This week we 'Sit Down With' the Founders of Arthur and Martha, Sarah Browell and Natalie Hill.
It's always good to see great people doing well and this week's featured duo are no exception. In just two years the much admired, talented and fun pair have created and developed their production services company into a brand that is now included on the credits of a growing number of successful productions.
So, let's hear from the ladies themselves. Over to you 'Arthur and Martha'...
Arthur and Martha AKA Sarah Browell and Natalie Hill
Hello Arthur & Martha. First things first, which one is Arthur & which one is Martha?
NH: We’re both! Basically, we wrote a list of names and we just wanted something memorable and quite catchy. Arthur and Martha was the one we kept coming back to. And it helped that my daughter is also called Martha.
SB: Most people assume my cat is Arthur …. he’s actually called Harvey.
You’re coming up to your 2nd year anniversary. Tell us about Arthur and Martha and about your approach to the production process?
NH: We’re an independent production outfit. We do two things: we work with agencies that don’t have in house production and on other projects, we take on the role of a production company.
SB: The industry has been changing for some time now and the approach to production needs to be a lot more fluid whilst still maintaining a high standard of creativity. By setting up an independent company, we aren’t locked into a regimented process so we can adapt to the requirements of each project or production.
You met at DDB and have also freelanced at various agencies across London. What made you decide to go it alone?
SB: It never felt like we were going alone as it was always the two of us. It just seemed like an obvious move to set up shop together.
Have you found the industry has changed much since you first started Arthur and Martha?
NH: Yes, but our intention has always been to adapt and evolve with it. We’ve created leaner/stronger relationships with our existing production partners but also found new independent and unique companies that we weren’t aware of before, who are collaborative in their approach and forward thinking. Like us, they also embrace a very flexible way of working.
SB: One thing that hasn’t changed since we started is the structure of the company. We always wanted to work as a TV department and by having our lovely office on Carnaby Street, it’s very much a team of producers working alongside each other.
What do you find are the main challenges you face as a production outfit in the current advertising landscape?
SB: Probably not having enough time! There’s so much going on in the industry, such as seminars, screenings, events, etc we sometimes don’t get to embrace it as much as we’d like to. I think that’s a common challenge with most companies. However, we’re very lucky we’ve been so busy this year it’s enabled us to add two brilliant permanent members to the team whilst also bringing on some of the industry’s top freelance producers.
How important do you think it is to bring in a production team early on in the process?
NH: A lot of our clients now do. Because we are fortunate with the way we are set up, many of our clients include us in the process early on which is a more productive way of working. It means we are in a better position to highlight any problems or challenges in advance.
Earlier this year you shot in Thailand shooting with David Beckham, AIA Insurance and Academy’s Wally Pfister. Tell us more about this specific project and how it came about.
SB: This was an interesting one as it actually came via BBDO Singapore. However, the creative director, production company Academy and all of Beckham’s team were based out of London so it was a natural fit to get someone on the ground here. We also produced the stills campaign as well as the TVC. Two of our other producers, Spru Rowland and Amber Clayton did a fantastic job of producing on location in Bangkok with the man himself.
NH: Don’t get me wrong though, if it was Steven Gerrard, I would’ve been there like a shot!
You worked on some other great campaigns this year. Are there any specific moments that have stood out for you? (bar schmoozing with the Becks)
SB: One of our first projects was with Vinnie Jones which was terrifying and wonderful in equal measure. Don’t want to mess about with Vinnie!
NH: Filming a world famous stunt driver on a frozen lake in the Yukon for Castrol was quite special too.
SB: Oh and beating our neighbours Mcasso Music at the annual Arthur and Martha v Mcasso Olympics. Events included darts, pool, beer pong and a finale of running around a victorian square at midnight. We won … although Mcasso will always argue this.
Your logo is synonymous with both of you. We hear a possible collaboration/exhibition with the designer, Animation Director Drew Cope (of former Tokyoplastic) is in the pipeline?
NH: Yes! We’ve known Drew for a long time. We’ve just worked with him on a lovely 60 second animated film and yes - are also hosting an exhibition of his work in the New Year. He’s also responsible for our design ware in the office!
Not only do you have a great office in the heart of Carnaby Street, you also have a brilliant production team featuring some of advertising’s best producers. Do you have plans to expand in the near future?
NH: Always! There’s a great pool of producers of all levels out there who we would love to work with. Also one thing that’s great about our model is that we get a chance to mentor up-and-coming producers which is something we’re really interested in.
SB: We like working with a diverse range of companies. The budgets aren’t what they used to be so we are lucky we can offer solutions and work together with our clients without jeopardizing the creative.
And lastly, what are the pearls of wisdom you follow in life.
NH: You’ve got to enjoy what you do day in and day out. We still love the job and this industry and try to enjoy everything it offers when we can.
SB: Including making time for Friday burgers!