We catch up with Alex Black, our Head of Creative Content Solutions EMEA, on kick-ass creativity, the insatiable demand for content and the mystery of the UK’s two-tap system…
Firstly talk us through your role and what a typical day looks like…
I’ve recently been promoted to Head of Creative Content Solutions EMEA which means I’m working across international projects for TVC and The Economist Group.
I usually start my day by discussing any new briefs that have come into the business with relevant stakeholders at The Economist. We then decide what’s needed for each response and who’s doing what.
The rest of my day is a mix of coming up with creative solutions, writing proposals and overseeing projects that are currently in production. As and when needed, I’m also supporting on client pitches or shoots. There is also a ton of paperwork such as budgets, schedules, contracts etc, that I won’t bore you with!
What’s the best part of your job?
The most exciting part is coming up with a creative idea/treatment and seeing it come to life. This is particularly exhilarating when the client has bought into an exciting creative idea that has paid off.
We have the power to surpass people’s expectations and create tangible business results. That’s the holy grail of this gig.
What made you decide to take a content route?
I started my career in digital strategy at Google, where I was working with some of its biggest clients. However, after a crazy learning curve across search, display, mobile, analytics, programmatic and video in the first two years, I fell out of love with the media side of the business. I was eager to get more involved in the creative side of things. I’ve also always loved a good story. I’m very much into film and narrative-led games, so I took the leap and decided to focus more on film and content production. I worked for several production companies, including VICE Media. I then joined TVC and The Economist Group because I saw the opportunity to grow creatively.
I can now confidently say that I know what my passion is. I’m here to stay when it comes to the film/content industry and I’m looking forward to creating some kick-ass work.
What are the biggest trends in content you’re seeing right now?
There is more of it. Lots more! Every brand is pushing out content in all shapes and sizes. Alongside Netflix and Amazon Prime, we will soon have more streaming services from the likes of Disney, the BBC and ITV. All these platforms and players have a constant need for new, fresh, exciting content that feeds our insatiable demand for storytelling. It’s a constant battle for attention.
What that means for people who produce content is we’re under pressure to become better, to reinvent ourselves. It’s not good enough any more to just point a camera and film something. It’s not good enough to just whack some fancy kit or a drone on a project and call it a day. More than ever, we need to tell good, relevant stories and we need to put the effort and graft in to elevate them above all the other ‘noise’.
What’s your favourite recent campaign?
Uff, is it weird that I have to think about this? The Three campaign around the history of phones was certainly spectacular. I also love this cool Honda animation. However, I can’t think of anything that’s knocked me off my feet so far this year. The best thing I’ve seen recently was this little animation called Lost & Found.
You’re German but you’ve been in the UK for pretty much a decade – are there any Britishisms you still can’t get your head around?
Whist I have, after a long time of wondering, found out why the UK has separate taps for hot and cold water (to prevent contamination), I still think it’s stupid. Sorry!
And finally, in your spare time you’re a budding film maker – tell us about your latest creation…
I’m just about to finish post-production on my first short film “Lycanthropy” which I’ve written and directed. It’s a thriller film about two detectives looking for a missing child, about 15 mins long.
The narrative was challenging for a short film format and my goal was to produce something of a very high production standard. We’ve experimented with colour and music, so I’m keen to see if it worked.
I’ve crowdfunded and self-funded the project and it has taken years, so I’m now really looking forward to submitting it to some festivals and to finally getting some people to see it! I’ve also started working on a feature film script and hope to have a first good draft by the end of 2019.
You can keep up to date on the latest here: www.alexblackfilm.com.