inspired you to pursue a career in beauty and portraiture photography, and how has your journey from art foundation to graphic design influenced your unique style?

I began my career exploring fashion photography. I was captivated by Tim Walker’s portraits. I love his wonderful, creative use of lighting and oversized props to enhance his images. Honestly, I began shooting beauty due to a lack of finding a brilliant fashion stylist, which is extremely important in fashion. To my surprise, I find so much joy in shooting beauty and portraits and wouldn’t look back. I love photographing all skin types well and capturing the realness of a person.

Your portfolio showcases a diverse range of projects, from soft and gentle portraits to bold and dynamic compositions. What is your favourite project to date and why?

There are many favourites of mine; however, if I had to choose one, it would be my ‘Synthesis’ series. I love this series because it’s not merely a portrait, but a collaborative piece involving makeup, hair, styling, and art direction. I shot the portraits alongside still lifes, which were then collaged together by the art director to form a new portrait, hence the title ‘Synthesis.’ These portraits have received much praise and recognition.

Your commitment to inclusivity and representation in photography strongly aligns with our values at NERD. How has being a black female photographer impacted your journey in this industry?

Representation is extremely important to me; being seen makes a huge difference in this industry. I address this message wherever I can. I also ensure that I have a diverse team, whether in front of or behind the camera. This diversity is reflected in my portfolio and the stories told through my work. I notice the significance of subtle surprises from models who recognise me as the photographer, and the fact that the majority of assistants who reach out to me are women of colour. They see themselves in me, which is deeply rewarding. Additionally, I strive to pay my expertise forward in various ways.

Experimentation seems to be a key element in your creative process, from playing with different lighting techniques to exploring various styles. Could you tell us about a particularly memorable experiment or project that pushed the boundaries of your artistic expression?

Yes, I love playing with light. The shoot where I pushed myself the most was in my ‘Art of Glass’ beauty series. For this series, I held different vases in front of the lens, creating a beautiful spherical viewpoint of the image that I simply could not recreate in post-production.

Screenshot 2024 03 27 At 09.48.25 - Nerd Blog - Chantel King: Q&Amp;A
Chantel King: Q&A 40 - Nerd Blog

And finally, tell us a NERDy fact about yourself 🙂

I absolutely love all types of puzzles whether it’s jigsaws, escape rooms, sudoku, or any puzzle where I have to solve something, I get so excited and even more when I complete it.

See more from Chantel here.

NERD Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone

Sleepoverfinal - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone

Catching up with Amanda, we took a peek into her creative journey and explored her sources of inspiration, her favourite work,  and found out she really is a true NERD!

What has been the most exhilarating source of inspiration shaping your bold and playful style in illustration, and how has it evolved throughout your career?

I have always drawn from my own life and interests. I enjoy drawing the things I love, things I think would be clever, my surroundings, things inspired by memories, current happenings, or things I wish existed. Inspiration can really come from anywhere at any time. I have taken pictures of trash in the street because I liked how the colours looked together.

I think it’s very natural for an artist to continuously grow, and at the same time hone in on what makes them consistently and uniquely themselves. Over time, my style evolved naturally. I pretty much use the same base formula when I make new work, but expand it by tweaking things here and there. I just do what feels right to me at the time.

Nyctrash - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone
Nerd Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone 52 - Nerd Blog

Could you share with us a memorable project where you offered a clever creative angle to a concept, and how did you approach the process to achieve it?

Vice had me come up with some unique banners for each of the astrological signs for their horoscope section. This concept was inspired by a big corkboard I had in my childhood bedroom that had a bunch of my stuff stuck to it. (photos, drawings, stickers, tickets, small toys, crafts, trinkets, etc)

The creative process for this was very involved, but also very fun since they really let me run wild with this idea. I worked closely with an astrologer to come up with specific items to fill each sign’s ‘cork board’. Putting these together was meticulous since each item had a specific purpose behind it, which I still think is really cool when I look back on it.

As both an illustrator and a professor at the School of Visual Arts, how do you balance your creative pursuits with teaching and mentoring aspiring artists?

You have to make time for the things that are important to you. Both creating artwork and teaching are very rewarding to me. With my art, I do my own thing, and I guide each of my students to do their own thing, too.

I remember what it was like and how it felt when I was a student at SVA, I learned so much while I was there. And over the years, my career experiences and personal work have taught me things, too. I’m grateful to be at a point where I can pass my knowledge and help young artists blossom. Even as someone who now teaches others, my learning and development are constant.

Backpack - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone
Nerd Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone 59 - Nerd Blog

And finally, tell us a NERDy fact about yourself 🙂

I definitely have a bunch of niche interests, but some of my more ‘nerdy’ ones revolve around Japanese media. I have a few different old video game systems still plugged in. I never gave up playing games like Katamari Damacy and Dance Dance Revolution. I also still take care of Tamagotchi. I read manga and watch a lot of anime, too. ✌️

Screenshot 2024 03 20 At 21.27.47 - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone
Nerd Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone 60 - Nerd Blog

See more from Amanda here.

3 Minutes with Billelis

Image00006 - Nerd Blog - 3 Minutes With Billelis

Billelis’s distinct visual style serves as a testament to his unconventional inspirations. Drawing from a diverse array of influences including religious iconography, Tarot symbolism, sci-fi aesthetics, demonic imagery, Renaissance masterpieces, anatomical illustrations a la Da Vinci, classical Greek and Roman sculptures, Baroque extravagance, tattoo artistry, and adorned saints, his work resonates with a haunting beauty that defies categorisation.

Screenshot 2024 02 22 At 14.48.39 - Nerd Blog - 3 Minutes With Billelis
3 Minutes With Billelis 68 - Nerd Blog

Bill’s recognisable artworks have captivated audiences across the world, propelling him into collaborations with industry titans such as Nike, Warner Music, Netflix, Red Bull, Sony, and Apple, among a myriad of others. Through these partnerships, he continues to push the boundaries of artistic expression, leaving an indelible mark on the creative landscape.

We sat down with Bill for a cup of tea, (yes he drinks tea… just like us 🙂 ) to find out more about the most prominent moments of his career and hope for the future.

What’s the most exciting place one of your artworks have lived in?

Choosing between Times Square and The Dart Milan art gallery is a tough decision! Both hold significant moments in my career and are iconic in their own right.

What is something you’re looking forward to exploring or learning more about when it comes to your craft?

Discovering the fulfilment that arises from achieving a genuine balance between life and work has been a game-changer. Over the past decade, I immersed myself in work, but it took a toll on my personal life. Recently, I’ve made a conscious effort to prioritize my free time, and surprisingly, it has led to heightened productivity and inspiration. It’s as if setting self-imposed deadlines at the age of 35 has proven to be incredibly effective for me.

Image00003 - Nerd Blog - 3 Minutes With Billelis
3 Minutes With Billelis 71 - Nerd Blog

Do you have any dream illustration projects? What are they?

We love a glass ceiling, don’t we? I have been so fortunate to work with many aspects of Hollywood and the gaming industry, coupled with the music industry and publishing book cover scene, I found myself spoilt for choice.

I have recently really enjoyed working on more collaborative projects like beer can artwork, stage art for bands and personal illustrations.

Screenshot 2024 02 22 At 14.48.16 - Nerd Blog - 3 Minutes With Billelis
3 Minutes With Billelis 72 - Nerd Blog

I would love to create a coffee table book with my entire body of work, but focusing on commercial opportunities I would have to say more gaming projects and perhaps a curveball would be fashion. The tangible aspect of my work out in the world is very fulfilling.

See more from Billelis on his NERD Productions profile.

Animate! With Alicja Jasina

12 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina

Animators are the magicians of filmmaking – to animate means, quite literally, to bring to life after all. So today, we wanted to celebrate one of our animation directors Alicja Jasina, who fills our creative hearts every time we get to speak or see her work!

A line is a dot that went for a walk”, as famously stated by Paul Klee, deeply resonates with Alicja’s artistic journey. For her, a line serves both as a medium and a distinct way of thinking – often defying conventional linear perspectives. Alicja’s films received many prestigious recognitions, including the shortlist at Oscars in the Animated Short Film category for her short film “Once Upon a Line”. 

With a blend of elegant designs, sharp wit, and a unique conceptual approach, Alicja’s boundless creativity consistently captivates and engages audiences. Commercially, her line animations have earned her campaigns for renowned brands including Google, Casper, Disney, and Airbnb.

Screenshot 2024 02 01 At 11.25.53 1 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Animate! With Alicja Jasina 89 - Nerd Blog

How did you first fall in love with animation?

Animation is part of my everyday diet, though I don’t always consume it as ferociously as in the picture below :D.

I vividly recall my first time at school at Kingston Uni when I crafted a few frames in Flash, creating the illusion of movement – it was truly mind-blowing.

For me, in animation, the focus isn’t solely on a single frame, not even on the in-betweens, but also on what’s in between the frames – the flow, the potential, something hard to express, less defined, more ‘in the movement’.

At times, I catch myself getting caught up in the technical aspects of animation. That’s why I prefer to keep it simple – to stay grounded and remember the core essence of what I do.

To this day, I remain intrigued by the concept of motion, and I sometimes conduct quick film experiments, treating my body as if it were an animation element – akin to being part of software moved by a cursor.

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

It was my thesis project created at the University of Southern California, “Once Upon a Line.” It received numerous awards and was shortlisted for an Oscar. This recognition brought up many work opportunities and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue this career.

14 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Animate! With Alicja Jasina 94 - Nerd Blog

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

Energy and thought behind it.

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?

Screenshot 2024 02 01 At 12.15.49 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Turbo Love trailer

“Turbo Love” was a fun personal film with a well-defined concept behind it – the kind of project I like. The real challenge for me was the shoot day.

Screenshot 2024 02 07 At 15.08.50 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Animate! With Alicja Jasina 95 - Nerd Blog

I asked the crew to redo certain shots many times to achieve the precise outcome I envisioned for my animation. There were moments when I sensed some frustration from the DP – you can see it reflected in his expression in the picture above :D. But perfection we did achieve!

Screenshot 2024 02 07 At 15.09.49 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Animate! With Alicja Jasina 96 - Nerd Blog

I learned that providing explicit instructions to our actress, Dominika, about each gesture might not be the most effective strategy for  the most satisfying performance. Unlike my animated characters, who don’t require such independence. Although at times, they do take charge and start to take actions by themselves – that’s when the real magic happens, in my opinion.

Screenshot 2024 02 07 At 15.10.41 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Directing on a live shoot was a truly unique experience, quite distinct from my usual routine of drawing on my Cintiq. That’s when I feel I have proper control of my work. Just like in the illustration above, during the creative process, I like to be comfy and keep my feet warm 🙂

I also really enjoyed working on Swiss Life.
Screenshot 2024 02 01 At 12.46.50 1 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Animate! With Alicja Jasina 97 - Nerd Blog

What sort of briefs or projects do you find more personally satisfying to work on?

Something “in line with my line”, which is a client hiring me specifically for my distinctive style. This was the case when I was approached to direct a commercial for Swiss Life bank. The client had liked my previous films a lot and desired the minimal, quirky, “smart” line animation that defines my work. When you see a big “chunk of yourself” in a bigger campaign like this, it is truly satisfying.

Airbnb1 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Animate! With Alicja Jasina 98 - Nerd Blog

Currently, I’m immersed in the creation of a short film with the potential to evolve into a show, supported by the Polish Film Institute and Pomeranian Film Fund. It tells a story of a 20-year-old Lotar who is crushed and overwhelmed by the reality around him and through immersing himself in rap music, he gradually discovers his voice. I’m lucky to be working with a talented crew of animators; without them, it would be hard to pull through – the aesthetics are much more intricate than my usual work. Even at the design stage, there were moments when I felt I might be buried under the layers of the project :D.

Screenshot 2024 02 07 At 15.15.19 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Animate! With Alicja Jasina 99 - Nerd Blog


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

Illustration and art. I love being outdoors as well – running, biking, roller-skating, hiking – that all gives me a breath of “fresh air”, inspiring new ideas to bring into my creative practice. Nature, traveling, spending time with friends – all that recharges my batteries.

18 - Nerd Blog - Animate! With Alicja Jasina
Animate! With Alicja Jasina 100 - Nerd Blog

And to finish off, tell us a NERDy fact about yourself!

Recently, I enrolled in a course in Spanish law – pretty NERDy, right?

See more from Alicja here.

Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden to the NERD Productions Family!

Screenshot 2024 01 25 At 13.36.33 - Nerd Blog - Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden To The Nerd Productions Family!

The winner of Portrait of Britain 2024 and now a part of the Museum of Youth Culture, we’re excited to welcome Ellie to our growing photography roster. From documenting British subcultures to partnering with brands like Adidas and Nike, Ellie’s work resonates globally.

Her unique touch lies in her use of film processes, adding a certain depth to her storytelling. She sparks conversations, challenges stereotypes, and crafts to create authentic narratives.

We sat down to chat about her inspiration and favourite pieces!

12418 23893 0 1693822988 - Nerd Blog - Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden To The Nerd Productions Family!
Portrait Of Britain 2024 ’Reiss Nelson – Versus”

Your focus primarily lies in capturing people, especially through portraiture. What draws you to this particular craft?

A fascination and interest in people, wanting to learn from and understand everyone & anyone around me!

Tell us about your favourite project to date and why it has a sweet spot in your heart.

The first long-term project I worked on was photographing and interviewing women in the grime scene. I was in university when I started it and was still very much learning how to take photographs and had never interviewed anyone before. I learnt so much from that project, how to create a visual style through my imagery, how to organise shoots, how to design and self-publish a photo-book, as well as learning so much about myself, those I was photographing and the scenes I was immersed in. That project will always have a special place in my heart, and is a reminder of how far I’ve come as a photographer on my journey.

Thumb 04 12 23 11 32 25 - Nerd Blog - Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden To The Nerd Productions Family!
Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden To The Nerd Productions Family! 111 - Nerd Blog

Are there any emerging photography styles/trends you are currently interested in and looking to introduce to your work?

I’m interested in taking a deeper socially engaged approach to my work, making it a more collaborative experience. Whether that’s through adding elements they’ve created, such as their own artwork or writing, or working together to create an aesthetic that they feel honestly represents them in an authentic way.

What are your career hopes and goals for 2024?

I would love to start a new social documentary project, and to hopefully get it funded.

Screenshot 2024 01 25 At 13.00.03 - Nerd Blog - Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden To The Nerd Productions Family!
Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden To The Nerd Productions Family! 112 - Nerd Blog

And to finish off, tell us a NERDY fact about yourself.

I get very excited about alternative printing methods, for instance taking a two-day algae printing workshop with photographer Laura Pannack last summer. So much fun!

Screenshot 2024 01 25 At 13.30.33 - Nerd Blog - Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden To The Nerd Productions Family!
Welcoming Photographer Ellie Ramsden To The Nerd Productions Family! 113 - Nerd Blog

See more from Ellie here.

NERD Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico

Screenshot 2023 12 18 At 11.57.21 - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico

Coming in hot is a new signing at NERD Productions – fashion, beauty & editorial director Rodney Rico. With an honors degree in Filmmaking from Kingston School of Art, Rodney made his mark crafting videos for top magazines and luxury brands worldwide. Inspired by classic films and French New Wave cinema, Rodney’s style stands out from the rest and we can’t wait to see his next creative adventure as part of our creative family. We sat down with Rodney to chat through our ‘get to know’ questions and what can we say, he really is a true NERD!

How would you describe your approach to storytelling and visual style as a director?

I’m still very traditional when it comes to filmmaking—I try to be efficient but also bring a sense of realism. I can think of many ways to set up my camera movements to convey the visual storytelling, but I usually end up just holding the camera (handheld), and it becomes more personal to the viewer.

Screenshot 2023 12 18 At 12.14.55 - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico
Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico 121 - Nerd Blog

Tell us about your favourite project to date and why it has a sweet spot in your heart.

I wrote an essay about Disney as part of my final year project, specifically about The Little Mermaid (1989). I was approached by the producer who was organizing an editorial shoot with an actor starring in the Live Action version, so I was super keen to join. It was a full-circle moment, and I was happy with the results.

Screenshot 2023 12 18 At 12.18.02 - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico
Watch the commercial here.

If your life was a movie, what would its genre be?

I’m a big horror fan, but I wouldn’t say I want my life to be like a horror movie—maybe more of a romance. Romanticising life keeps me happy in general, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Screenshot 2023 12 18 At 12.21.10 - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico
Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico 122 - Nerd Blog

What are your career hopes and goals for 2024?

I want to work closer with different talents and get to know them better on a personal level before a shoot. I really want to capture their essence and mix my own personal style into it.

Screenshot 2023 12 18 At 12.22.15 - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico
Watch the commercial here.

And to finish off, tell us a NERDY fact about yourself.


Ooooh, I’m a big Marvel fan, but that’s a whole other story.

Screenshot 2023 12 18 At 12.23.27 - Nerd Blog - Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico
Nerd Productions Welcomes Live Action Director Rodney Rico 123 - Nerd Blog

See Rodney’s profile here.

Film ‘The Law of The Sea’: Advocating for Asylum Seekers and Global Compassion

Screen Shot 2023 09 25 At 11.45.53 Pm - Nerd Blog - Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion

We find ourselves in a world where asylum seekers face formidable challenges, where political decisions can exacerbate their plight, as evidenced by recent developments in the UK.

We sat down with Elmaz Ekrem to talk about her film ‘The Law of the Sea’ that makes us shed light on the interconnectedness of the world crises, urging us all to reflect on the choices we make as a society and to embrace the notion that compassion and empathy must guide our actions in these turbulent times.

Screen Shot 2023 09 25 At 11.47.10 Pm - Nerd Blog - Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion
Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion 131 - Nerd Blog

What is the story behind making ‘The Law of the Sea’ ?

This film started life as a graduate project but ended up being televised by Channel 4 as part of their Random Acts series in 2016. It is not a pleasant origin story.

In the summer of 2015, the European refugee crisis was escalating in response to the civil war and attacks by ISIL in Syria. I was on holiday in Turkey. That September, the bodies of drowned children washed ashore a few hundred miles away from where I sat on the beach.

The sadness and grief I felt were overwhelming and I decided I needed to use the opportunity to make my graduation film about this. To make a film about anything else felt like an act of inhumanity. How could I not acknowledge what was happening in the world?

Screen Shot 2023 09 25 At 11.46.34 Pm - Nerd Blog - Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion
Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion 132 - Nerd Blog

The team went to Lesvos, one of the Greek islands to receive thousands of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea,and interviewed many people involved in the migrant crisis from volunteers to medics to fishermen. It took a lot of interviews before we found the angle of the documentary and it emerged while translating and transcribing the interviews. We realised that the perspective of the fisherman of Lesvos had been rescuing refugees while going about their usual schedules, and spoke of their unique and heroic experiences with the same level of nonchalance as describing their occupation.

The film, once a dream born out of empathy, found its way to Channel 4, where it would be broadcasted to a wider audience, touching hearts and minds around the world in December 2016.

Screen Shot 2023 09 25 At 11.43.17 Pm - Nerd Blog - Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion
Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion 133 - Nerd Blog

What would you like to share to our audience about advocating for migrants and refugees?

After making this film, using art, documentary and filmmaking as a form of activism to advocate for migrants, refugees or displaced indigenous communities became the forefront of my practice, and something I’d like to share is how the climate crisis is something that intersects through humanitarian and social injustices. 

A quote from the Zurich Group on how conflict worsens the climate crises, or vice versa:”This domino effect was felt in Syria, where the desertification of formerly fertile farming land between 2006 and 2010 meant crop yields plummeted, 800,000 people lost their income and 85 percent of the country’s livestock died. As people lost their livelihoods, food prices soared and 1.5 million rural workers moved to the city to find jobs. Those left behind facing poverty were an easy target for recruiters from the Islamic State… societal issues caused by climate change worked to exacerbate existing tensions. The result was a conflict that fueled the world’s worst refugee crises in decades with around 6.6 million Syrians (roughly a quarter of the population) forced to flee their country.”

Screen Shot 2023 09 26 At 12.47.10 Am - Nerd Blog - Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion
Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion 134 - Nerd Blog

My main message is ‘REFUGEES ARE WELCOME’, and should be granted safe passage. But if you’re reading this you probably agree with me.

The horrible truth is that there are people who disagree. As recently as August 2023, the UK home secretary Suella Braverman refused to endorse a scheme that would help asylum seekers in the UK, despite it being described by the UN as “more humane” while she pursues increased detention capacity for immigrants, a programme which is estimated to cost billions. 

As we navigate the climate emergency, we must recognise that global conflict and migration are intrinsically linked. Together, we can create a world where refugees are not only welcomed but embraced, where the threads of compassion bind us as a global community, and where the darkest of times can give rise to the brightest of futures.

Screen Shot 2023 09 25 At 11.46.54 Pm - Nerd Blog - Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion
Film 'The Law Of The Sea': Advocating For Asylum Seekers And Global Compassion 135 - Nerd Blog

Welcome, Justine!

Justine

Introducing Justine, the latest addition to our NERDy family! Going by the motto ‘if it can be crafted, it must be made’, Justine is a dog-loving and an award-winning director with a diverse portfolio, ranging from heartwarming moments to action-packed car sequences.

Get to know Justine in just 3 mins below! 


What are 2 things our readers should know about you?

  1. I used to teach kids’ drama lessons to raise money for my gap year. It was  my “Steve Jobs typography” moment.  At the time, I thought it was to make a quick bit of cash and it ended up being a catalyst for a lot of my career/work.
  2. I love the research and pitch process as much as the production process – it is where the heart of all work starts.  It is a time for learning, discovering and dreaming (before all those pesky logistics set in).
1274 Rajah Stills Lr - Nerd Blog - Welcome, Justine!
Welcome, Justine! 144 - Nerd Blog

Tell us a short story of how you became a director and your journey so far.

After studying stop motion animation, I landed a job in the research department at one a big production company.  The thinking was that no one would let me do stop-motion unless I could direct real live people.

I spent a few years cutting my teeth in creative research and becoming an advertising NERD. My catchphrases are all still from those good old ads and they make sense to no one except my husband, bless him.

B28C8E07 D83A 4525 A64C 2F8Bef2405Ee - Nerd Blog - Welcome, Justine!
Welcome, Justine! 145 - Nerd Blog

About 8 years ago, a producer I had met through this research journey, the very brave Brenda Wilson, approached me to start a company and we became an all-female partnership along with production legend, Lebo Mabuela.

The three of us built our reel from scratch and found niches we never thought we would – kids & cars being top of the list.

My research background opened many doors into conceptual and smart work and we managed to pull off some super interesting work like Siemens Fabric (through King James).

F7821456 10C5 4E36 B407 48907662Cbf1 - Nerd Blog - Welcome, Justine!
Welcome, Justine! 146 - Nerd Blog

Tell us about your favourite project to date and why it has a sweet spot in your heart.

It must be a spot for ‘Toyota’ – MARS.

Creatively, the job spoke to so many things I love – cinema, landscapes, kids, storytelling, science vibes…who DOESN’t want to nerd out in Star Wars land?

Screenshot 2023 09 01 At 13.33.35 - Nerd Blog - Welcome, Justine!
Welcome, Justine! 147 - Nerd Blog

Personally, it was remarkable to scout and shoot in such an isolated part of South Africa. The landscapes were truly out of this world. Filming in harsh environments with day time temperature going up to 39C and torrential downpours the night before shoot, comes with its own unique set of challenges, but motivating crew to work through it and achieving the most gorgeous shots makes those days extra sweet.

8Ebb6A33 8D83 4416 A161 3627E10645B4 - Nerd Blog - Welcome, Justine!
Welcome, Justine! 148 - Nerd Blog

And to finish off, tell us a NERDY fact about yourself.

There are few things that are not NERDY about me. 🙂  I love anything that will keep my hands busy – embroidery, paper flowers – if it can be crafted, it must be made.

23C4385 - Nerd Blog - Welcome, Justine!
Welcome, Justine! 149 - Nerd Blog

See Justine’s profile here.

Unveiling the Enchanting SpinMania campaign: How NERD’S Director Light & Mathematics Weaved Magic and Charm in This Fantastical Commercial

Migros Still1 - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial

Step into a world where magic, laughter, and creativity converge. Join us as we uncover the magic behind the making of SpinMania – a journey that promises laughter, wonder, and a truly enchanting experience. Discover a captivating journey of a director whose background includes legendary animated shenanigans featured in Hollywood franchises like Madagascar and Shrek.

Light & Mathematics aka Peter S, as someone who has contributed to iconic franchises like Harry Potter and Star Wars, how do you plan to infuse the magic of those worlds into this commercial while still keeping it fresh and original?

I approach every project as an opportunity for world-building and storytelling. Who are these little characters? Where do they live? How do they move, play, and explore? In the case of this commercial, my goal was to draw upon the whimsical charm and fantastical elements of these renowned franchises in order to imbue these fantasy figures with a life all their own.

Migros Still2 - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial
Click the image to see the spot

Drawing inspiration from the rich storytelling and imaginative settings of the Hollywood films I’ve contributed to, I sought to create a world that resonates with audiences on a nostalgic level, evoking the same sense of fantastical, somewhat medieval wonder these beloved franchises offer. At the same time, I aimed to introduce a unique and innovative narrative that captures the spirit of Migros and the playful concept of spinning top characters.

Migros Still6 - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial
Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light & Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial 162 - Nerd Blog

It’s a delicate balance – maintaining the action and humour that fans of these franchises adore while weaving in new layers of creativity that elevate the commercial to its own level. Using classic story-telling techniques, we build on a solid foundation of narrative fundamentals, while introducing new and clever ways for the characters to interact. We want to keep the audience captivated by the new ways they interact with each other, and the vast world around them.

Ultimately, my experiences have taught me the art of storytelling and world-building. With this commercial, I aimed to channel that knowledge into a project that captures the heart of the Migros brand so beloved by the Swiss viewers, delighting and surprising audiences while offering them a truly enchanting experience that feels both familiar and original.

Characters Migros - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial
Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light & Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial 163 - Nerd Blog

The concept of SpinMania sounds exciting! The medieval festival setting with knights, mermaids, and Cyclops sounds right up your street. Can you share any quirky behind-the-scenes anecdotes or fun moments from the set that capture the playful atmosphere of the commercial?

One of the most memorable moments transpired during our early character-testing phase. As we explored how the various spinning top characters interacted, we had a whimsical idea to infuse even more drama and excitement into the narrative. While the unexpected twist in the script was that the Mermaid emerged as the victorious champion, we thought it might make things even more fun if we drew the scene out and had them collide more than once, with the losing characters flying entirely out of the scene.

Progression Migros1 - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial
Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light & Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial 164 - Nerd Blog

Picture this: the characters spinning, twirling, and manoeuvring in an epic battle, and then, with a carefully calculated spin, the Mermaid comes out on top – quite literally! Such a good twist, and since we dialled the action by extending the duel scene, the laughter and cheers from the creative team helped us realise that this approach injected an extra layer of fun and surprise into the storyline.

Peter Bts - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial
Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light & Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial 165 - Nerd Blog

This playful experimentation not only added an element of excitement to the commercial’s concept but also perfectly captured the essence of the entire production process. These moments of spontaneous creativity define the spirit of SpinMania and genuinely reflect the dynamic and imaginative approach we took in bringing these characters to life.

How did you plan to add unexpected comedic elements that take the audience by surprise and leave them laughing?

One instance where we’ve harnessed the power of surprise and humor is with the character interactions. Take the playful duel between the characters, for example. In a sudden twist, the Cyclops, after being skillfully knocked out of the ring by the Mermaid, ends up soaring skyward, landing comically in a tree. This unexpected turn of events alone should get the audience chuckling, but the comedic touch doesn’t end there!

As the Cyclops settles into the nest, his rather abrupt landing inadvertently prompts a tiny Phoenix chick to emerge from its egg. This whimsical touch adds a layer of lightheartedness. It creates a delightful visual gag that catches the audience off guard, sparking genuine laughter while introducing and highlighting another of the collectable toys.

Migros Still5 - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial
Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light & Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial 166 - Nerd Blog

These unexpected comedic elements, carefully woven into the narrative, aim to surprise the viewers and evoke genuine amusement. By leveraging creative twists like the Cyclops and the Phoenix Chick, we ensure that SpinMania is not only visually captivating but also a source of true delight, engaging the audience in a way that’s both memorable and light-hearted.

Migros Gif 19 - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial
Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light & Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial 167 - Nerd Blog

With the rise of humorous ads, how do you see the evolving role of humour in advertising today compared to traditional approaches?

Humour in advertising has evolved significantly with the rise of humorous ads most recently, moving from a sporadic element to a strategic cornerstone. Unlike traditional approaches that convey information directly, humour engages audiences universally and memorably through positive emotions, kind of like what we do in films made for younger audiences like Madagascar and Ice Age. It captures attention in today’s media-rich environment, fostering emotional connections and brand loyalty without being overly sales-y. Humorous ads entertain, humanise, and amplify brand personality, creating relatable narratives that resonate and endure. In a landscape where authenticity matters, humour is a powerful tool to forge lasting and enjoyable connections with modern audiences.

Migros Still4 - Nerd Blog - Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light &Amp; Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial
Unveiling The Enchanting Spinmania Campaign: How Nerd’s Director Light & Mathematics Weaved Magic And Charm In This Fantastical Commercial 168 - Nerd Blog

In a world saturated with ads, what is the single most important thing when making a commercial you want to be remembered?

The most critical factor in creating a memorable commercial is the ability to evoke a genuine emotional response. Amidst the multitude of ads, those that elicit a heartfelt emotion – whether it’s laughter, inspiration, empathy, or awe – are the ones that etch themselves into the viewer’s memory. An emotional connection transcends fleeting visuals and catchy slogans, leaving a lasting imprint that resonates long after the ad has ended. Crafting a narrative that tugs at the heartstrings or triggers a relatable sentiment is the key to making a commercial that stands out and lives on in peoples’ minds and hearts.

  • Full Credits:
  • Client – Migros:
    Sara Schneider (Promotions & Activation Department Manager), Stephanie Künzler (Promotions & Activation Project Manager), Delia Candolo (Junior Promotions & Activation Project Manager), Kathrin Lamm (Digital Project Manager), Celina Bernasconi (Media Project Manager).
  • Agency- Wirz Group:
    Lorenz Clormann, Thomas Kurzmeyer, Chantal Heimo, Adrian Busse, Mark Stahel, Zara Velchev, Evelyn Schellenberg, Luigi Vitiello, Nico Keramaris, Cosima Lang, Naomi Meran, Tim Lieberherr, Florian Joller, Vanessa Lehmann-Spalleck, David Offermann, Janna Löhr, Eva Bachmann, Erasmo Palomba, Nadja Kilchhofer, Ruwanie Hayoz, Giovanni Bucca, Yussef Serrat, Oliver Fäs, Sonja Jegen, Karin Gartmann, Rahel Signer, Corinne Räber.
  • production Stills, DOOH, OOH, Print and Film production:
    NERD Productions (production company), Light & Mathematics (director), Jingle Jungle (sound studio), Federico Bettini/Colin Schmid (music composition).