SHOTS.net published this feature with BRF’s founder/CEO Pelle Nilsson on re-branding, re-defining creativity & re-connecting on new platforms. SHOTS ‘How to…’ column has been a favourite for high profile figures in the ad industry. Nilsson takes the opportunity to write about how BRF has evolved and stayed relevant; always true to the storytelling foundations of the company.
How To… Create Longevity for a Production Company.
We launched B-Reel Films (now called BRF) 20 years ago, and in order to complete a full-on rebrand like we did at the beginning of the year, we had to take stock of our past to help define our future. We all know it’s a more competitive landscape than ever for a film production company (and directors). But in this constantly changing media landscape, I truly believe that there are more creative opportunities than ever. Along the way, we’ve learned that to create longevity, it’s important to embrace new ways of storytelling, attract filmmakers that are agile and curious and not to be afraid of constant evolution.
BRF began its journey in traditional film, making music videos, commercials and even some TV. But early on, we sought to combine the beauty of classic film storytelling with the new exciting interactive possibilities that the digital world allowed. At the end of the 2000’s, we set out on the frontier of interactive storytelling. It was an incredibly fresh era where clients, agencies and production companies were eager to experiment and collaborate to come up with new forms of engaging. It was a time when new technologies became part of the story and made the experience and interaction of the viewer as thrilling as the narrative itself.
These projects required a special type of director. Since most of these things had never been done before, we didn’t look for directors that had this experience, but that were curious and willing to be open minded about this new forum. But as important as that was, the most important thing was, of course, that they were talented storytellers.
During these exciting times we were equally focused on building out our Entertainment component. After we developed and produced our first (of 10) feature films in 2007, a new world of opportunities opened up for BRF and our directors.
To date, several of our commercial directors have also been involved in our entertainment projects, ranging from TV-series to documentaries to feature films. Several directors that started out doing interactive projects are now successful commercial directors and vice versa. We believe this diverse environment creates a special creative atmosphere where directors can thrive for a long period of time.
And for a modern production company to adapt in today’s film world, you not only need to have a diversity of directorial talent, but also be able to serve that talent in many different areas. Which means that it’s more important than ever to have highly creative Executive Producers who in turn hire creative producers on projects. A forward-thinking production company needs EPs that are as proactive as the sales people are in uncovering interesting opportunities for the directors and company.
There are very few production companies that have been around for longer than 20 years. Typically, it’s agencies that have a much longer life-span. Agencies focus on strategy, creative ideas and the enacting and distribution of those ideas across existing (and future!) platforms.
Production companies need to think the same way. It’s always about the story first and foremost, but whether it’s a commercial, VR piece or a branded content piece you have to be persistently on the lookout for the best way to serve your current and prospective clients’ needs. Film commercials will always be around, but the industry will have to adapt to new platforms and often new ways of storytelling. For a production company to survive and prosper they need to be constantly evolving both its roster of talent and its production approach on a project by project basis.
Today, we work off the assumption that formats, media and platforms will change faster and merge more in the coming years. There are new platforms that are as valuable as TV networks are and the border between advertising and entertainment is constantly blurring. We think this is fantastic and creates more creative opportunities for filmmaking than ever before.
Evolution can sometimes be uncomfortable, but we’ve never been afraid of being uncomfortable. It’s a very necessary pain and a crucial one to stay healthy as a production company.
So, stay curious, never settle and always stay true to the story.