The decision to award production company of the year to Gorgeous
will surprise few. The sheer quality of the commercials produced by its
directors, Frank Budgen (opposite, top left) and Chris Palmer (top
right), is almost unparalleled, at least in terms of its
Work such as 1998’s Sony ’the unexpected’, PlayStation’s ’double life’
and the BBC’s ’future generations’ could have been hard acts to
But 1999’s body of work has proved beyond doubt that Gorgeous is more
than capable of maintaining its high standards.
Budgen continues to appear at the top of most directors’ wish lists.
This year he was one of the most awarded directors on the worldwide
advertising scene, scooping the ITV award for best TV ad of the year for
’double life’, along with seven other BTAA awards, two D&AD silvers,
three Cannes lions and eight US Clios.
Palmer has also won a plethora of awards, including BTAA and D&AD
silvers, making Gorgeous the most awarded production company
But the awards of 1999 are only part of the story. In the same year, the
company has produced gems such as the hilarious Magic FM spots, the
British Airways commercial featuring PJ O’Rourke and the Heineken
’rubbish’ ad with its priceless bird end-frame. The Fiat Punto work and
the Pretty Polly ’ooh’ campaigns are cleverly executed and popular.
Other highlights include the BBC comedy promo ’shaggy dog’, which
maintains pace and intrigue despite its length, the new Halifax ’cinema
halifaxo’ spot, another epic with an explosive ending, the VW ’labels’
ad, which reflects the remarkable quality set by BMP DDB and the
Guinness ’snails’ spot.
Naming Gorgeous as production company of the year is not without
Established by Palmer, the company is four years old. Budgen joined as a
partner just two years ago, but they have failed to break other talent
of note. The lighting cameraman, Peter Thwaites, joined as a director
this year, but has yet to prove himself, having only directed the Army’s
But with some justification, Gorgeous doesn’t want, or need, to be a big
company just for the sake of it. In an industry drowning in new
directors, it could sign up a ten-strong roster overnight. It simply
chooses not to.
Last year proved to be a storming one for our runner-up, Partizan Midi
Minuit. Traktor continued to entertain with work as varied as its ’Jukka
Brothers’ campaign for MTV, the new Malibu ads through Lowe
Howard-Spink, Nike’s ’asteroid’ and Diesel’s ’school’s out’. Michel
Gondry, although in pre-production on his feature, directed much of the
lauded and now ubiquitous Gap campaign. Rocky Morton scored an awards
triumph with his US campaign for Fox Sports, the directing duo, Joe
Public, have gone down well in the US with their spots for Snapple,
Amazon.com and Honda, and Quentin Dupieux’s first UK commercial for
Levi’s Sta-Prest introduced Flat Eric to the viewing public.
The founder of Partizan, Georges Bermann, and Madeleine Sanderson, the
managing director of Partizan’s London office, deserve recognition for
their skill in choosing new directors and managing the careers of
Further, at a time when London is swamped with directors and bountiful
scripts are becoming a fond memory, Partizan’s management has been wise
to establish the company in other major markets.
Godman, despite only being in its third year of operation, continues to
be one of the strong players with a good spread of directors. Vaughan
Arnell, in particular, has directed some of the highlights of 1999,
including the ’Dury on life’ commercial for The Sunday Times. His other
high points include ’chase the rainbow’ for Virgin Atlantic, the
atmospheric ’natural instincts’ ad for Orange and the Sega Dreamcast
spots, the latter of which may not have the strongest scripts but do
reveal a master craftsman at work. Other strong directors on the roster
include Jon Greenhalgh, who produced the hilarious Lynx commercials.
Kevin Thomas is another of Godman’s talented directors, having produced
the Thorntons’ ’what’s heaven?’ ad, the Sainsbury’s ’cats’ ad for Abbott
Mead Vickers BBDO and the One2One ’Santa’ spot.
Jo Godman also has to be credited for her ability to recruit talented
directors. Kevin Thomas joined the company from Blink in June and Steve
Green joined from Rogue Films in October.
With many creative directors complaining about the lack of comedy
directors, Godman had considerable foresight in signing one of the top
young TV comedy directors, Edgar Wright.
Wright, the director of the cult Channel 4 comedy, Spaced, Alexei
Sayle’s Merry Go Round and the French & Saunders Christmas Special, is
currently working on a number of commercials.
Helen Langridge Associates deserves a mention for Langridge’s continued
skill in spotting new talent. The director, Rob Sanders, has certainly
proved himself with The Independent ’litany’ ad. Tom Vaughan is also
another signing of note, particularly for his One2One ads and his Yellow
Pages ’cleaners’ spot.
But there are few production companies that can be proud of every piece
of work, which is why 1999 belongs to Gorgeous. By putting quality over
quantity, Gorgeous produces work that gives the British ad industry the
creative reputation it deserves.
Recent winners: Academy (1998); Godman (1997); Blink (1996); The Paul
Weiland Film Company (1995); Arden Sutherland-Dodd (1994).