’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
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.