From creative to director: Andy McLeod reflects on Rattling Stick's birthday
A view from Andy McLeod

From creative to director: Andy McLeod reflects on Rattling Stick's birthday

As the production company Rattling Stick turns ten, Andy McLeod examines the differences between being a creative and director.

Man I’m getting old.

I am due at a leaving drink this evening for an ex colleague. Except it isn’t a leaving drink, it’s a retirement party. What the hell? 

Yes, Tommy Omelette, aka Mike Hannett, is "hanging up his magic markers" as Flintham put it. How did that happen? Where did the years go? 

And as a no less poignant but certainly more sombre reminder of our mortality, as I look out of my window at Rattling Stick I am confronted, literally 10 yards away, by a shiny new blue plaque on the wall at Gorgeous – a constant, humbling paean to the talent of the late great Frank Budgen

The clock ticks. 

And I find myself still in the industry I’ve loved for over a quarter of a century, two thirds of it in front of a blank page on a desk, a third of it behind a camera (or more accurately, behind someone else who actually knows how to work it). 

So, what’s the difference? Not much.

Running a decent shoot is pretty much like running a decent creative department. You delegate the fuck out of everything.

Hire the right people, the best at what they do, then stay out of their way while they do it. 

That leaves you free to do what you have to do get the idea out in as good condition as possible. Put out fires here, put things back on track there – cajole, encourage, collaborate, debate. 

I try to fight the right battles as a director in the same way I did when I was a creative. They are different battles, as they should be. We need to divide and conquer if we’re going to get good work out.

My clients are the creatives, their clients are the marketing departments. The trick of course is to try and get to a place where all the clients (mine and theirs) want the same thing. 

So, what’s the difference between being a creative and being a director?

Different frustrations. We’re all looking at the same shiny, precious coin. We’re just looking at it from different sides.

For any creative the important thing is to work for and with people that allow you to grow and develop ideas to do it your own way. The same is true of directors. I’ve been lucky enough to work for and with brilliant people on both the agency side and on the production company side.

On the agency side it is genuinely too many to mention; in retrospect it starts to feel like I was playing in the England 1966 team for at least a decade or so. 

On the production company side I’ve fallen into a similarly strong squad – Johnnie Frankel, Ringan, Kleinman and the rest of the gang at Rattling Stick. 

And as the Stick approaches its tenth birthday, I find I’ve been there for nine of them. Blimey. How time flies when you’re having fun, working with great people.

The hours are different, the roles are different, but working with the best in the business – on either side of the agency/production company divide – is what makes the world go round. And jeez, doesn’t it go round fast. 

Andy McLeod is a director at Rattling Stick and former executive creative director and founding partner of Fallon. 

Campaign will publish ‘The story of Rattling Stick in ten films’ tomorrow (29 September).