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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out Hayley’s profile for more here.

The Work behind Rudy: a film by Shona Auerbach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Art of Animation | PALOMA

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



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

How did you fall in love with animation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring artists?

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

See more from Paloma here.

The Colourful Multi-faceted World of Mono Ghose

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.

New Signing at NERD: What Rachael Olga Lloyd Loves 24/7

Rachael Olga Lloyd at work - cover image

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!

NERD’s Airwick ‘Breath of Nature’ wins ‘Best Animation in a Commercial’ at BAA 2022

AirWick

Our photoreal film took the ‘Best Animation in a Commercial’ award at BAA2022 last Thursday. Crafted in collaboration with Havas London and directed by Peter S., this nature-inspired commercial made a lot of noise since it first aired last March. Its incredible high-end animation and whimsical sounds take the viewer through a sunny garden inspired by the director’s local flower market.


One of the most magical features of this spot was the focus on sound design to create a Zen zone that we are witnessing virtually. To accompany the mood of the commercial our team focused a lot on the pace of the animation to dissolve movement and create tranquility of the piece.

Our Executive Creative Producer, Milana Karaica (who is soon to have a lovely baby boy) and Director Peter S. accepted the award on the night:

The rest of the team joined to celebrate:


NERD’s team is incredibly grateful for the recognition of hard work and talent. We are proud to be a part of the community like BAAs as they are the only awards to recognise all forms of animation and reward the work of both new and established animators across all aspects of the UK Animation scene, from student work to commercials, children’s entertainment, short and experiential films, music videos and new technologies.

The Black Cop: a villain, a victim and a hero. 5 Questions we asked Director Cherish Oteka

Exploring the complexities of identity, authority and community with Cherish Oteka, director and producer of BAFTA-nominated “The Black Cop: a villain, a victim and a hero.

NERD: Gamal’s story is about the complex challenges that ethnic minorities sadly have to face to this day. How did you come to know Gamal’s story, and when did you realise that this was something that everybody needed to hear?

Cherish: I first heard about G when I attended a workshop for LGBTQ+ people of colour. During the workshop there was a breakout session to discuss role models within the community and G’s name came up. While I didn’t actually know the details of his story at the time, I reached out to him to generally make contact. G and I built a friendship from there and along the way he shared details of the challenging parts of his journey. He was keen on sharing his story in the hopes that it could help and inspire other people. I knew that this was an important story of overcoming self-hatred and that is a universal journey that could connect with audiences.

NERD: Gamal is proud of who he is and has taken ownership of himself, his past and his identity – all of which he now uses to help better the lives of others. How has his story impacted you personally, and what impact do you think it will have on others?

Cherish: I hope the impact of hearing G’s story will be the same for others as it was for me. While G’s story is shocking and triggering in parts, making the film and meditating on these themes have been healing for me. His story provided an opportunity for me to reflect on pivotal moments I’ve had with my identity and the impact they have had on me. I think everyone can relate to being told directly or indirectly that there are parts of who they are that aren’t good enough. The intention behind this film is to make conscious what is largely unconscious when it comes to self-hatred.

NERD: Race and gender identity are common themes in your work. How do you tell stories to people who have so few touchpoints with the issues facing minorities?

Cherish: Identity as a whole is an area that I am interested in and we all have a sense of self. My approach to storytelling is to tell specific stories in universal ways. In that way, whether someone can directly relate to the struggles of marginalised communities or not is less relevant. It’s ultimately about the emotions that drive our collective experience of humanity and those feelings transcend race, sexuality, class, gender etc.

NERD: There’s a clear exploration of identity, as well as a rallying cry for equality and inclusion. Why did you choose to centre the story of an individual rather than a group of people?

Cherish: G’s story alone touches so many important moments in recent British history. From the Black communities’ resistance of oppressive policing, to the push for LGBTQIA+ equality and the aftermath of the West African ‘farming’ phenomenon, where white families took care of Black children outside the remit of local authorities. There were so many important touchpoints in his story alone that allowed us to speak to several bigger societal issues. Because of this, I didn’t feel like we needed more voices to tell this story. Some of my favourite films are ones that tell big, complicated and nuanced stories through one persons’ perspective and that is what I sought to do with The Black Cop.

NERD: Gamal’s story is inspiring but heart-breaking. Do you have a message for all the young people of colour out there who are silently internalising many of the same conflicts that Gamal faced growing up?

When we think of racism or any other form of bigotry we think of the big events and give little attention to the daily subtle comments and actions that can negatively impact self-esteem. I want us to acknowledge those events, the impact they have and begin or continue a journey of healing.

Want to see more from Cherish? Tap here.

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.

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.