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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
NERD Productions’ resident Creative Producer Ira Giorgetti spills the tea on art, producership and being a multi-hyphenate in London
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.
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.
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:
An exciting new addition to the NERD Productions family is Mono Ghose! He grew up playing sports, reading books and watching TV, sometimes too much. But, without a particular taste for science and math, Mono stuck to exploring his artistic side, and here we are.
Interested in football, gaming, reading, and quietly being urged to play the piano, which he never enjoyed, Mono inadvertently fell in love with the Spanish guitar.
Having Indian heritage, Mono considers Indian storytelling and film tradition a formative part of his upbringing. It’s also a source of his passion for travelling and a diverse perspective. Adding to his already colourful heritage, ‘growing up in the UK and having the experience of being an outsider meant, by will or circumstance, I didn’t have to follow the crowd, which helped me develop a sharp outside-of-the-box thinking and broadened my cultural awareness.’
Mono graduated with a MA in Scriptwriting from Goldsmiths. He studied the best filmmakers from around the globe and learned how to structure and write screenplays across various media. ‘The takeaway was seeing the film as a language for the first time, which has drastically changed how I approach the art form.’
His first industry experience fell on a two-week summer school at Publicis Advertising Agency in Baker Street, London during his Bachelor studies. It was an intensive introduction to the world of ad agencies and how to plan and manage a campaign from scratch. Focused on account management Mono quickly gravitated to the talks and sessions with the creatives, which is where he got the first insight into what was the real direction and this is where he wanted to take his career.
One of the most important lessons he took away since the beginning of his directing career was how to deal with failure and rejection. ‘Whether it’s a pitch, sale or script feedback, I learned to see it as an opportunity to develop my skill set and resilience. It’s also a good test to see how badly you want this as your career including all the ups and downs.’
Mono’s first professional project was a spot for Selfridges with BMB Agency. It was a 60-second spot he directed to advertise Selfridges’ new personal shopping ‘Wonder Room’ area in-store. It was his first big spot and he remembers how everyone waited patiently for Mono to call action, which he eventually did. It was challenging to juggle the different stakeholders from the agency and client-side while maintaining a creative focus with actors and crew. ‘ This balance is something all directors must go through and is a technique I’ve come to excel at and enjoy. ‘
Like nearly every director, Mono had his life/career-changing moment when his short film ‘Lost Bullets’ was long-listed for Oscar. It opened a lot of doors in Mono’s career and got him in front of some industry heavy hitters. The story still resonates with people today and stands up in terms of cinematic quality to other leading shorts.
In directing, Mono loves working with talented people to craft and tell great stories.
‘I want to achieve impeccable storytelling, draw tight performances and create atmospheric, stunning visuals to match the narrative.’ To keep himself fresh and caught up with everything in the industry Mono watches a lot of ads, good and bad from all over the world. Not hitting the skip button on YouTube and varying his tastes, for example: keeping up to date with exhibitions and art galleries, music, world cinema, NFTs and gaming.
The creative industry, like any other, is full of good and bad. Mono is not a big fan of the “traditional” route to becoming a commercials director. This is changing with directors coming from other disciplines and backgrounds. The industry could also take calculated risks in storytelling and casting.
On a positive note, the creative industry has never-ending opportunities to tell stories across new formats and media. ‘I’m excited about working with brands open to fresh ideas and storytelling methods.’
Everyone takes their inspiration from somewhere, for Mono, some of it comes from his favourite director Bong Joon-ho. His movies are on the list of those you want to watch again and again to see what’s running underneath (literally in ‘Parasite’) and feel like you’ve been in a filmmaking masterclass after it’s over.
Outside of work, Mono likes keeping fit, reading, playing the guitar and indie games when time permits. Apart from directing, Mono takes time to perfect his travel photography, creating his own game and poetry. He also particularly enjoys the following creations that you might take a note of:
Film: Bong Joon-ho. His stories are thought-provoking and original.
Ridley Scott. A master of blending visuals, music and story to create iconic cinematic moments.
Books: George Orwell and Milan Kundera:
They write in an accessible style which is also ironic, prophetic and timeless.
Gaming: the creators (Playdead) of the games ‘Inside’ and ‘Limbo’. These indie games show how the atmosphere and a mysterious style with little to no dialogue can carry an entire story.
Lastly, ‘I’m sure, like most artists, I’m driven by the impulse to create a great piece of work that resonates both with the audience and personally.’ We hope you enjoyed an insight into who Mono Ghose is and are looking forward to seeing what NERDy things he creates in the future.
Exciting times at NERD! We had a chance to catch up with our latest signing creative powerhouse and stop-motion director Rachael Olga Lloyd. We spoke to Rachael about everything and anything under the sun, we hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we did!
Growing up as a very British kid with a relaxed Christian upbringing Rachael was always a cheeky one with an overactive imagination. Art was one of Rachael’s obsessions; she would make up fantasy stories, draw creatures, witches, and unicorns as a creative outlet. Rachael even had her own little club called ‘The Creepy Club’ where she would tell horror stories at her local school to anyone who would listen.
All these fantasy and horror stories made for a fun childhood and Rachael grew up as a mixture of extrovert and introvert, often switching between those two. Happy-go-lucky, she’s always in touch with her inner child and that’s apparent in her work. She’s both her own harshest critic and her biggest fan!
Rachael kicked off her directing experience back at the university where she was studying Animation and her group of friends won a pitch to make a film for Fair Trials charity. It was her first job as a Director. Getting into stop motion was kind of an accident, allowing her to discover experimental stop motion and realise this is something she wanted to explore. Learning the craft is a continuous process and she always learns something new on the job (as well as discovering things on YouTube as she started out). “Make make make” is the approach Rachael stuck to to perfect her technique and create the stunning films she shares with the world.
The first job for Fair Trials showed Rachael that she can do what she truly loves and get paid for it too. A pivotal piece of work for her was the first film: The Lonely Mountain. After making that it felt like all the pieces fell into place and she understood that animation was what she wanted to spend her life doing. As an artist, she always tries to push her style towards something new – this time, music videos for Frances were a chance to explore her craft even more. Exploring one’s personal style and applying it to their commercial work was the ideal way for development.
As a stop-motion director, a lot of craft is done by hand and this is what Rachael enjoys the most. Seems like a perfect situation doesn’t it? She calls it ‘therapeutic and rewarding as you always have a physical thing to show at the end for your time spent.’ Stop motion involves a lot of problem-solving like making the idea into reality and finding physical things that reflect exactly what you have on your mind which happens to be ‘the most rewarding part of the whole job’ for Rachael.
Speaking of the nature of the job, uncertainty, when the work is slow, does bring its own insecurities, however, Rachael would hate to be a 9 to 5 person. The free time allows her to push her personal style and technique which always comes in handy for any project. Keeping herself fresh and open to new experiences, she enjoys hanging out with industry friends, attending festivals and building connections with people on production.
We see a lot of contradiction when dealing with stop motion: ‘I always find it really sad when stop motion becomes so honed and perfected that most people don’t even know its stop motion!’ and for that reason ‘stop-motion is one of the hardest mediums to use so why use it unless you fully utilize what is so unique about it; the handmade feel and the imperfections.’
We always get excited about stop motion and it is very refreshing to see more and more stop motion animation spots where ‘stop motion being released that is new, different and not aimed at children.’
As in any industry, there’s always space for improvement and ‘green lighting and encouraging more experimental and varied animation is appreciated. There will always be a lot of the same stuff being recycled as it is safe and lucrative. But more risks and pushing boundaries would help. ‘
Being inspired by women in the industry, Rachael feels ‘women directors who have smashed through that cautiousness and have the complete confidence to believe in themselves and their work, and that inspires me a lot as I have had a struggle with it myself.’
Outside of the animation world, Rachael is very much a multi-dimensional individual who likes to hike, watch TV series (Korean dramas) and play computer games. Professional passion still doesn’t go away when thinking about free time as she enjoys all different handcrafts, collecting home pieces during her travels and cats!
Being inspired by Tom Rosenthal and Keaton Henson, Rachel’s taste in music, again, helps her explore different themes in her work. On a nerdy side, ‘Surprise, surprise, I’m a massive nerd. I love gaming in my spare time, RPGs, board games and DnD if I have the time.’
Having followed through Rachel’s story, we see her being always fulfilled by exploring her own style, inspired by everything around her and forever eager to explore. Her passion and drive for her craft make her a perfect match for NERD’s roster, and we could not be more thrilled to have her join our talented team!
Meet a few of NERD’s Talent & New Biz team – Lydia Kaufman, Maria Leal and Lorena Perez!
They are responsible for discovering new talent, executing NERD’s new business strategy and pitching to our agency & brand partners across the globe. Let’s dive deep into how they work their magic and help make NERD what it is today!
What was your first new business win? ML: My first win was with a lovely team from an agency in Spain around 12 years ago. While it was my first ever project and I got a little stressed, everything went swimmingly and to this day the team from that agency are good friends!
LP: It was around 12 years ago when I was working on breaking into the Spanish market. It was a job for the local government in Barcelona and my first ever win! I remember how frighteningly exciting it was, and even though I felt a little anxious I soon realised that everything was going fine and there was really nothing to worry about.
LK: My first ever business win was on a job for Sony with the team from Saatchi and a directing duo called Si & Ad. It was my first job in the industry, and it was their first job too – overall very exciting and a great start to doing what I love!
What was the best piece of advice you got early on?
Everyone: Do your best, be honest and never give up! Persistence is key.
How has the business of ‘selling’ in the creative industry changed since you started?
ML: Budgets used to be bigger and the projects were less fast-paced. Nowadays we have to work quicker and with fewer resources but in a way that’s had the added bonus of making us even more creative than before 😉
LP: We are presented with plenty of new opportunities as businesses adapt to the needs of the market – a bigger online presence with new platforms like TikTok and other forms of social media. Working from home in a way has made things easier as you can connect with just about anyone from around the world.
LK: The main change happened with the rise of digital- these days we can just send a link with a showreel! When I was starting out one had to visit all agencies in person, find a TV to show the work and make sure everything is in working order.
How do you usually find new talent, is there a secret NERD recipe to it?
LP: I always think about creativity, diversity, passion and innovation. We need to be at the top of the game if we want to do well in the market!
LK: There is no secret recipe for finding new talent. I always look at various publications, socials, and awards, as well as just explore new work from everywhere. I also like to look into different festivals where up and coming directors usually come from.
ML: When I think about NERD’s talent, I think about freshness, a very open and receptive mind, bold and adventurous creativity, and of course a huge dose of professionalism and heaps of team spirit.
What are your thoughts about the process of pitching that the industry largely runs on?
ML: I think pitching is ok as it’s a way of communicating creatively with the agency and the client, sharing with them how we see their “baby” materialised.
LP: Clients are trusting us with their brands and they want to make sure we will take care of them. NERD’s approach is bespoke and carefully crafted for each creative brief we receive.
LK: I always thought that every company pitching for something should get a fee out of it – it’s people’s time, money, effort and I have always said that. However, we all know – you’ve got to be in it to win it!
How do you tailor your approach according to the kind of person or business you’re approaching?
ML: You always need to adapt your approach – either creatively, economically or even technically. It’s a kind of psychological test and an opportunity for you to learn and grow.
LP: I do some research on the client, the work they have done and then I choose to present what is the best for them. Then you adapt and learn to prepare for the next round. The main advantage we have is the sheer volume of visual styles and approaches for almost everything.
LK: Research and tailoring for each specific brand – every time, all the time!
New business can often mean hearing ‘no’ a lot and quite a bit of rejection – how do you keep motivated?
ML: Never take things personally. Motivation comes from being with a team and trying to bounce ideas between each other. I also find it good to do explore things outside of my professional life which helps me to remain passionate about all aspects of life.
LP: Always be positive and take the learning opportunities – always keep the relationships with the client open and continue to pitch to them. It all works, as well as the importance of understanding that there are so many reasons for not moving forward and you should not take it personally.
LK: There is always a risk of rejection, worth remembering that it is a numbers game and the good will come.
How important is the alignment between the talent and client in your opinion?
ML: It’s absolutely key, talent and client should be completely aligned! There should always be a dose of differing opinions, as this is a sane way of evolving a super creative project, though, they should always have a sense of alignment between them.
LP: If the client and talent are not aligned the project could be in jeopardy. The talent will advise the best way of achieving the results but the client needs to agree on the concepts. Teamwork makes dream work!
LK: It is vital! We have nothing without the alignment between the talent and client, the best work is created by having a perfect match.
The advertising and marketing industry often blurs the line between personal and professional friendships and relationships… does this make it easier or more difficult and delicate for you?
ML: If you act and work with honesty and integrity it can’t be difficult.
LP: You need to learn how to separate the personal and professional. Always be transparent and honest so you don’t generate false expectations.
LK: If you are friendly and can build good relationships it makes it all easier. It is always nice to know someone more personally rather than keeping it strictly professional.
NERD is known for its diverse and inclusive roster, what goes into matching the talent and client briefs ensuring you make just the right pairing?
ML: There’s a delicate balance to be struck when it comes to finding the right talent for a brief. There should be a combination of the right styles and techniques, but also there are specific briefs that require shared values and ways of seeing life – that’s when finding the perfect pair make all the sparks fly!
LP: The important thing is to really understand who is the right talent for the brief – and having diversity in the team helps bring very different ideas and perspectives.
LK: It is all about understanding what the client really wants and what their brief is about. To have the best pairing, I look at the personalities and their creative brains. A lot of it is also about gut feel – when I see a script I always have some directors pop up in my head as I am going through the brief.
In your view, what’s the key to winning projects?
ML: I think the key is trust. Your clients always need to feel that they are in good hands.
LP: The clients always need to know that we have the right solution for them and that we will do anything we can to make it work!
LK: Remaining professional, being honest, approachable and knowing that you are going to give it your 100%.
What’s your advice for anyone who’s not necessarily come up as a salesperson who’s now expected to sell or win new business as part of their role?
Everyone: Truly believe in what you are selling and try your best!