In the director’s chair: Ben Scott on being open-minded, client involvement & almost stealing art

In the director’s chair: Ben Scott on being open-minded, client involvement and almost stealing art

The latest director to answer The Drum’s questions in our Director’s Chair series is Ben Scott, director at RSA films. His latest spot, 180 Kingsday’s ‘Our Newest Destination’ for Qatar Airways celebrates the FIFA Women’s World Cup France.

Previously in the series, The Drum has quizzed Miguel Campaña, Matías Moltrasio, Jamie Jay Johnson, Emmanuel Adjei, Henry Busby, Andrew Lang, Camille Marotte, Mea Dols de Jong, Klaus Obermeyer, Eli Roth, Mate Steinforth, Pamela Romanowsky, Traktor and Doug Liman.

Who or what inspired you to be a Director? (or who are your creative heroes and why?)

Terry Gilliam was a big figure in my childhood. My dad was a prop-maker and worked with the Pythons, Gilliam in particular. I remember as a small boy visiting the set of Time Bandits and thinking that all this stuff was so crazy awesome, I just had to be a part of it somehow. Then later watching the films of Fellini everything felt connected. I didn't set out to be a director. I was a production designer for a long time. It was only when I was designing Kaleidoscope for Red Bull and there was no director attached. I thought, what the hell why don't I do it. Fortunately for me, they agreed.

Outside of work, what are you into?

Well, I love food, so most places I go I am hunting for that special restaurant or unusual dish. I have just finished a cooking course at Billingsgate fish market. Cooking is both very creative and relaxing at the same time. Then, of course, you get to eat it. Aside from that, I have a small boy myself now and he takes up what is left of my spare time.

How would you describe your style of commercial/film making? What are you known for?

I guess I am known for in-camera effects or physical and visually arresting work. Having said that I am now working with a lot more in post-production. It is a very exciting time. Now that virtually anything is achievable, it is more important than ever to have a solid idea behind the work.

Have you got an idea about what sort of projects you’d like to work on or are you quite open-minded about what work comes your way?

Very open minded, I think you have to be these days. However, I do hanker for a nice Busby Berkeley type number.

When you’re looking at scripts and projects that come in, is there anything in particular that you’re looking for?

Yes, I am looking for a combination of things. Ideally, it will be something new for me and be something that has some visual element that I can work and play with. That doesn't mean it has to be a visual script, but something that I think I would be able to look at through my particular visual prism and show it in a new and interesting way.

What's your funniest moment on set?

We were working in Tate Britain and had to get in very early before the gallery opened. We had brought in lots of our own pieces of art including several sculptures including a large Henry Moore. The shoot finished at 10 in the morning just as the gallery was opening, and the art department team were removing all of the prop art. Nobody had told the new on-duty security about the shoot. So, all they saw on their CCTV was a bunch of guys wheeling several pieces of priceless art through the gallery. All I can tell you is that the place was in lockdown for a couple of hours whilst it got sorted out. Nobody went to prison so we could laugh about it.

What's your best piece of work?

I still think it is Red Bull Kaleidoscope. Mainly because I didn't expect to direct it in the first place, so it was a nice surprise that it went down well and people liked it.

Which ad do you wish you'd made?

There are a couple. I really like the Peugeot sculptor ad, it has such humanity and is at the same time ridiculous and totally believable. A piece of genius. But if I had to pick just one it would be Jonathan Glazers’ Sony Bravia Paint. Who doesn't love a massive explosion?

What's been the biggest change to the industry during your career?

The clients are much more involved these days. As a director part of the job is to smooth the flow of information. You have to roll your sleeves up and get in there. As we all know things can become complicated for a variety of reasons. However, everybody wants the best possible outcome for the job, so when that happens, I see my part is to make sure that everyone feels included, then decide which way to drive the bus.

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