By Creative Commission

21 March, 2016 - 09:05

Hollywood hit lights the way to the big league

A few short years ago Edward John Drake, by his own admission, was making a ‘really bad short film’ in his native Australia.

Cut to 2016: the self-taught filmmaker is doing a grand job of making his way in Hollywood, splitting his time between working as an assistant and being an in-demand music video director in his own right, collaborating with the Fratellis and Stanton Warriors.

Drake is an unfailingly humble, charming guy but when pressed, full of insightful opinions and ideas on pushing towards his ‘end game’ of making feature films.

Working as assistant to One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek and the producer of some of the most iconic music videos of all time, Sam Bayer, has undoubtedly served Drake well.

He repeatedly claims he’s "been lucky"  —  but when you speak with him, you get the strong impression that this is a man who makes his own luck on daily basis.

…on Creative Commission’s role in his current success

“Nick Clark reached out in 2014, and I was moved by the ambition and scope of the vision. It’s like Uber for commissioning, cutting through the noise to hear exactly what the artists and management teams want to see. Commissioners are a crucial part of the artistic process, and this super streamlined approach allows for the right creatives to be connected in an instant. [From a creative standpoint] you get to hear the track, see notes on the artists’ personal narrative and the campaign direction… then write up an idea and send it through.

"Creative Commission has helped me win a range of projects, from £2000-£20,000"

“Creative Commission helped me win a range of projects from £2000-£20,000. That might not be big, big jobs by Hollywood standards… yet. The growth of the site is phenomenal. It’s no-longer simply the jobs-between-jobs. As it grows, CC will be a disruptive player in the big leagues. It is definitely a resource for finding some of the most striking emerging artists.

“Back in the day, there were budgets of 100k for videos for new artists. Those days are long gone, yet the infrastructure still exists on the label side. So many mouths to feed, all needing to make a living. The CC community fosters a strong respect for the creatives… With so many voices in the room, you can start off pitching an orange…and end up making a pineapple.

“Creative Commission consolidates the process, meaning more of the investment ends up on the screen. Which is exactly what the artists need if their video is going to stand out.”

No artist wants to sacrifice the finished project for the sake of budget. Creative Commission means the don’t have to.

…on leaving your ego at the door

“I never pitch the same idea twice. Every song has a story — it’s creatively inefficacious to whore out the same concept for five different tracks for five different artists. Audiences are more sophisticated than ever, and they can absolutely detect when they’re being fleeced. Don’t cut corners.
“The focus needs to transition to a simple rule: everything should be for the artist. We’re just there to make the artist look as good as possible. That’s our job, nothing else.”
…on pimping your pitch to capture imagination

“I’d recommend anyone pitching should study the first page of great screenplays…Cool Hand Luke, The Prestige, The Limey, Apocalypse Now. The best convey ideas and worlds through quick, terse, smart, engaging language — economical writing hooks readers in. The pitch doesn’t need to be a blueprint, just the kernel of an idea which gets you excited. It can be as short as one sentence, if you’ve got the right sentence. Something like “A doomed romance between two surfers, captured from the point of view of a dying angel,” with the right imagery attached, can capture the imagination. Pick three photographs that show the essence of that world. I’d recommend using black and white shots — they’re really evocative and can fire the imagination even more.”

Our platform is still in its punk rock stage. We’re still waiting for our “Citizen Kane”… however Hiro Mushai’s work on Chet Fakers “Gold” is pure unadulterated genius

…on collaborating with artists

“Don’t be their friend. Don’t be a yes man. Hardest thing for a millennial to say is “no”, but you’ve got learn when and how to say it. Concentrate on the job of furthering their story and they’ll respect you as a fellow creator. Think about it, if you’ve got someone working with you who’s 100% focussed on making you look really fucking cool, then that’s just as a good as a friend isn’t it? Be professional and focus on the job.

“You want to talk to artists artist-to-artist, not artist-to-suit-to-artist. You know, if you’re working with Dr Dre, for example, you want to do right by him, not film twenty twerking girls being thrown through a door, or whatever it is that the manager wants or might be “fun” in the moment. Great managers understand that they are trained in one-thing (managing), and you as a filmmaker are trained in another.

“Take on board their ideas, of course. For some reason, every manager wants their artist to be hanging upside from a car holding a sword. Was fantastically cool the first time I saw it, now it’s a cliché. Why do so many of them want that? Where is that reference in popular culture? Maybe an 80’s movie? If anyone can answer that, I’ll buy them lunch at Silver Lake Ramen.”

…on staying fresh and inspired

“As one of the Scorpions barked to Danny Zuko; “The rules are… there ain’t no rules!

“However… avoid drawing influence from other music videos. If you have something new to say, say it. Otherwise, move on. An old boss spoke the truth when he leaned in close and whispered “You’re not the first person to make a film. Others have come before you — study their success and their failures.”

“Story trumps everything… except celebrity. If you have Ornaldo Bloom as the thumbnail pic, you can be guaranteed there’s an audience who wants to see what Legolas is up to after his stint as a pirate. Understand that your work is your reputation…. Every new project has to be to be your favourite project so far. Resist taking jobs simply for the money. If you’re here to get rich, piss off and go sell bad mortgage bonds. ”

… on keeping it professional the whole time

“During the entire production, stay sober. Some neurons in your limbic system will be firing on all cylinders instead of processing a mild hangover. There’s plenty of awesome directors in L.A. who do this, and it’s one of the most simple ways to be the best you can be.

“The main conflict on a music video is casting the lead female (that, and managers wanting to oversimplify the story). One shoot, five hours before it was due to start, an executive decided the lead was too reminiscent of his ex-girlfriend. A new casting session was held, we rushed the casting, and the project was lesser for it. To this day I’m still sad that happened.”

…the secret mantra? Create your own luck.

“Think like an audience member — see what the audience will see.

Walter Murch’s great “In The Blink Of An Eye” (2nd Edition) details how important it is to distance yourself and be objective during post-production. Does the shot serve the narrative? No? Cut it. The audience won’t ever hear about the crazy stories from set — they only understand what goes up on screen. I worked a couple days on The Revenant in Canada, and for all the “it was the hardest shoot in history stories,” I saw first hand what a feat of nature it was to pull off. However, I don’t think most audiences genuinely care what effort goes into making a film.

“Great commissioners see through the anecdotes and are looking for strong, confident filmmaking which gets people talking. You are a unique little snowflake, so get feedback from those with tastes you trust because they are also hold unique perspectives.

Be a commodity, find what’s special about you, work the problems that arise and never assume someone else will do the work for you.”

Find out more about Edward John Drake