Cannes: Film craft in the spotlight

Cannes has a new award to honour film-making craft - such as directing, copywriting, editing or sound design. Rattling Stick's Ringan Ledwidge prepares for his role as a juror.

So, Cannes now has a Film Craft category and I'm one of the lucky buggers that gets to spend six days in a darkened room watching more than 1,000 ads of which - and I'm being kind - at least 60 per cent will be the kind of stuff that, while competent, rarely gets the creative juices going. All of this while, outside, my mates are enjoying the sun and undoubtedly getting pissed on rose. Fun, right?

Well, maybe it's not fun, but it is necessary and I do think it's about time Cannes had this category. Whether it's driven by a desire to make more money or to actually reward people, I'll let you be the judge. But, hey, we work in a kind of vain industry, and I include myself in that, and we're not going to turn down the chance of more trophies, are we?

More importantly, there are a hell of a lot of talented people who never get rewarded for their contributions to a piece of work, whether it's the sound, the editing, the production design, the cinematography or whatever. When done well, these elements can help turn a good idea into a great idea and often in the face of adversity from one source or another. And Cannes is an excuse to buy a decent bit of clobber, which, in my book, is no bad thing.

What's the standard of work going to be like when it gets to the business end of the judging? To be honest, I really don't know. I've seen a few good things out there but, to be honest, I'm not an advertising pervert. I love what I do and respect good work when I see it, but I don't spend time seeking it out. Normally, the good stuff has already risen to the top and you're aware of it, but I'm hoping there'll be some pleasant surprises that have somehow slipped through the net.

In general, my feeling is that it is getting harder to produce really great TV work. Clients are more afraid, budgets are being cut and, as a result, production's being squeezed. Therefore, creativity suffers. Wanna pay peanuts? Get a monkey. It's great that people behind the scenes will now get recognised but my feeling is there should be some kind of reward for those doing great producing, those people who somehow get ever-decreasing budgets to deliver something way beyond the money and expectations of the idea.

For me, these guys are often the stars of the show.

What would have won in the Film Craft category if it had existed previously? I have a hard enough time deciding this when I'm in a judging environment, let alone sat at my desk with plenty of other distractions. So I'll dodge it a bit and say probably a lot of the stuff that scooped the awards anyway. It's rare that you see a great award-winning piece of TV that doesn't have at least one aspect of its craft, if not all, executed brilliantly.

This year, there are a few things that stand out to me. Dougal Wilson's got a couple of things that are, as usual, beautifully crafted: Coca-Cola's "organ player" for fantastic production design and the COI "breathe" spots for cinematography.

From a New Zealand agency (but a London animator), there's a wonderfully executed bit of animation for the NZ Book Council that's quite stunning. Even though he's my editor, I think Rich Orrick's work on Honda "everything" is pretty good. Makes my brain ache looking at it! Only a true professional could carry that off.

Meanwhile, for effects, although it's not that obvious (which is why it's good), Tom Kuntz's Old Spice "the man your man could smell like" is seamless, even though I know it would have been anything but on the shoot. I know there's so much more that I've missed out, so if I've not mentioned you, sorry!

There you go. I'm off to do my packing: matchsticks to keep these weary eyes open and a suitcase full of coffee.

- Ringan Ledwidge is a director at Rattling Stick.


PRODUCTION DESIGN: Coca-Cola 'organ player'

Introducing the "open happiness" strapline, this spot features a magical organ filled with strange furry creatures that burst into song after being fed the soft drink.

Director: Dougal Wilson Production company: Blink Agency: Mother

CINEMATOGRAPHY - COI Fire Safety 'breathe'

A couple are asleep in their bed - but as the woman's hair sways gently and a child's toy floats by, it's suddenly obvious that all is not normal. They are underwater. The message: "Don't drown in toxic smoke. Test your fire alarm weekly."

Director: Dougal Wilson Production company: Blink Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

EDITING - Honda 'everything'

A staggering 972 edits were used to layer fractured video and create a cascading montage of images that evoke Honda's product heritage.

Editor: Richard Orrick Edit house: Work Post Agency: Wieden & Kennedy London

ANIMATION - New Zealand Book Council 'Going West'

In this two-minute film, Maurice Gee's classic New Zealand novel Going West comes to life as hand-cut "pop-up" scenery springs up from the pages of the book.

Design and animation: Line Andersen

Production: Andersen M Studio, London Agency: Colenso BBDO, Auckland

EFFECTS - Old Spice 'the man your man could smell like'

The ad sees the actor and former NFL star Isaiah Mustafa move seamlessly from shower to boat deck and then puts him astride a horse. It took three days' shooting to capture perfection: on take 57.

Director: Tom Kuntz Production company: MJZ Los Angeles

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Portland.