PRODUCTION COMPANY OF THE YEAR: GORGEOUS - Through its commitment to quality, the company has produced not only a consistent body of work but also some of the best individual ads of last year

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 consistency.

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

’Emma’ idents.

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, 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

existing talent.

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).

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