PRODUCTION COMPANY OF THE YEAR: GODMAN - From a hastily put-together start-up, Godman became a key player with established production houses suddenly facing fresh and fierce competition

Choosing Campaign’s Production Company of the Year for 1997 wasn’t an easy task. From a clear shortlist of Gorgeous Enterprises, Godman, Brave and Outsider, finding a company that fulfilled our criteria of creative excellence, profitability, a broad spectrum of directing talent - all gainfully employed - quality management and a sound reputation proved to be quite a challenge.

Choosing Campaign’s Production Company of the Year for 1997 wasn’t

an easy task. From a clear shortlist of Gorgeous Enterprises, Godman,

Brave and Outsider, finding a company that fulfilled our criteria of

creative excellence, profitability, a broad spectrum of directing

talent - all gainfully employed - quality management and a sound

reputation proved to be quite a challenge.



A substantial number of production companies appeared to channel their

resources into one particular director, with the work of other roster

directors on the reel barely registering in the average category.



We even discussed the possibility of dropping the category this year and

opting solely for a Director of the Year Award. This merit, Campaign

staff unanimously agreed, would have gone to Chris Palmer of

Gorgeous.



Finally, we decided to give the accolade to Godman, which we felt

fulfilled all our criteria. In its first year, Godman has spectacularly

carved out a strong position for itself among Soho’s production

companies.



Last year, Jo Godman, the former managing director of RSA, proved that

she hadn’t spent the past 13 years working in the shadows of the

Scotts.



The immediate success of her company has proved that Godman had the

experience, vision and industry clout, in her own right, to assemble an

impressive array of directing and production talent. Godman was able to

take on not only the small creative hot-shop production companies but

also the larger, elder statesmen operations. It was also the only

production company reel Campaign staff viewed which showed that all the

directors, from more established players to relative beginners, were

actively working on quality jobs.



On leaving RSA in December 1996, Godman took Vaughan Arnell and Jonathan

Greenhalgh, two of RSA’s directors, with her, and secured high-profile

jobs for them both. Greenhalgh directed the Sony ’weddings’ ad for BMP,

the charming Mecca ’posse’ and ’earrings’ commercials for WCRS and the

evocative ’fireman’ and ’vet’ ads for Ammirati Puris Lintas’s Action on

Addiction account.



While Arnell wasn’t overly productive in 1997, his reputation as one of

the UK’s most innovative directors was assured with two beautifully

crafted pieces of film - WCRS’s ’group talk plans’ for Orange and Bartle

Bogle Hegarty’s ’China’ for the Audi A6.



Godman recruited Mark Denton from Brian Byfield Films and the past year

has seen the director take on big-budget jobs and high-profile work such

as the effective and endearing Royal Mail ’I saw this and thought of

you’ campaign for Bates Dorland. Other additions to the Godman roster

include Rory Rooney and Ronnie West. West made the transition from

producer to director on his move to Godman from TTO, the production

company he co-founded in 1994. Since joining Godman in April, West has

made an impressive directorial debut with a campaign for Yorkshire

Electricity through Poulters. Rooney, a former runner for Tony Kaye

Films and a director with the Directory, joined Godman in July. Until

then, he was best known for his Irn-Bru work through the Leith Agency.

His debut work at Godman was the Co-op ’athletes’ spot for Duckworth

Finn Grubb Waters.



As a hastily put-together start-up - formed within weeks of Godman’s

abrupt departure from RSA - Godman, as a company, has had a truly

exceptional first year. And, if industry comment is anything to go by,

it has an even brighter future.



Gorgeous lost out on the Production Company of the Year title because

1997, like 1996, was mainly spent supporting Chris Palmer. However,

Palmer’s own reel stood head and shoulders above many other companies’

compilation showreels of all their directors’ work. Some of Campaign’s

editorial staff were hard-pushed to accept that one director could have

completed so many high-profile jobs with such a diversity of directing

styles.



Now that Palmer has lured Frank Budgen away from the Paul Weiland Film

Company and the respected producer, Paul Rothwell, from RSA, Gorgeous,

unless something goes horribly wrong, will undoubtedly become the star

production company of 1998. It will also be interesting to see if

Gorgeous’s other directors - Chris Stevenson, Murray Partridge and Enda

McCallion - will move on from the innovative, but small-scale, work they

have been involved in and, instead, get the chance to tackle projects

with more money behind them.



Outsider, which opened its doors only in February, has performed well

beyond expectations - although we felt that the company hasn’t had the

impact of Godman. Managed by Robert Campbell, ex-Tony Kaye Films and

Spots, and Toby Courlander, ex-Partizan, the duo have created a small

and efficient company that has produced an impressive array of work.



Paul Gay directed Campaign’s chosen Campaign of the Year - Volkswagen’s

affordability work - and has just shot the latest One-2-One commercial,

’mum’, for Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Stein Leikanger, in his first venture

through Outsider, directed a Ford Fiesta spot for Ogilvy & Mather, while

Christian Lyngbye’s first job was a Murphy’s ad for BBH. Still, we felt

that Outsider’s reel was dominated by Gay’s work.



Brave was also a contender. Managed and founded by the dynamic duo,

Emily Bliss and Michelle Stapleton, it has an excellent record for

managing directors’ careers and breaking unknowns. However, we felt

that, creatively, 1997 had not been its best year and that Godman’s

offering was stronger.



Recent winners: Blink (1996); the Paul Weiland Film Company (1995);

Arden Sutherland-Dodd (1994).



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