Diablo II: Resurrected – A real labor of love and respect by Billelis

Diablo II: Resurrected is a remastered port of the classic dungeon-crawler and we got to craft some truly spectacular labors of love for Blizzard’s iconic franchise.

​While working on this fiery set of artworks, Billelis focused on the importance of the franchise’s heritage, its lengthy history, and endless fan love while also managing his own creative needs and ideas. The combination of all these elements has shaped Bill’s voice within the artwork itself.

Billelis was an obvious choice for this project as there’s no one better suited to portraying such recognisable characters in this distinctly dark, mysterious, and powerful visual style!

The key visual art took around six months to create as there was a lot of back and forth communication with the client to make the piece true to the brand’s vision and legacy the game already has. Blizzard’s original artwork was created over 12 years ago and Billelis nailed the rebirth of the artwork shaping it into a whole new, contemporary style. 

For NERD Productions it was one of the most exciting projects that Billelis has worked on and we were extremely excited to support the creation of such iconic pieces. Once again, an unbelievable collaboration with the artist who truly loves the franchise and his craft.

See more from Billelis here.

Bossing It: Staying Calm During the Tough Times with Milana Karaica

Our founder and creative executive producer on working like an animal, accepting failure and partying like it’s 1995.

Milana is an active diversity and a passionate equality advocate. Having built a successful diversity-led production company, Milana champions innovative and forward-thinking company culture, focusing on empowering and nurturing accomplished as well as young talent and talent from non-traditional backgrounds.

What was your first experience of leadership? 

After being a runner for a while, I landed a cool new job – Office Manager at a busy production company in Soho. Sounds like quite a boring job if the title is anything to go by BUUUT.. I had a team of amazing runners to help me pull off the most random, eccentric production tasks as well as incredible parties, team bonding trips and sometimes even the most bizarre requests. No day was ever the same, no task was ever the same. It meant always being on your toes, continuously learning, meeting new talented people and partying like it’s 1995 every single day! 

How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be? 

This job meant that I had to interact with producers and EPs on our day to day.. They had their crew, I had mine and we had to come together to make a job happen. 

It was here that I first got the real taste of amazing leaders and also simply horrific ones too. There were those that were kind, polite and open to sharing their knowledge with others on the team regardless of their social background or what role they played in production. On the other hand, you had those that would talk to people like they were dirt on the bottom of their worn-out trendy Converse trainers! It was painful to watch, listen to and simply be in the same room with. Even though I had only little say at that point in my career, I often clashed with those individuals, perhaps even when the situation didn’t involve me at all as I just could not stand unfair behaviour! I knew I wanted to be different from them, power or no power, I did my best to be supportive but straight up at the same time, both with the ones who were mistreated and the ones that were favoured.

What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?

Being a young EP and getting so ahead too quickly! In my eyes I had the right to be there due to my relentless work energy and never saying no to a random all-night task or an unexpected challenge. With that came the need to prove myself though, to my peers whom I left behind, to older colleagues and specifically those that didn’t like me for many personal or subjective reasons – like being too young, too ethnic, or just for being from Croydon! 

I worked like an animal, day & night. Missing family gatherings, birthdays – doing conference calls at funerals… yes, I did that! However, with the recognition and praise came the ego as well. There was a point where I started to care too much about myself and the unfair treatment I was getting, even in this position and actually forgetting that so many others had it the same or worse, but had much smaller voices than I did. 

Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you?

I think three weeks into my first job in the industry I knew I would run a production company one day. Not because I wanted to lead, but because it really pissed me off how things were being managed from a clique and classist point of view and I wanted them to be done differently, based on merit and talent.

What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them? 

I hate having to let people go! It’s never nice to have to let someone go so I always try to empower people to see why they may be better at something else or be more suited to another adventure. It’s not fair to keep people on if they are not the best version of themselves as they are wasting their own time too, not just yours. 

Have you ever felt like you’ve failed whilst in charge? How did you address the issue and what did you learn from it? 

We all fail! Sometimes you don’t notice a team member is down and struggling with something, be it personal or work related. Sometimes you don’t initially pay enough attention to a problem or an unusual friction between team members. I believe it’s all a part of the process and if we couldn’t learn and improve continuously in our industry, then I would just quit! It simply means it’s got to the point you don’t care enough anymore.

In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered? 

I think honesty is the most important element of any successful relationship. We value this in our personal relationships so why not in our work collaborations? I’m not saying to share your every thought and worry, but to bring transparency while coming up with suggestions is always appreciated whichever side you are on.

As you developed your leadership skills did you have a mentor, if so who were/are they and what have you learned? And on the flip side, do you mentor any aspiring leaders and how do you approach that relationship? 

I have had a few people to look up to over the years and some of those have let me down which is always devastating while others inspired and motivated me more than I expected. I mentor a lot of young and up & coming talent and always treat those as friendships and close relationships. You really have to get to know a person to be able to see their strengths & weaknesses and how to help them get to be the best they can be. It’s a big responsibility!

It’s been a really challenging year – and that’s an understatement. How do you cope with the responsibility of leading a team through such difficult waters? 

Its not my first rodeo, ha! Sadly, I have had to lead teams through tough times before and that is one of my strengths – No matter what life throws at me, I just produce my way out of it. Staying calm and motivated in times of adversity is the best team bonding exercise you can ever ask for. You will be better for it and come out the other side with wonderful friends and more experience to add under your belt.

This year has seen the industry confronted with its lack of action/progress on diversity and inclusion. As a leader how have you dealt with this? 

As a change maker in this specific area it’s been a fantastic year for my talented Directors, Illustrators and Photographers! They are finally getting the opportunities they have been side-lined for in the past for unfair reasons and they get to have a bit more of a spotlight.

How important is your company culture to the success of your business? And how have you managed to keep it alive with staff working remotely in 2020? 

As a company that represents diverse talent, we have been a global company since our first day. Working remotely has not really meant that we have had to change a thing about how we craft. Our company culture is the only reason I started NERD, so it is the key to what we do, how we do it and why – every day! 

What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help you along your leadership journey? 

Other passionate and creative people!

NERD’s Director Rafa Cortés on the power of printing and how to find the best ideas.

Rafa dives deep into the thoughts on how to find the best possible ideas, why he needs to print the scripts and what it takes to be a guy from ‘now’,

What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

Scripts choose me! People who get in touch with me usually already know what I can do for their projects. That’s why I don’t usually get scripts that could be difficult for me to end up shooting. I feel lucky because this saves the agencies, my producers and me a lot of time used in unnecessary pitches. The scripts that catch my attention the most are those where I can really tell a little story and provoke emotions to the audience.

How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

First and foremost, I print everything. I need to see a script on paper so I can draw on it, move things around. On the first day I never try to do anything with it, I just go away from my desk and spend some time with my family to let my mind relax trying to keep the project in the back of my head till the ideas start appearing by themselves. After that, I try to imagine what points of the treatment will help me explain what I would do with it. Mechanic typing comes then, I let everything I have flow naturally into the treatment.

What I don’t do is to start the process looking for references. It might be an ego thing, but I let my mind come to something on its own, look within myself. I, of course, can come to it naturally, although it might have already been created and it is perfectly normal. I do need references anyway, no matter how much I dislike it, because I need to find a way for the agencies and the clients to visualise my proposals. Although, I still think it is good to come up with something on your own first.

Nenuco – Regalo

If the script is for a brand that you’re not familiar with/don’t have a big affinity with or a market you’re new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it? 

In my commercial work, I’m there to help sell a product/service, and to associate the companies and their brands to certain feelings or ideas. We always need to distinguish the brand from their competitors, how they’re different and how we can show it in the best possible and more effective way. There’s always a moment when I need to do some research, market research and also ask the agency/client some questions to help me understand where they are at and what they are looking for.  The best way to get a genuine, interesting spot, is to make bespoke work. 

For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

I think the most important is trust and collaboration, with everyone – producer, creative team, management, crew, etc. An important part of my job is to help solve their problems, read between the lines, and come up with the best ideas!

La Quiniela 70 Aniversario (Trio)

What type of work are you most passionate about – is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Fiction, storytelling, recreation of reality and anything that involves testimonials. Errol Morris is a director I look up to and I often think that I would feel at home facing a lot of the testimonial and commercials projects he has masterfully crafted. 

What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

One of my biggest frustrations is when people think there’s no script or mise en scene behind my work, that everything happened for real. My ability to make something that is fake seem very real is what I am also known for. But it is sometimes difficult to imagine that kind of work for people who haven’t been following the process. They usually think I am lucky with getting a lot of real stories, told by ‘real’ people, when in fact, there’s a lot of hard work in writing scripts, casting actors and all other things. I’m mostly about fiction!

What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

It was one of my personal projects, a feature film. I had a scene with one very complicated and strong actor. He had to wear a gorilla mask, you can imagine, as an actor it might be quite frustrating. Then he got really angry because of something I didn’t really understand. He is German and he started shouting in German, so what I had to deal with was a person wearing a gorilla mask, shouting in the language no one understood and I was the person in charge, who had to fix everything. What did I do? I went up to him and said “Wait a minute, do you realise I have a gorilla shouting at me in a foreign language in the middle of a set, can you help me solve this?”. After a deep pause, he smiled, we both laughed and the conflict was resolved.

La Quiniela – El Grito

How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

In the commercial world, I really fight for finding the best possible idea that works for both me and my clients. The client knows the brand, I know filmmaking, and we create harmony of those things together.

What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

I tend to be open to anything that makes me see the world from new different angles, I like meeting new people and hearing different and sometimes controversial ideas. I have different friends, I have worked with different people and I am very happy that I am able to learn from people who come from a different background than I do.

Although, I do not specifically look for anything but my doors are always open!

I mentored quite a few people who are now directors and actors. I wish I had more guys like me when I started, a mentor who would advise and help. This is essentially why I am mentoring everyone who comes to me and needs my help.

How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

I wanted to think that this pandemic would make us better than we were, same with the economic crisis. I tend to be optimistic and I have learned a few things myself.

Working from home has certainly made us appreciate our loved ones more, as well as the change in work ethic. For me, it was no new working from home, I live in Mallorca and I do most of my work from there, so I was trained to work from home for years 😀

Your work is now presented in so many different formats – to what extent do you keep each in mind while you’re working? 

It depends on every project, sometimes you need to put more effort in one of the formats and create others to support the main point of the campaign.

Depending on the format you shoot it, you always need to remember those extras to make it work across all platforms.

VW Polo – Pelota

What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

I am a guy from ‘now’. As soon as something new comes out, I will be one of the first people to try it out. I was one of the first guys in Spain who started shooting with a RedOne camera, when people were afraid of digital video, and will be happy to continue to incorporate new technologies in my work as soon as they come.

With new technologies, we should always keep ourselves at the top of the game. For me, it is applying my unique ideas to this new technology, it gives you the advantage over others and I would suggest everyone to do the same.

See more from Rafa here.

‘Must know’ facts about NERD Productions animation director Sharon Liu

Sharon Liu on visualising the core values of a brand and using her skills to enhance the power of women.

Earlier this summer NERD Productions spoke to Sharon Liu about her experiences, director tips and tricks, and a few opinions on recent changes in the world, and how it impacted her career.

 What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

I get excited by scripts that are full of emotion and might be challenging to describe in words.

How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

I read the deck over and over again, to get a feel for what the client wants to achieve (both aesthetically & technically). Then I will thoroughly do my research to find a connection between what I think would be the coolest approach but still effectively reach the client’s goal. Once I have that connection/idea in my mind, I can start sketching out some style frames. Most of the time the thinking takes longer than creating.

 If the script is for a brand that you’re not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you’re new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

I always think one of the greatest parts of being a director is that I get to work on projects/ campaigns in areas that I’m not familiar with. It keeps me curious and learning.

Therefore I take research very seriously, it helps me to visualise the core values of the brand. I compare the brand’s ad campaigns from the past to the more recent ones. Then I brainstorm with my colleagues and constantly mix and match ideas until the best creative solution appears. I will take notes about the brand’s target audiences and try to find out what people like the most from the brand so I can enhance those aspects as well as delivering the message from the campaign creatively.

Nina Simone – Colour is a beautiful thing

For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

It will have to be my producer, she forms a solid bridge between me and the clients, manages the technical side of the project so that I can execute the creative side.

What type of work are you most passionate about – is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

I’m open to all kinds of collaborations, I like to use my skills to support things I like and believe in. In particular, I like to use my skills to enhance the power of women. I really enjoy drawing and designing female characters.

What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

In the past I’ve had people comment that my work doesn’t have a ‘style’ because I don’t use the same materials/methods for every project and I don’t draw the same character over and over. I would like to think I do have a style but perhaps not in a conventional sense.
As well as being an animation director, I am an artist and I like to creatively challenge myself all the time, so that my work will consistently morph to improve and keep up with trends. I like to use different techniques/styles to create bespoke designs for every client, I think my strengths lie in an exciting use of colour and an elegant style of storytelling.

Lady Florence Boot

 How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

As a creator, I have always believed that it’s part of the fun to be able to deliver the idea in multiple ways. I see the project/idea as everyone’s baby (client, agency & production company). We all share the same goal which is to make sure the baby is safely delivered and grows healthily. Therefore I have trust that other’s opinions and criticisms are in the best interests of the project and I hope that my clients have the same confidence in me.

What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent?

I think that would be the best way forward. From my personal experience, a woman of colour in London, it would be a dream come true to see diverse talents exchanging ideas and supporting each other. I believe together we can create something really special.

Your work is now presented in so many different formats – to what extent do you keep each in mind while you’re working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

In a way, a different format means a different canvas. It’s almost impossible to keep the artistic composition the same on every screen. However I will always try to design my shots with extra artwork at the edges of the frame so there is wiggle room for me to reposition the shot if I need to.

See more from Sharon here.

NERDy Work Secrets from Lydia, Head of Business and Talent

As a production company that represents diverse talent and crafts for global clients, NERD Productions has always been progressive in everything we do! We had mastered the WFH concept way before it became a thing we all now call ‘the new normal’.

The creative industry never sleeps and we need to be at the top of the game, producing and creating inspiring visuals. To our team production is all about human connection and relationships, this is why we have Lydia. She is a ray of sunshine and that one person who always brightens up every room she ever happens to be in. We spoke to her and she shared her secrets of working and nailing it at NERD!

We hope these thoughts give you an insight into what it is like to be a NERD and rock the world of production!

  1. Our talent pool is where the magic happens. I feel motivated when I watch our directors shine, see them grow within their skillset, and the spark in their eyes when they receive the next script to work on.

  1. The importance of maintaining relationships is what numerous lockdowns have taught me. It is important to gain but also maintain those relationships with our creatives, friends, and producers. We like to have casual chats and catch-ups with our clients and talent. Good relationships always lead up to a fantastic job in the creative industry!

  1. NERD is a bunch of very creative people and we thrive when we receive exciting scripts. As a sales rep, my day-to-day life consists of lots of calls, emails, knock-backs, and cancellations. This line of work is extra rewarding, especially when you secure another wonderful project. That being said, receiving inspiring, creative scripts is one of the main points that makes me excited about work!

  1. NERD Productions is a big family. The past year has proven how close we all are and how important it is to be there for each other every step of the way. After all, we are all in the same boat and we sail together! The culture at NERD is what keeps me going – regular catch-ups, Zoom coffees, virtual parties, and that general feeling of belonging and care.

  1. Last but not least is running. This is one of those activities when I connect with my body, let it flourish, and nurture my mind. I like to get a good early morning run at least 2-3 times a week. What is better than a sense of accomplishment and endorphins early in the morning? Ready to crack on and keep winning! 

Whole Earth ‘WE’RE WITH YOU THE WHOLE WAY’

We’re proud to announce that our latest TVC for Whole Earth goes live today! This collaboration was made in peanut-buttery heaven as we love the brand’s creativity, heritage, patriotism, love of sport, and dedication to making the Earth whole again. 

There is nothing more we enjoy than using our creative skills to craft visuals for feel-good brands that have sustainability at heart.

Milana Karaica, EP.

This film was a true collaboration with creative agency Isobel featuring Joe Fraser, Holly Bradshaw, Helen Glover and Zoe Smith; four outstanding Team GB athletes living the Olympic dream and training relentlessly for the upcoming Games in Tokyo.

The tactile film transports us across the globe to a quirky, sunny and earthy animated rendition of Japan dreamt up by the animation and design team at NERD where we get a glimpse into the lives of our Team GB athletes. We feel their passion come right through the screen as we see them vault, split and heave their way to victory.

NERD’s very own Shay Hamias directed the charming, handcrafted film, his playful sense of fun and whimsy visual approach is a natural fit for the spirit of this film. 

“I had a real blast creating this film! We used hand-drawn animation, photography, cutouts and all sorts of different textures and layers to craft this mixed media universe. The hardest part was probably arranging to film the athletes as their busy schedules, difficulties with access to their usual training spaces and double-safe COVID production measures made for a real challenge!”

Shay Hamias, Director

The creative process was made particularly enjoyable by the agency team who gave us a lot of freedom to explore the best visual ways to bring different elements to life, like when we had to come up with novel ways to incorporate jars of peanut butter into an athletic routine. We also needed to find ingenious methods to get the required live-action footage, including digging up a vintage rowing machine for Helen and figuring out clever ways for Holly to simulate some vaults. Whole Earth generously provided us with an overflowing supply of peanut butter on set – we just chalk it down to the perks of being a production company!

The real fun came after all the footage was captured and we went into post-production as we needed to get just the right blend of smooth animation and organic, crunchy textures for Whole Earth’s lovable, delicious product. We wanted the visuals to be every bit as authentic as the yummy spread itself. Animating the athletes was no easy feat either, but we luckily had help from another NERD director Peque Varela. She perfected their playfully natural cartoon movements and made sure the object tracking was on point.

We were lucky to work with friendly, fantastic, best-in-class talent on every side and we’re really happy with what we’ve all created. It’s always a fun, collaborative process when we get briefs like this from perfect agency teams and we’re always down to cook up new approaches and try out-of-the-box routes! 

The spot airs nationwide from today, if you happen to see it do cheer our team on. Watch the spot here and join the journey!

NERD Productions is a creative production company in London. We represent a diverse roster of hand-picked directors, illustrators and photographers who craft memorable, engaging and award-winning animation, illustration, live-action, mixed-media and photography for television, digital, social, editorial and everything in between.

NERD’s Queer Artists on What Pride Means to Them

#PrideMonth at NERD is a special time when we reflect on our efforts to represent LGBTQIA2S+ community throughout the year 🌈 ! Our goal is to keep increasing awareness of the community, its history and identity. We are proud to represent LGBTQIA2S+ talent and spread the word about everything they do 🏳️‍🌈. This year we will be sharing a brand new series of posts called ‘NERD’s Queer Artists on What Pride Means to Them’ updated every Wednesday till the end of June!

Ira Giorgetti

Pride month is a time when people from all creeds, backgrounds and beliefs come together to uplift one another and celebrate the things we all hold in common. It’s a time of gratitude, of love, of peace and of hope. A time to unite and appreciate how far we’ve come in our fight for a more equal, diverse, inclusive and representative world. 

Pride By Ira Giorgetti

I find Pride month is a great time to reflect on my work and how it relates to, engages with and enriches the lives of others in the community. Alongside my commercial work I love to collaborate with other queer artists and discover the interesting truths and stories people in the community have got to share. My personal project in development titled ‘Transmigration’ was inspired by all the brave and amazing queer folk I’ve crossed paths with and gotten to know over the last couple of years, many of whom I met at Pride! 

Pride by Ira Giorgetti

It’s important for LGBTQIA2S+ people to celebrate their individuality, spirit and history as well as an opportunity for the entire community to come together and unashamedly be who they truly are. Celebrating Pride and diversity and the spectrum of sexuality gives everyone an opportunity to expand their thinking and grow more accepting of the people they share their cities with. It’s also a great time to just have fun and uplift those around you, some of whom may be going through more than they let on.

Ira is a London-based creative producer and photographer at NERD Productions. See more from Ira here.

Roman Bratschi

Pride means to me to be who you are and do whatever you want without living in fear or shame! I’m grateful to live my life as I want and always have the support of my friends and family.

Roman is a 3D Illustrator and Animation Director. See more from Roman here.

Shay Hamias

With pride month being taken over by commercial companies in recent years, it has lost its origins of speaking truth to power, and I feel less represented by it.

When I was asked to write about what pride month means to me, I wasn’t sure what to say. NERD, led by Milana, is truly all about diversity.
I am proud to work for a company that facilitates diversity and inclusion across race, gender and sexual identity throughout all of its projects. I am proud that I get to collaborate with people from a range of diverse backgrounds, and I’m proud that it’s done all year round, not just one month of the year.

Shay is an award-winning Animation Director and mentor at NERD. See more from Shay here.

James Gifford

For me, Pride is about love and acceptance no matter your identity. Pride welcomes anyone who’s ever been made to feel out-of-place or ashamed of who they are. I don’t think self-love should ever be quiet or hidden away, but rather celebrated loudly, proudly, and with open arms.

James is an Illustrator at NERD. See more from James here.

Ian Clarke

Visibility matters. Pride started as a protest, and that protest later became a celebration of all things LGBTQI+. People were initially quite uncomfortable seeing gay people proudly parading themselves on the streets, and refusing to apologise for being themselves. London in 2021 is a fantastic place to be a gay man, I am married to the person I love and society’s recognition of that union means everything.

However attacks against LGBTQI+ in the UK are on the rise again. In other less tolerant countries Pride parades are violently dissolved, with assistance from local police forces. Trans people face discrimination and the threat of violence on a daily basis. You see, although, some of us have legal protection and acceptance from society, many more struggle to be their authentic selves every single day.
Visibility matters. Pride should always remain a loud and proud protest.

Ian is an award-winning Animation Director. See more from Ian here.

As Pride month comes to end, we would like to remind that inclusivity and LGBTQA2S+ rights should be a priority during the whole year, both in your day-to-day life and in the workplace.

Discovering ‘Medela’, directed by Shona Auerbach.

This calming film by our Shona Auerbach was one of the projects this year that has brought the sense of normality and joy to everyone on set and in production! 

Click the image to play.

Many mums would agree with us that breastfeeding can sometimes be exhausting. This is where Medela takes over and you can have more time to enjoy a few moments doing what you desire with your little one!

This was a project shot mid-COVID featuring REAL new mums, real people! It was important to bring a sense of confidence and comfort to the set.

Let’s see how Shona pulled it off:

To be honest, I hardly noticed the restrictions other than wearing masks.  I often work with the same crew, we are a good team together, we like each other and that makes a big difference. The team I didn’t know was the agency. We had done several Zoom calls beforehand so I felt like we had spent some time together. That helped us, and I think we worked well together.

Click the image to play.

Our Founder & Executive Producer Milana Karaica also adds:

We had to capture that very special & delicate bond between a new mother and her precious little baby, now try doing that during a global pandemic. Our task was even more challenging by the fact that we wanted to capture these special moments by real mums and babies, not actors. As a new mum, myself to a 5 month old baby girl, at the time, I knew exactly how anxious mums can be and what our mums were going through during these unfamiliar times.

This is why I knew Shona was the right person for the job! If we were to get our mums to relax, trust and open up to us so we can be let in on those intimate nuggets, we needed a director that would make the set feel safe and mums looked after.

Click the image to play.

It is such a calming and relaxing film, Shona was working with little angels this time, while previously directing professional actors like Gerald Butler in her feature films.

How different was it this time for Shona?

I think the babies in Medela were great, but it helped because they were with their mothers most of the time, so they didn’t really notice whether we were filming or not.  Filming non-actors is always different and working with children is another type of direction too, so you have to approach it with a more captured attitude.  

Pre-filming, I have ideas in my head on how I would like it to play out but inevitably working with children allows some spontaneity. They are too young to direct in a formal sense and therefore I try to guide them in a direction but I am open-minded that they may give me any number of alternative moments which I have to then adapt to. Although I may be aiming for a particular vision, it may not always be possible because they are not actors, therefore I try to create a space where they can feel as comfortable as possible, allowing me to capture moments. 

Working with actors is different again, I can have an image in my head and how I would like it to play out and with the help of the actor, I can go all out to make that happen.  All these options work for me, and ultimately in the end I am looking for the most natural performances, they are just different techniques of getting it.

Enjoy the film and see more from Shona here.

Welcoming Director Lewis Andrews to the roster of talent at NERD Productions

Lewis Andrews NEW SIGNING NERD

NERD welcomes Lewis Andrews – a young director with a distinctive cinematic style, who filled our hearts with joy and excitement for future projects together!

Lewis Andrews NERD Productions on set

We asked Lewis a few questions about his career, passion, and future plans:

How did you manage to get such a large folio at such a young age?

I dropped out of school to pursue my passion for filmmaking as I was already doing what I loved. I weighed it up, is leaving my education any more of a risk than pursuing a university degree in film? The point I am trying to make here is, curating a large portfolio happened when I took the right risk for myself.

The first pivotal project in my career was a short documentary film I made for a pub in my town Hertford, called The Dog and Whistle. I was highly lauded by locals when the film came out on YouTube. I decided to start my production company Wonderfilm Pictures to help market my work. I got contacted by various people after the pub film release, including a content producer at Sky Sports. Since then I have worked with Nike, Vogue India, Puma, Red Bull, Sony Music and more.

My leads continued to expand through recommendation and word of mouth. I have been very fortunate in my career which has taken me to over 10 different countries. My portfolio is like one big spider gram of stories, mis happenings and coincidences which exemplify how the world is small and everyone knows everyone.

My first ever job on a feature film was changing the bins on set. I remember the bizarre feeling of competition, even with the other fellow bin changers in my department. As if there is anything you can possibly prove to anyone important on a film set with the insignificance of changing the bins, in order to hopefully become a world class film director one day, I had to fight for my position as top janitor first.

I have since been fortunate enough to work on some huge feature films Mission Impossible, James Bond, Fast And Furious and Cinderella with an excellent company XM2 Pursuit, world leading aerial cinematographers.

Lewis Andrews NERD Productions on set

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to pursue a career in directing?

A key thing for me has been creating opportunities for myself. Good advice I would give to someone is to be polite, sociable and introduce yourself to as many people as possible. Try to form connections in all departments because you never know who can help you and vice versa – from your fellow bin collector to an assistant director. 

If you find yourself on a set one day, right at the bottom, feeling a million miles away from where you want to be, just know it is a very fortunate position to be in. 

What inspires you?

What inspires me are ideas. I love the melding of components that make a concept great. I get inspired when people take things creatively to levels that have not been attempted before. I get inspired by ideas that are so fresh you feel irritated that you didn’t think of them first. Elon Musk is an inspiration of mine because I think he is possibly one of the most influential people alive at the moment. I think Kanye West, Drake, The Weeknd are doing marvellous things for the creative world.

There are too many actors and directors to name that inspire me. Steven Spielberg has always been at the centre of my inspiration for style of direction and editing. In particular, I think he makes his imagination feel the most real to the audience. His movies make imagination feel real. I think he captures disaster in a very realistic way, forcing you to feel immersed in his movies. I have always been inspired by the vastness of space and how little we know about it. I get inspired thinking about how different things could be in the future. Some of my favourite movies are War of The Worlds 2005, Empire of the Sun, The Joker, I, Robot, No Country for Old Men.

Lewis Andrews new signing NERD Productions

What excites you the most about joining the NERD talent roster?

I am excited to be amongst such a wide representation of diverse talent. I love the approach of the team; they have been so positive and detail-orientated when giving feedback about my work. Their staff have all been welcoming and they encourage creativity. I can tell that NERD’s founder Milana Karaica has a wealth of knowledge and I would learn more from her. I have joined the NERD talent roster at a rather strange time in history, during a global pandemic. When the world is a bit more normal, I would love to meet the NERD team in person.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I once worked in a Michelin star Chinese restaurant in St James, London called Imperial Treasure as a commis chef. I love to cook for my girlfriend in my spare time and one day I would like to launch my own brand of cupcakes.

See more of Lewis’s work here.

NEW SIGNING: NERD Presents Its First Ever Photographer – Gabby Secomb Flegg

MidSummer

We are excited to welcome Gabby to our roster of amazing talent and get creating and empowering from day ONE. We are convinced she will rock the commercial world with her powerful and refreshing visuals!

To properly start the season of new beginnings, we signed our first photographer – Gabby Secomb Flegg. Gabby is a queen of magic and a pro of telling people’s stories through her shots. She brings powerful female energy everywhere she goes and makes sure to capture authenticity and diversity of every person who happens to be in front of her camera.

A few words about this big step for NERD from our Founder & Executive Producer Milana Karaica:

As a production company that prides itself on being forward thinking, promoting collaboration and diversity, it was only a matter of time before we added talented and fresh photographers to our talent pool!  To make our NERDy mark on the industry and truly complete our creative offering to our agency and brand clients, alongside the live action directors, animation directors and illustrators we are proud to present the first female NERDy photographer! Gabby, who shares our ethos and mission is an incredible addition to the family. Her work is concentrated on diversity and female empowerment which is exactly what we practice at NERD.

To help you get to know Gabby a little more, we spoke to her about her story, inspiration and plans with NERD:

When did you decide to become a photographer?

I have been photographing since I was 19 years old (coming close to that 10-year mark now, yeesh!) but I only took it very seriously when I was around 25. I was working as an event manager full time for an insurance company and was shooting weddings, 21st, formals, christenings and everything in between on weekends. It got to a point where I was getting so busy and worn out that I couldn’t maintain the energy for both of those career paths, so I took the plunge into photography full time and have never looked back since! 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Take the plunge earlier! Not that I didn’t take it at a great time, but I could have saved myself a load of suffering by not working as a check out chick at a local supermarket. However, that being said, I believe everything we experience makes us who we are (even the hard stuff) so had I taken the plunge earlier and missed out on all those in between jobs, perhaps I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now! 

What played the key role in your positioning as a photographer?

Getting rejected from college. Yep. I took my then portfolio to apply for a full-time photography course but was advised I wasn’t ready to take it. This was such a critical part in my desire to prove people wrong and to thrive without any formal education. I took their 12-week weekender course for beginners to understand the basic functionality of my camera, but I went off to do my own thing after that! It was one of the best things that never happened to me.

What excites you the most about being the first photographer to join the NERD talent family?

Who doesn’t love being the first in something haha?! Really though, what I love about NERD is the diversity in their talent and their desire to represent women in this space. I’ve admired NERD from afar for about a year and decided to throw myself out there a few months ago to just see what would happen – and here we are! What I am super excited about is the opportunity to help build this sector of representation in the NERD family and to have the opportunity to work with so many incredible like-minded, talented artists. 

What inspires you on daily basis?

Inspiration is a funny one, I don’t think it’s a daily experience, it’s more of an anomaly. Seems to show up when it feels like it but when you chase after it you can never find it! For me I find myself most inspired when I am travelling or interacting with other talented people. Seeing others thrive in their creative field really sparks joy in me which can then lead to inspiration. But usually, inspiration hits me in the quiet pockets of space I try to carve out through the week. 

What shot are you most proud of?

I had a full afternoon shoot just for fun with my friend Renee and incredible makeup artist Anthea Billet. We took to the Newcastle beaches in Australia to get some moody fashion snaps and I convinced poor Renee to get into the freezing water and make floating look effortless and ethereal. Turns out floating in a sequin dress is actually really hard, so we tried some standing shots.
By a stroke of pure magic, the sun came out and beamed through the misty sky and lit both the sky and water up like liquid gold. It was the most perfectly timed shot I’ve taken to date and I’m so proud of it.

Tell us about your women empowerment strategy while shooting.

Before I started shooting more editorial and fashion-based work, I shot as a female empowerment boudoir photographer. I spent 8 years as a pole dancer so female empowerment was a huge message that threaded through this experience and kind of subconsciously made an impression on my work. I really thrive helping women see a side of themselves that they’ve never seen, it brings me so much joy for them to look back on their images and say “holy shit, is that me?!” 

I think there are so many photographers out there who give no direction or positive reinforcement (a lot of them definitely don’t shout ‘YASSSS QUEEENNNN’, mid-session) which can have a huge impact on the result of the shoot. 

I really enjoy making people feel comfortable and eliciting genuine reactions at a shoot, so I am lucky to say that empowering people comes very naturally to me. 

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I’m actually a massive introvert. I can come across as very extroverted to people but I recharge best being on my own! Give me cartoons in bed by myself any day over a social function! 

See more of Gabby’s work here.