CRAFT: PROFILE - Upbeat female duo behind the Brave breakaway/Emma Hall on whether the gamble by Emily Bliss and Michele Stapleton paid off

’Oh no - we’ll get found out!’ Emily Bliss’s overwrought reaction to the prospect of a Campaign profile couldn’t be further removed from the calm, focused face of the production company, Brave Films that greets me at the interview.

’Oh no - we’ll get found out!’ Emily Bliss’s overwrought reaction

to the prospect of a Campaign profile couldn’t be further removed from

the calm, focused face of the production company, Brave Films that

greets me at the interview.

Emily Bliss and her business partner, Michele Stapleton, founded Brave

three years ago. Two 27-year-olds with a couple of directors and a ton

of energy - it could have gone either way. But fortune favoured the

women and the company has gone from strength to strength.

Brave’s original directors, Alex Winter and Howard Greenhalgh, won

scripts for the National Lottery and P&O Ferries at the outset. This

gave Stapleton and Bliss something to show creative directors as they

sought to establish the business.

Financial backing from Rose Hackney Barber gave them a certain

credibility, but they were just two young producers who had defected

from Propaganda, taking with them two relatively unknown directors.

Stapleton says: ’At Propaganda we were doing a lot of hard work for

someone else. We knew we had the energy and the directing talent to make

it on our own - we believed in ourselves and knew we could make other

people believe in us too. There is great strength in thinking you can do


Like all successful teams, Bliss and Stapleton complement each


Both women are outgoing, but their backgrounds give them different


Bliss started out as a graduate trainee at CDP and moved to be an

account supervisor at Lowe Howard-Spink. The job she subsequently took

as a rep at Propaganda may have been a step backwards in career terms,

but it is indicative of her determination to move into production.

Bliss’s agency background gives her an account director’s gloss and a

capacity for dealing with people in any circumstances. As Stapleton

says: ’When Emily goes into a room, she lights it up.’

Stapleton’s solid production background and means she enjoys the

day-to-day tasks of budgeting and setting up shoots. She started as a PA

at Mavity Gilmore Jaume but, having studied stage management at college,

knew she wanted to work in a production company.

After jobs at Harkness Sayers and Tony Kaye Films, Stapleton moved to

Propaganda where she met Bliss. They got on immediately and, after three

years in partnership, their friendship has turned into a sisterly

closeness - one that can withstand the inevitable disagreements and

’off’ days.

They provide support for one another through the stress and long hours

involved in running a company.

Stapleton’s means of escape is her motorbike; in fact three women from

Brave feature in an article about ’the gutsy new breed of women

riders’in the December issue of Harper’s & Queen. Pictured at Goodwood

in her leathers and shades, Stapleton is described as ’a tiny

seven-stone, hard-smoking biker’. The equivalent description of Bliss

might read ’friendly, golden-haired party-goer’.

Young, attractive and female, Stapleton and Bliss have endured some

cynicism about their success. ’If people want to think we are bonking

for business, then let them. It upset us at the beginning, but being

female isn’t such a novelty and we haven’t got time to worry about it.

We have got a responsibility to our directors and employees,’ Stapleton


Brave has added five directors to its portfolio - as well as Winter and

Greenhalgh, the company represents Lucy Blakstad, David Hartley, Steve

Reeves, Edmundo, and Alex Proyas. Recent work includes ads for Peugeot,

Sanyo and Ford Probe. Stapleton and Bliss have hired a rep, but they

still visit agencies with the reels. The reception area of Brave is

decorated with photos of Stapleton and Bliss networking at industry


While this energy lasts, Brave is certain to succeed. Mark Wnek, the

executive creative director of Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, who features in

the photographs, sums up the allure of Brave. ’You want to have Emily

and Michele around. They are smart, bright, trustworthy and fun.’

, keeping up their contacts and making sure that the important people

are up to date with all their directors’ work seven talented directors

and our fantastic.

To keep overheads low, production staff have been hired equally

sparingly and carefully. ’When we find someone we trust they become an

element of the two of us,’ says Bliss, forgetting about work as she

concentrates on the moment and the road ahead while allowing them to be

perfectly happy to spend an awful lot of time together.

So the production company’s launch impact was immediately supported by

hard evidence, where she was progressing steadily along the career path

until she changed directions.


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