Why it pays to take a gamble on new talent

Why it pays to take a gamble on new talent

Fresh creative talent is this industry’s lifeblood.

Yet all too often, when times get tough, agencies and brand owners want those with the biggest names and longest track records. 

Putting off investing in tomorrow’s creatives isn’t just short-sighted, however. It can also be a false economy.

New and emerging talent is always exciting. 

These days, however, it’s increasingly multi-faceted – emerging directors are often self-taught in filming and editing, with platforms such as TikTok and Instagram creating high quality content more accessible.

As a result, today’s fresh talent is well-positioned to bring not just a wide array of ideas and viewpoints, but also energy and drive to find different ways to do things and the initiative and ambition to make things work.

As well as emerging talent being more likely to bring cost effective ideas to fit with client’s ever-shrinking budgets, what they can offer in terms of freshness and commitment goes way beyond this.

Likewise, the absence of commercial work on an emerging director’s reel can feel like it brings a great degree of risk, but when supported by an experienced production team and crew, should remove any nervousness from the equation.

Rolling the dice.

A while ago, I was working in an internal events management role at We Are Social. When I realised events management was not for me, an executive producer there took a gamble on me. This led to my first role in commercials at its in-house production studio as a producer on an Audi commercial.

Thanks to the EP and agency giving me this opportunity, the door was then opened to exciting future opportunities, joining Sky as senior producer and freelancing at Mother’s independent creative agency The Or, before joining Black Sheep Studios. 

During this time, I also had the opportunity to mentor young talent – at East London school ELAM and No Trace - on a mentorship scheme set up by director Sunny Bahia to help underrepresented talent get into the industry.

Both opportunities made me see first-hand the energy and power of fresh thinking and new ideas. Likewise, I witnessed the barriers that can hold back emerging talent from breaking through. 

And all too often, one of the biggest challenges is getting creatives to entrust and believe in emerging talent, who perhaps don’t have commercial work on their reels yet, to bring their creative to life.

So, as someone whose own career in production began thanks to someone seeing past my lack of experience and believing in my potential, I am now firmly committed to nurturing new talent. Not only is it a stepping stone in making our industry more accessible, but it’s always repaying the favour from a personal perspective.

Don't miss out.

My advice would be to always put the time and effort into looking for exciting, emerging talent that haven’t yet been snapped up by production companies. It’s easy to revert back to our usual book of contacts, especially with quick turnaround projects, but allocating more time to research always pays off.

Instagram can be a goldmine to unearth emerging, talented filmmakers, as is Free the Work & The Dots. There are also incredible organisations championing underrepresented and emerging talent, a lot collated by Look Beyond The List, an incredible collective of talent. But active searching also includes taking the time to talk to the runner or 2nd or 3rd assistant director when out on shoots about what direction they’d like to go and any personal projects they’re working on, as a lot of the time you will find incredible talent on set with you.

It’s also important to work closely with the creative team to ensure at least one emerging or ‘wild card’ director is included in any three directors they put forward to any client. This is something I’ll continue to drive forward at Black Sheep, and it should be something that clients are excited to see.

So, take it from someone who zigzagged my way to where I am now in my career: when it comes to new talent, it can pay to take a gamble.

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