World: My Portfolio - Thornton-Allan

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 25 June 2004 12:00AM

Pigeonholing the editor Tim Thornton-Allan based on his reel is not easy, but there is a certain consistency to be found in the pace of his work; a calmness, like taking a pause for a breath. He often holds a shot a fraction longer than you'd expect, and keeps you there. Thornton-Allan cut his editor's teeth with the directors the Douglas Brothers, and his work bears the legacy of their roots as photographers.

A series of black-and-white spots for Adidas focused on sporting faces as iconography, rather than action, and featured stars from the French World Cup-winning team to Prince Naseem.

The British boxer's attempt to conquer the US featured in an ad in which an ominous prophecy of "he is coming" was proclaimed from the top of New York's downtown skyline. "In the script, Naseem was to jump between the Twin Towers, but that was ditched," Thornton-Allan, who works at Marshall Street Editors in London, says. Aside from the fact that it looked "corny", his concern was that the BACC wouldn't like the shot. "Sometimes you think it's going to get banned and it sails through while, with other things, you just can't see it coming."

His work with the director Happy on "dog breath" for Wrigley's Xcite is a case in point. The ad was the most complained- about in UK history. "We didn't do it to deliberately to wind people up, it was just a good script," he says. He and the director even tried to up the eurgh-factor. "We tried to make the dog even more disgusting and wet, but it didn't look right," he says.

Thornton-Allan is not precious as to how he gets it right, and likes to collaborate, "bouncing ideas" off director Fredrik Bond for the Super Noodles "face off" spot and adding a comedy element to his reel in the process. The ad pitched a West Side Story-styled battle of limp "salad" boys against tasty "fast food" lads. The pace is fast, tightly cut and in-your-face but the overall impression is graceful. "It was the perfect combination of everything that needs to happen," he recalls, "and in exactly the time it was supposed to."

His recent collaboration with the director Joe Roman for Samsung's new flatscreen TV is reminiscent of his earlier work with the Douglas Brothers.

"The opening shots are paced like breathing: inhale with a vertical move over a woman's face; exhale with a horizontal move over a figure's back." The product is only revealed in the third shot and, as Thornton-Allan puts it: "If the first two shots can hold your attention, you're going to watch it until the end."

- Tim Thornton-Allan was talking to Suzel Pitty.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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