From the biggest music performers to the education communities, coastal artists, and more, Andy Delany and Rich With talk to the Backstage Centre Director, Brian Warrens about their work and future plans.
Let’s meet them….
Andy Delaney’s work is head-turning! He is a filmmaker with more than 30 years of experience.
Fast Facts Five….
#1 He’s directed over 100 music videos for artists such as George Michael, Lauryn Hill, Spice Girls, Maroon 5, Duran Duran, Biffy Clyro, Sinead O’Connor, David Gray, and Ryuichi Sakamoto.
#2 He’s Grammy nominated and has won 4 MTV awards including Video of the Year with for Lauryn Hill’s iconic ‘Doo Woo (That Thing)’ video.
#3 He’s also made tv commercials for Nike, Levis, Mercedes, Lacoste, Eurostar, Reebok, Becks, Subaru, and Burger King.
#4 His feature film ‘Love is Blind’ starring Matthew Broderick, Chloe Sevigny, and Aidan Turner was released in 2019.
#5 Currently finishing his second feature film ‘Holly By Midnight’, Andy also collaborates with visual artists and art institutions and has three more feature films in development.
He has given masterclasses in film-making and is keen to help young film-makers understand the less obvious aspects of the business, including the Backstage Centre’s Re: Generation2031 trainee, Neve Rogers, who was given the opportunity to work with Andy and Rich in the making of this commercial.
Q: Andy, can you tell us about your background and how you got started in the film industry?
I studied visual communications at Goldsmiths College and started making student music videos right away. I got a telesales job after college and used it to pester all the record companies until I persuaded Factory Records to give me a chance with New Order. I said I’d pay for it and they could buy it if they liked it.
Luckily they did.
Then I got spotted by a production company in London and I was away.
Q: Can you share any insights or tips for young filmmakers who are just starting out in the industry?
The best way to learn is watch and copy. Look at work you really like again and again and again, then go out and try and replicate scenes or shots. While you’re doing that build a network of like-minded individuals so that you can be involved in making things and learn how to work with others. Filmmaking is a social enterprise- you can’t do it on your own.
So be nice if you want to get ahead.
Q: How did you approach directing music videos for a diverse range of artists like George Michael, Spice Girls and Sinead O’Connor?
I always wanted to make videos that stood out which meant creating easily recognisable and distinctive imagery.
It also meant creating ideas that were very simple to explain. The most successful videos for me were the ones I could describe in two sentences. I wanted the viewer to know the video even if they only saw it for 10 seconds.
Here is a snippet of the brilliant music videos Andy has had the pleasure to create….pure magic!
Q: What was your experience like being nominated for a Grammy and winning 4 MTV awards?
I wasn’t there for the Grammys or the MTV awards. I was busy working and didn’t believe I had a chance to win so I didn’t go.
I got told I’d won on the phone after the event. With the MTV awards, I was in New Zealand filming a Mercedes commercial in a field full of sheep in the rain. When the news came through we had a celebratory hot chocolate and carried on. Missing those events still hurts!
Q: Do you have a top-tip for our readers when you must balance the creative vision of a music video with the artist’s brand and audience expectations?
Before you come up with an idea, you’ve got to study the artist’s previous videos. That will tell you a lot about their aesthetic and how to avoid repeating something inadvertently. You can’t worry about audience expectations because the only audience that counts is the band or artist.
Same thing with ads – do your homework.
Q: How does the process differ for creating a tv commercial for a brand like Nike or Mercedes from the work you produced for the music industry?
Advertising is very different from music videos. You don’t come up with the idea, that’s the agency’s job. You’re hired to bring the script to life. The only way to succeed is to have a very distinctive style which you know the agency likes because they’ve asked you to bid on the job. So your pitch must reflect their idea in your style. Even then you’ll probably only get one in five jobs. Advertising agencies look at dozens of directors’ reels before selecting three or four to pitch.
Most of your time will be spent pitching on jobs that you don’t get. It’s tough.
Q: What inspired you to transition from music videos and tv commercials to feature films?
I moved from music videos into commercials because I started getting sent scripts for ads after my videos became popular. It wasn’t something I’d planned. But feature films were something I wanted to do as soon as I felt confident as a director. For the first five years of directing I felt like a fraud so I had to get over that first.
The problem was the first four scripts never made it to production and it took 10 years to get one off the ground.
Q: Can you tell us more about your feature film ‘Love is Blind’ and the story behind it and the challenges it presented?
I knew the producer because she and I had tried to make a couple of films before. I loved the script, but the challenge was how to make it as a very low budget movie. We had to turn at $10 million project into something we could do for $2 million. Luckily we got a great cast and through very careful planning we were able to shoot the movie in 19 days. I got favours from my post production buddies at Framestore to do the vfx which really helped.
The trailer for ‘Love is Blind’ features some excellent signatures of Andy’s work and style. See for yourself here…
Q: How do you achieve the artistic vision with the practical considerations of filmmaking, such as ever decreasing budgets and greater expectations from a client?
Managing expectations has become critical. Never overpromise to get a job.
My advice is to develop your craft in a way that avoids relying on using equipment or special effects. If you know how to shoot in natural light with just the camera on a tripod and still make beautiful imagery you’ll be able to make good films with very little money.
Q: Is there a significant difference on how do you approach collaborating with visual artists and art institutions on film projects, such as the exemplary work with Elsa James?
When it comes to collaborating with artists I use the skills I’ve built up in music videos and commercials. My goal is to deliver the best possible quality of filmmaking, regardless of the subject matter. I learnt in music videos to always reflect the ethos of the band or artist while making them look as good as possible.
In my opinion working with artists is no different.
It also really helps that I know my art history so I can communicate my thoughts to them effectively.
Q: Rich, can you tell us about your background and how you got started in the creative industry?
I did a degree in Corporate Communications, which really wasn’t my thing. I bought myself a Mac and self-taught myself Photoshop and then ended up in newspapers for a while, laying out pages and designing ads, etc. Then I did a stint overseas and ended up designing and making signs in the Caribbean.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the creative industry?
Network! Learn to hold a conversation. Be genial. There are loads of pixel pushers, camera ‘experts’, and social ‘experts’, but the ability to be able to talk to people from all walks of life, empathise with them, and create some sort of bond – even if it’s only for half an hour will set you apart from others.
Q: How did your experience in newspapers and working with companies like Barclays, West Ham United, and Air Canada inform your work in brand films?
Again it’s about communication first and foremost. If you can talk to the head of Barclays International in the morning and a Beach Bar owner in the afternoon and treat them with the same respect and integrity then you have some pretty desirable skills. On paper, they are wide apart, but essentially they want the same thing. For their brand and business to resonate with as many people as possible.
Q: How do you approach creating stylised compositions while also staying true to the brand’s strategy?
We do have lots of discussions with the client and always make sure the key decision makers are involved in the creative process so you keep ‘on-brand’ where appropriate but for me you have greater creative freedom in a film than you will have on a print ad or social media campaign. We look to create a story or visuals that will inspire and excite, and then make sure it ties in with the strategy that a brand may have in place.
Q: What are the highlights in producing a brand film from start to finish?
It’s the perfect role for a control freak or someone who loves the organisational process. You get to dictate certain terms from the start and bring in the people you think are appropriate for each project. I like to think I’m pretty hands-on so will have an idea of the cast, look, style, etc which I’ll then discuss with the relevant members of the team. You get to enjoy the whole creative process from the start and you always learn something new.
Q:…and what are the lows??
If it goes pear-shaped. The buck stops with you.
Q: What top tip could you give our readers about how you balance the creative aspects of content production with practical considerations, such as budget and timeline?
For me, it’s about collaboration first and foremost. Let the Writer, Director, and Stylist run wild and come up with their best ideas. It’s then up to you to encourage and nurture or even steer those ideas in a direction. But, at the same time if the Director suddenly wants an Elephant for a scene it’s up to you to remind them it’s 2 am and you’re in Norwich so pachyderms are a bit thin on the ground!
Q: How do you stay current with the constantly evolving trends and technologies in the creative industries? Are emerging technologies threats or opportunities?
Everything seems like a threat at first. I can see a situation where the role of a graphic designer is eroded within a decade as AI becomes more and more ubiquitous. That said, the same thing happened in the 80s when desk-top publishing took over Fleet Street, and overnight hundreds of paste-up artists were out of work. There were opportunities but they were for those who embraced the technology and learned the new skills. No matter how hard the AI tech works, it’s still no match for the imagination and creativity of the human brain. I think we’ll be OK.
Check out Rich’s work in this excellent showreel.
It has been a delight to introduce you to New Art Film’s esteemed UK film and video makers, Andy Delaney and Rich With. We look forward to working together in the future.
With such a wealth of experience in the film, music video, and corporate sectors, both have established themselves as creative solution providers both in the UK and internationally.
In an ever-changing hybrid industry, the role of our filmmakers and creative content producers from companies like New Art Films has never been more important. Working with schools and training providers is firmly on their radar.
Following the recent Provider Access Legislation introduced by the UK Government, the education and careers sector has faced significant challenges. To assist the education sector in effectively communicating their campaigns and reaching out to schools in their area, Andy and Rich are eager to collaborate and create a tailored range of products that showcase the diverse career pathways available to students as they progress from Key Stage 3 into further and higher education. Their expertise will also assist schools in understanding how their students can gain access to courses, apprenticeships, and other training opportunities provided by local training providers.
The unique and bespoke products created by Andy and Rich will be invaluable in supporting a school or college’s educational initiatives and communicating the benefits of various career pathways to students.
For more information, you can contact Andy and Rich directly HERE.
Further information on Training
The Backstage Centre’s education partners, the University Centre South Essex (UCSE) and South Essex College(SEC), proudly boast a collection of creative industries courses, including Animation, Games, Media and Production, performance pathways in Dance, Acting and Musical Theatre, Music, TV, Film, and Broadcast industries across three campus locations in the City of Southend, Basildon, and Thurrock.
Whether you are a young person considering those all-important next steps, a parent looking for information, or you are already working and looking to retrain or refresh, why not check out the courses available from UCSE and SEC.
Here is the latest insight into UCSE’s BA (Hons) in Costume Construction.