Daniel HealyIt’s the warmest day of the year as The Drum arrives at the new STV studio at Pacific Quay, ready to interview Daniel Healy, the newly appointed head of production at Lucid.
Entering the new building, although it’s not as large as the former Renfield St HQ, everything still has sheen to it. While waiting for Healy, Scotland Today presenter John Mackay is showing news reporter Heather Simpson around the new studio as most of the workforce has not yet moved in.
Healy arrives looking the archetypal producer; his long, shoulder-length, curly hair and laid-back attitude complimenting the fresh looking surroundings.
During his 17-year involvement in TV ad production, Healy has worked as a producer with some of the biggest UK names including Katie Bell, Graham Rose, Jo Godman and Ridley Scott, during his time at Rose Hackney, RSA Films and Knucklehead. His career has taken him from London to Prague and back again, with Healy making the recent decision to ‘up sticks’ and come to Glasgow.
The move came from the most unlikeliest of sources. Following the unexpected demise of Rose Hackney Barber, where he worked as a producer, Healy spent a year working freelance, something he didn’t like.
“I am now married with two children, so freelancing wasn’t doing it for me,” he says. “Matt Carter, who I produced for at the beginning of Rose Hackney, rang me up and told me that there was a job going in Scotland. I sent my CV and, literally the next day, Sean (Sean Duffy, business development manager of SMG’s broadcast events and solutions division) rang me and said he was going to be down in London for a couple of days, and asked if we could meet.”
Healy knew nothing about Scotland, other than his experience of working on the HEBs ‘Stinx’ commercial with The Bridge.
“I met Sean and he explained what he had planned and explained that they had set up Lucid and that they wanted it to stand alone and be a separate business (to SMG.)
“Sean explained that the company had no directors and that they were looking for someone to come in and run it. I was amazed, because four or five months before I had been at a company that wasn’t getting backing from anyone, and I knew that I was flogging a dead horse trying to keep it going. I couldn’t have written the scenario any better. Jokingly, I suggested that it could be based in London, and he replied that it was a Scottish company, that they are staring up there, but it doesn’t have to stay up there, which surprised me.”
Not that that means Healy is doing the job commuting from London. His wife and two children have just moved up from London, and the family are now getting settled in Glasgow’s West End.
Despite only just moving in to Pacific Quay, Healy wants to move out. “We’ve been here officially a month and a half, so it’s great to be here at the moment as it’s all just settling down, but at some point I see us getting out of here, because we are separate. We have the backing of SMG but it’s a stand alone arm.”
Lucid has ambitious plans to lure top directing talent to Scotland, something Healy’s recently done with Carl Prechezer, who directed the current campaign for STV’s relaunch of its website.
“From what I’ve seen, there is a large volume of work up here and it just seems silly that there are directors outside Scotland who are hungry to work and unable to find any.
“It seems that there is a huge opportunity to open up the production industry in Scotland. It’s not such a small country, so let’s open it all up, bring them all in and get everybody fighting over the scripts – why not?”
“It depends on the size of the budget at the beginning and I would never pitch a Graham Rose to a smaller budget brand because that would just be a waste of everyone’s time. Carl is fairly top and the budget on his CV wasn’t phenomenal, but it wasn’t bad. As I say, people want to do the work and we’ll talk money. If the work is right then they want to do it.”
Healy said that he felt one of the reasons that he could see Lucid becoming a success story was due to the current low number of staff, four in total, including himself, producer Gill Hanlon, production manager Lorna Menzies and producer Lesley Weir. The company doesn’t currently have a roster of directors, something Healy’s relieved about.
“The overheads, at present, are zero because we’re based in the STV offices,” he says. ”I hope this will grow to a roster but, at the moment, because Lucid is a new name it’s good that we don’t have a roster that we have to support. As things settle down and become more established then I’d like to start looking at directors.”
Healy’s diplomatic when asked if the Scottish advertising industry has any unique problems. “It’s pretty much the same, he says. “Everybody has the same issues, the same problems. Clients have the same issues and the same problems. There is no real divide at the moment. I haven’t seen the great England, Scotland divide yet. Clients don’t have enough money. Agencies always have great ideas that they have to taper back because everything is budget driven. Fortunately I haven’t come across a cost controller up here yet which I guess is just luck. Before I officially started there were some scripts bouncing around which were so well written. The quality is comparable and the difficulties that everybody faces are equally comparable, money being a major one for everybody. But you can’t sit around and mope that there isn’t enough money on the table and that’s not what we do. We ask ‘who do you want?’ and don’t say Danny Kleinman to me, because if you want him you should go and talk to him yourself, because he would never work with another production company. As long as everybody is reasonable about what they are trying to achieve and we’re talking realistically about the talent on the table - be it Graham Rose, be it Carl Prechezer, be it Katy Bell, or whoever - if that person is right for the job, most of the time, they want to do the job and there will be a way to make it work.”
“I totally believe that you are only as good as the quality of the work that you deliver, so, me being up here with all of my lahdeedah, counts as diddily squat if we’re not coming up with the right directors for the right jobs, and once we get the job, we must follow every single thing through. Deliver what you said you were going deliver.”
As to where the future lies and how Lucid will be seen as an independent company, rather than an SMG offshoot, Daniel has a clear idea:
“We need to physically get ourselves out of these offices, but I think perception is what you actually do,” states Healy. “I’m not at all dissing the work that was done before Lucid was set up, that was a different approach and a different market. My work comes from agencies, SMG comes direct from clients. That is the clear divide and that is how, when you’re looking at it on the telly at home, you can tell a direct ad when you see one and you know an agency ad when you see one. We deal with agencies who have their clients and we work with the agency, we don’t do direct work. Ours is of a different calibre. We are Lucid. There’s no mention of SMG or STV. When we move, we only need a small office. Lucid is going to be a neater, smaller set-up.”