What I wish I’d known when I was 18: Nicholas Reynolds

We like a bit of Australian humour especially when it’s irreverent with great gags. Nicholas Reynolds is one of the best international directors around who specialises in perfect comic timing so we asked him for a few tips…

Which job changed your career?

Ikea Dog – an idea initially expressed as only a few simple lines on a piece of paper but when it came to life it had a heart bigger than Ben Hur.

I particularly remember when we first listened to the rough audio mix in the studio – I was with Jason Shragger who is now at BSUR Amsterdam at the time and we both leapt up and spontaneously applauded when it ended. Jason Murphy the sound mixer had taken what was once just a cute series of images strung together to form a story and made it explode with life. It was such a joy. That’s what I love about what we do. It always isn’t perfect but sometimes it IS and you get that feeling, did I do that?

What do you wish you’d known when you were 18?

I should have been an actor – I was really good at it but didn’t have the smarts to embrace it when I was young. It was especially stupid of me as it certainly would have helped me pull more girls. On the plus side though – I know that this said ability has helped make me the director I am today.

What piece of work are you proudest of and why?

I’m proud of a lot of my work as most of it has bought me joy but sometimes it’s the least obvious of the films I’ve done that I’m kinda proudest of. And it’s usually because of the small things – I once shot an Axe (Lynx) spot for BBH Asia Pacific and it was my suggestion to show the product before we revealed the classic effect ‘moment’. This meant that we’d shown that the product was a ‘problem’ – albeit a positive one. The campaign this film was based a core idea that BBH London had developed in previous executions but by following my suggestion, it changed the way the film read and made it that little bit different and thus extended the idea. The film then went on to win Bronze at Cannes.

You’re Australian yes?

Yes I’m Australian! But like many of my fellow countrymen – I’ve lived a large amount my life abroad and continually travel through my work. I’m really comfortable with other cultures. This probably comes from growing up in a pre-dominantly Italian community and a multi-cultural Australia.

Click on pic to see Virgin Mobile

How come you ended up in Brussels with a french producer shooting peacocks?

It’s not often that you meet people who become genuine friends and collaborators but Francois Chilot and Rikke Katborg at Les Producers are some of these. They’re the guys I was working with. The Peacock spot was part of a campaign for Virgin Mobile France through Hemisphere Droite and was our second project together this year, having shot an earlier series of films for TBWA Paris.

Peacocks – well all I can say is that they’re a bird and as the animal handler most acerbically remarked “…chickens are smarter…”. I kinda wish they were Pheasants because when we’d finished shooting we could have had our revenge by eating them after the shoot. Obviously no offence to any vegetarians meant.

What was the most challenging aspect of the shoot?

If I’m to be honest working with animals is laborious. It’s more tradesman like than creative. It requires a different kind of smart. You simply can’t whisper something in the animals ear that releases a magic moment like you can with an actor. You certainly also can’t have a glass of wine in a bar with them and share anecdotes.

Simply put you require the patience of a saint. The joy is once you and the people you’re working with accept this, then half the job is done.

On this project our collective patience was put to the test because on this project extremely bad weather was thrown into the equation. It was like the gods had placed us in some cheesy reality television show. Today Nicholas you’re working with animals. And… It’s going to rain on and off… constantly. And the light is going to be shocking for most of the shoot by being constantly different . It was insane. In the end we shot virtually nothing in sequence and in situations that one would normally avoid. Still we managed to pull it off and get the story told.

Are you thinking of coming to work in Europe more?

I’m moving to the UK early in 2012. I’ve joined LOVE in London. When I was in London a few weeks back the energy surrounding the guys there was so positive. Phil Dupee and Jane Lloyd are an absolute joy so the connection is strong. And knowing Luce Holmes is out there batting for you makes a director very happy.

Added to this is the bonus that I’ll be closer to Europe and obviously my friends at Les Producers. Couple this with the proximity to the North American market where I hope to do more work and it’s going to be great.

But what has really driven the move is that I really believe that I can make a real contribution to the UK market and offer a new fresh perspective as my sense of humour will be a good fit.

See more work of Nicholas Reynolds here


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