The Martini Shot: The importance of a production craft awards show
by Bobby Amm. Ciclope is a welcome development for the international production sector which has, for some time now, been fighting for greater recognition of the important contribution made by production companies in the making of great ads. Industry globalisation and a change in priorities have seen a shift in the way production companies are perceived, and one of Ciclope’s aims is to correct this. [Full disclosure: Commercial Producers Association is a partner of Ciclope Africa.]
Ciclope is different to other advertising festivals in that it’s dedicated to craft in moving image, including commercials and music videos. It also doesn’t focus on the idea but on the production, giving specific recognition to production companies, directors, creatives and technicians who work together to produce award-winning advertising and music videos. The main Ciclope Festival is held in Berlin each year and there are also festivals in Mexico City (Ciclope Latino), Tokyo (Ciclope Asia) and Los Angeles (US) and now Cape Town (Ciclope Africa). Winners converge in Berlin every November, where the continents square off for top honours.
Since Ciclope’s inception in 2010, it’s gone from strength to strength and is now favoured by some of the world’s top creatives who enjoy the intimacy. Ciclope will present Africa with a unique opportunity to showcase its best work on the international stage.
Most international festivals remain very weighted towards the client and agency and, although production companies are afforded a look in, the points system — which has become germane to these events — tends to dictate that most of the credit is given to agencies. To some extent, this has relegated the crafters of commercials to the role of service providers, rather than the creative partners of agencies tasked with the important work of successfully executing their great ideas.
Ciclope aims to change this, with recognition only in the craft categories of direction, cinematography, visual effects, animation, editing, production design, casting, writing and original music. While commercials may be entered by anyone in the chain, from client to supplier, and may also be produced for any market (including markets in other continents), the common denominator for Ciclope is that the work must have been performed by a citizen of the particular festival’s country. The award is made to the individual, rather than to an agency or client, in recognition of his or her contribution to the craft of commercial filmmaking.
Shift in thinking
This shift in thinking has proved a winning formula for Ciclope, which has managed to attract some top names in recent years in terms of the jury and attendance, including multi-awarded directors Tom Kuntz (MJZ), Noam Murro (Biscuit), Roman Coppola and Dougal Wilson (Blink), as well as creative legends such as Sir John Hegarty (BBH founder), and Susan Hoffman (W+K CCO).
Ciclope Festival Berlin now incorporates the awards, the Agora (a series of round-table networking events to discuss different topics and build networking relationships), the “Fresh” and “Service” markets (at which agencies, production and service companies may set up meetings to see if they can do business together), and also a terrific programme with world-class speakers. South African producers who’ve attended Ciclope report that it facilitates tremendous access and creates an unprecedented opportunity to connect with clients from both agencies and production companies.
Although Ciclope Africa will be limited to the awards in its first year, the intention is to build on the event in the future to incorporate our own market and networking functions, and to a build a platform on which to incorporate discussions on building creative capacity and tackling the issues that impact the industry.
Ciclope promises good things for the production and advertising industry in South Africa. The CPA is looking forward to celebrating the industry’s successes at Ciclope Africa — we hope you’ll join us.
Bobby Amm is chief executive of the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa (CPA), the trade association of production companies that produce television, cinema and internet commercials for the local and international market. After a brief stint in journalism, she began her career in the industry at the Consultative Committee for the Entertainment Industry in the early 1990s. She first joined the CPA in 1997 but left three years later to join a production company. After finding that she missed the big-picture perspective of the CPA and the interesting issues which continuously perplex the production industry, Bobby returned to the CPA in 2003. She contributes “The Martini Shot” column monthly, covering developments, trends and insights into the commercial production and film services industries in South Africa, to MarkLives.