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
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
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
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
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
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).