To kick off the new year, albeit the end of the month already, we took some time out to chat with Bootleg Films' very own Greg Jordan. Anyone who has met Greg knows what an entertaining guy he is. Better still he's not a man to mince his words. Greg's experience in the industry is incredible, so we couldn't wait to hear from the man himself...
Happy New Year. How was 2017 for Bootleg Films and what are your plans for 2018? Any exciting projects in pipeline? (new signings, on look out for new talent etc)
2017 was OK overall, the first half better than the second half but I think that could be down to the craziness around the EU referendum outcome. I’m neither an economist nor a politician but it’s certainly having an effect on the mood of the industry and the nation as a whole. Or I could be talking total bollocks. Probably the latter. We’re always always looking out for new signings or fresh talent. Bootleg was set up on a pre-built roster and we attract talent as they genuinely want to be part of a company that has A listers already onboard. In fact the original core of the company is still exactly the same as it was when we started way back in 2013, with one and all being good friends. So we have to be mindful of anyone joining us is not only super talented but nice as well. We have a strict ‘No Arseholes’ policy. If they’re good we’re happy to talk to ‘em and if they’re nice we’ll have ‘em. This year is going to be huge for Bootleg, we’ve been planting seeds in 2017 and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all germinates. Hopefully one, if not all of them are magic beans.
Bootleg Films is a production company specializing in comedy. Was this always the plan?
We do have a leaning towards comedy, with a healthy smattering of visual. I started my career working on things like ‘Comic Strip Presents…..’ and that was a total riot to work on along with going to a shed load of live comedy so I’m personally drawn towards it. I do understand it and get it. We didn’t start off saying “right we do comedy” but we did gravitate towards it purely because the directors we are interested in do comedy, the people we like do comedy. Generally it’s more fun to be talking about something funny and clever than standing around rubbing your chin saying “it would be amazzzinnnggggg if we could get the butterfly to transform into a woman made of silk as she sprays herself with the Chanel No69 and then she turns in to the bottle”. Meanwhile, someone at the agency is insisting that we find some bloke or woman who did someone’s nail polishing for an edition of Vogue but they can’t remember what edition or what it was for. Actually, I like to think we do performance. Performance is the pre-requisite of all good comedy.
Bootleg has a very strong brand. We see you have your own vodka and whiskey branded booze. Did you find it easy to come up with the name/branding?
The name, in-fact the whole Bootleg thing came out of a round table session in a pub with my chums and we were discussing a very important part of my life - me. It wasn’t a massive session but within an hour it was decided I should start a company. After about a zillion names were coughed up the director and close friend Liz Murphy came up with “what about Bootleg?”. My initial reaction was that it must be taken. A quick Companies House search came back that it was clean so away we went. Without question it wasn’t going to be bettered and within 3 days we had the design, the branding and the website up and running. Equally as important it gave us an identity. A name we could say without squirming or explaining what the name means.
Greg, you’ve worked on some of the nation’s most loved commercials, Blackcurrant Tango’s ‘St George’, with some fantastic directors such as Roger Woodburn, Darren Aronofsky. Do you think comedy has changed a lot over the years? Would Blackcurrant Tango for instance stand up in today’s climate?
I’ve worked on some amazing commercials over the years as either a crew member or a producer. Yes, I do think the comedy has changed over the years. Not so much comedy in general, more comedic commercials and content..Only a handful of directors can consistently pull it off. Blackcurrant Tango might be made now, it would stand up for sure but probably would get scuppered at the research stage. There are still some very funny commercials being written and made but if you look at the last couple of years of the APA 50 they’re nearly all glossy, fancy product, visually driven bunch of shots put together in a nice order. Feels like everyone is a bit more serious about comedy now. Sometimes we do get a very good script with a fantastic agency and client and we can go in and really help make something really stand out from the crowd. Tim Kirkby’s Deezer Geezer being a case in point I think it’s a strange mix of great casting, engaging visuals, odd sound effects and Henry Blofeld ‘Blowers’ doing the V/O. What’s not to like about all that!
You’ve also worked on the most complained about ad of all time (KFC). Tell us about that...
It was beauty. I was producing at the awesome Hungryman in 2006 and the director Scott Vincent was on a roll with BBH on a KFC campaign where real people were singing the story. Well it was about the 3rd one in on the campaign and it was decided to have 2 women who answer the calls at an emergency call centre, but with the added bonus that they’ve got their mouths stuffed with food as they’re trying to answer the calls and sing. It was really quite gross but the main complaint and there was truly 1000’s of them was mainly from Mums phoning up saying they’ve spent the last 15 years teaching their kids not to talk with their mouths full only for KFC to put out an ad where they’re virtually spraying food all over the computers and colleagues. BBC Radio 4 even featured the scale of the complaint in a programme, that’s what I call success. As Bob Dylan sang ‘there’s no success like failure and failure’s no success at all’ – or something like that that.
View the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmSJfZYBYzo
and read what the Telegraph had to say: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/9299226/Kentucky-Fried-Chicken-singing-advert-was-most-complained-about-of-all-time.html
Do you think agencies need to take more risks when it comes to comedy?
Yes they should. If they can take a deep breath and fight the fight that needs to be had if they truly believe they know what they’re doing. If they can tell the client they were hired for the expertise then it would be a fine thing. We shot a commercial pre-Bootleg days with our director Calle Astrand for Saatchi&Saatchi NY the client being Tide featuring a talking stain on a shirt that spouts gibberish during a job interview. The client wasn’t convinced it was the best idea they’ve ever heard. The agency paid for it convinced it was a winner. They were right, it was a huge success and it went on to be voted the viewer’s best ad during Superbowl and won award after award. It was a simple idea, simply shot, beautifully performed with the punch line ‘Silence The Stain’ totally nailing it for the ad and thus the product. That’s what we need more of. Is ‘balls out’ still an acceptable phrase?
Everyone associates brands with their advertising. I’m not going to list the great ad brands as everyone knows who they are but Jeez come on industry people it can’t be that bloody hard.
To view a selection of Bootleg Film's spots mentioned in this article please click here: https://wdrv.it/72595414d/grid