David Reviews

 Biting the hand that feeds us since 2002.

HENRY MASON'S BOLD NEW REEL.

After taking advantage of opportunities in Ireland and Australia, Henry Mason finally has a reel which offers a representation of what he can deliver - and he's embarking on a new chapter in his career as a director.

He's also got new representation in the UK after joining the roster at BOLD films and and when DAVID spoke to Mason in Australia recently, we discovered he's looking forward to a bright future with them.

Henry Mason's father was a successful photographer, so you'd have thought that he'd have had a lot of support when pursuing his dream of becoming a director. Not a bit of it. His father told him: "You don't want a freelance lifestyle, you'll be miserable all your life."

Dad persuaded him to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at university but it didn't go well: "It was a disaster, because I just couldn't read any books or anything."

He moved to Exeter and switched to studying drama and it was while he was there that he started making his own little films.


As far as the young filmmaker was concerned this was a golden age for opportunists: "Digital cameras had suddenly had arrived, and you could make stuff look quite good yourself. You didn't need a £100,000 movie camera." Better still: "Online content had just arrived, and everyone was like, 'We need online content! Even though no one knows what it is!'"


The agencies are so great there, because they're much more intimate, and there's less of a corporate air... they give you more of a free rein there.

 ”

Mason made a few bits and pieces for Wieden & Kennedy and these caught the attention of RSA who added him to their expansive roster. This was followed by stints at Stink and Independent but the opportunities weren't really coming his way in the UK so he opted to take decisive action by pursuing projects in Ireland and Australia: "I wasn't getting the right work in London that I wanted and so I started refocusing on Ireland.

"I have a great relationship with a producer called Andrew Friedman in Dublin... he has a company called Antidote. The agencies are so great there, because they're much more intimate, and there's less of a corporate air... they give you more of a free rein there."


He describes how the close-knit Irish scene helps to foster a really collaborative approach: "They want an honest opinion when they send you a script, and they want to know what you think is good, and they're not upset if you identify problems.

"So you work together to create something very special. You'll go to get your coffee in the morning and you'll bump into the client or the account director or someone.

"If you get their trust, and you're prepared to cover what they want, then - if you're working with a great producer - you can engineer the shoot. By the time you're in the edit, I think 70% of the time they'll be like, 'Yeah, what you've shot is better. We'll go with that.' As long as you've covered yourself, I just think you can get away with a bit more."



He love the Australian can-do attitude: "I just shot a really nice spot, which we just finished. It was a decent one-day budget, but what we decided to do was actually reduce the crew to a really small crew, and just shoot at sunrise and sunset with a small crew, and split stretch the one-day budget to three days.

"They were open to it, and we managed to create something really beautiful because of the light... they were open to trying a different model, and not just sticking with the same old obvious way of doing things."


What I've learned is that small production companies, where the main producer owns the company, offer a massive benefit.

 ”

This hankering for creative adaptability is part of what drew him to BOLD: "What I've learned is that small production companies, where the main producer owns the company, is a massive benefit.

"Because you really can have that open, 'Why don't we do it like this. Why don't we just do it completely not the obvious way to do it, why don't we reimagine our way of doing it.' You're talking to the guy who ultimately can make that decision. He doesn't have to talk to anyone else. He can say, 'Yeah, let's do it.' Because it's his company, and his neck on the line."


Children show up quite a lot in his work, but he doesn't worry about pigeon-holing because he's just so pleased to be making commercials:

"I want to shoot more feature films, and continue to shoot really great commercials. I think what happened with regards to the kids thing is that I've managed to bring a kind of raw, natural style which - I hope - helps scripts that could be quite saccharine and too sweet, by treading that fine line between emotionally touching and being so sweet that it makes you want to throw up!

"I think that philosophy of finding the truth in character and in photography, and in styling and the world that you create, is at the heart of what I do."

For more on Henry Mason, contact Sarah Tognazzi at BOLD on 020 7908 6060 or via email at sarah@boldcompany.co.uk.

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David Reviews - Lovely Lenzie Ltd, Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.