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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : May June 2008
Robertson: “I had gotten to the point where I felt very confident with my craft and was ready to focus on attracting better scripts... I saw Plaza as an opportunity to really focus on that shift” ROBERTSON’SREINVENTION Director Nick Robertson has quietly reinvented himself over the past 12 months to become one of region’s most sophisticated story- tellers. He speaks with Campaign Brief about his directional shift. AROUND 12 MONTHS AGO, Nick Robertson rece ived a phone call from Sydney based Plaza F ilms inviting him to come on board as their newest director. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. With a reputation as one of the region’s most technically accomplished directors and a reel full of polished work, Robertson knew he was ready for the next stage in his career. And what better place to do it than Plaza. “My move to Plaza was designed to help me focu s on a trans ition MAY/JUN E 2008 that began a couple of years ago,” says Robertson, who is surprisingly laid-back and ego-deficient for a commerci al direct or, wi th a dry sense of humour and a no-bullshit approach to life. “I had gotten to the point where I felt very confident with my craft and was rea dy to focus on attracting better scripts and reposi tioning myself in the market. I sa w Plaza as an opportu- nity to really focus on that shift.” Tog ether wi th pr oducer Ki m Kirby, he is now broadening his skills by taking on more narrative- driven scripts that combine story- telling with visual craftsmanship. It’s a shift that did not go unno- ticed by White Label Product in Los Angeles – the same production company t hat rep resents fellow Plaza directors Paul Middleditch and Nick Reynolds – which signed Robertson six months ago. For the past year, Robertson has been busy shooting spots for the likes of Leo B urnet t Chi cag o (Kel log gs Nutrigrain), DDB Sydney (Wrigle ys and MailPlus), Leo Burnett Sydney (Subaru) and Cl emen ger BBDO Syd ney (for Mitsubishi). Campaign Brief caught up with him to find out how he pulled off his own reinvention. CAMPAIGN BRIEF: Why did you move to Plaza 12 months ago? NICK ROBERTSON: I saw it as an opportun ity to re- energize m y work. I ’m quite a visu al d irector, whereas most Plaza directors spe- cialise in comedy and performance, so there’s a nice mix here. When I arrived I knew exactly what I want - ed to do– it was all about changing the dir ection in wh ich I wa s head- ing and t aking t hings to t he n ext level creatively, and I’ve been given a lot of freedom to achieve this. CB: You’ve b een d irecting f or c lose to ten y ears - hav e yo u e ver been pigeonholed f or sh ooting a p articular style? NR: I’m often seen as a technical director, w hich I ’ve be en a l ittle combativ e a gainst. Yo u ca n g et pigeonholed v ery q uickly in t his business – I s tarted my ca reer on car c ommercials a nd f ive y ears later, a fter do ing s ome r eal ly big jobs, I realised I’d been tagged as a ‘car and VFX guy’. I s till e njoy t hose j obs b ut the trouble as a technical director is you get lumped with the attitude: “Here’s our id ea, make i t l ook good’. Kim and I ha ve been real ly conscious of this. We’ve made an ef for t to b e r eally h onest ab out where we sit in the pecking order so we can establish where we want to be. I t’s a s low and s teady course, but we’re on track. CB: If y ou h ad to descr ibe y our approach to fi lmmaking, what wo uld you say? NR: I see myself as a visual story- teller – someone who’s g ot a ve ry good handle on t echnical a spects, who a lso understands s trong c re- ative concepts. So I can recognise a great script, but I can also put a lit- tle craft into it to enhance it. That’s the b enefit of h aving a f ew y ears experience. Unfor tunately a lot of visual scripts are not that strong – it’s style ove r c ontent, wh ich i s ju st l azy. They’re fun to shoot, but develop- ing char acters a nd ide as is a l ot more stimulating. I enjoy work that has a thread, a spine, a s tory wi th characters that is visually-oriented. CB: You recently s igned up wi th White Lab el Pro duct in Los An geles. Have you worked with any US agen- cies yet? NR: Within six months of signing I l anded a j ob f or Nutrigrain f or Leo Burne tt C hicago. It w as CAM PA IGN B R I E F ? 23
July August 2008
March April 2008