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Opinion and Insight

When it Comes to Craft, Collaboration is Key

LBB Editorial , 2 years ago

Laura Swinton on interesting changes to the British Arrows Craft Awards and why craftspeople are more than just 'suppliers'

When it Comes to Craft, Collaboration is Key

We talk a lot, in advertising, about collaboration, about breaking down walls, boundaries and silos. About human connection, about relationships and engagement. It sounds kind of nice and warm and friendly. But saying and doing are wildly different beasts, and it seems that we don’t ‘do’ it nearly enough, particularly when it comes to the people who contribute all of those amazing touches that turn an alright idea into a beautiful finished piece of work. 

That’s why I was really quite intrigued when I heard about what the British Arrows are up to with this year’s Craft Awards. It’s always been a fairly unique set up, standing out in the award show calendar. For one thing they’re devoted to ‘craft’ – recognising not just the obvious directors and production companies and post houses and sound houses, but the stylists, designers, DOPs, hair and make-up teams who lend their own skills and creative eyes to projects but are often overlooked when it comes to credits and plaudits. For another, during judging they insist that work is shown in a cinema so that the jury truly experiences the work and soaks in the details – rather than pootling about on an iPad.

This year they’ve upped the ante in a move that will allow the post production community to really show the jury what they do. For Best CGI, VFX and Colourist categories, entrants are invited to submit ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions of the spots, to show just what level of work and skill has gone into a project. As I’ve written before, sometimes the ‘invisible post’ that you don’t even notice is the trickiest stuff to do – but it so rarely gets any recognition as it’s supposed to go unseen.

It’s an experiment and the team will be closely watching what effect it has on judging discussions, but whatever happens it’s commendable that the team are trying to do what they can to support and champion the production community, and to reaffirm the importance of quality.

As Awards Director Janey de Nordwall told me, “As an awards body we love the industry and what we do.” I think it’s showing by their actions as much as their words.

Another recent conversation has also got me thinking about how different craftspeople are treated within the industry. As the cost-controlling, penny-pinching mentality grows the tendency has been to think of these people as suppliers and not collaborators, focusing purely on the transaction and not on the creative flair and experience they can bring. It’s particularly hard on the freelancers who don’t have the collective clout or means to raise their personal profile or even make sure they’re listed on credits.

There’s a reason people go into model making or costume design and not, say, hedge funds – it’s because they care about creativity and making something look, sound or feel as amazing as it possibly can. And isn’t that the kind of person you’d want to collaborate with?


Entries to the British Arrows Craft Award close on Friday 25th. For more info, click here.