What do you call a film company that specialises in “meaningful stories created for the digital space?”
This very question was on the minds of Mark Sherborne Remi Luxford as they took to the streets of Sydney’s Surry Hills one sunny day in early 2016.
They had just set up a new company that was short of nothing but a moniker. With the support and backing of award winning UFO Film, years of hands on industry experience and access to some of the finest camera & post equipment available, the boys were well on their way to success. But what to call the bugger?
As happenstance would have it they passed a park named ‘Frog Hollow Reserve’. Upon reading the conveniently located council sign connoting the Reserve’s History they discovered that between 1985 and 1904 the now seemingly innocuous space was considered to be “one of the most depraved areas of Sydney”.
Bingo! Named solved. Frogs Hollow was born.
The following interview was conducted at Frogs Hollow’s headquarters in Surry Hills, a stones throw from its name-sake.
CROSSING THE LINE: “So Frogs Hollow is specialising in content then?”
SHERBORNE: “Our focus is on content. In a nut shell, we’re specialising in putting beautifully conceived well told stories on film.”
LUXFORD: “Exactly! Everyone has a story to tell. Garbage Collectors, Accountants, Rocket Scientists, Wheat Farmers ….. anyone. If you can identify exactly what that story is and the benefit it can be to clients and their customers then you have a great content piece that will allow anyone to have a strong credible voice in the market place.
Even very small companies, sole traders can use our services.
Because we’re well resourced we can be self-sufficient. We can offer powerful filmic answers to what may have previously seemed like unsolvable marketing problems.”
CROSSING THE LINE: “How do you two guys work together?”
SHERBORNE: “We work great together. Remi is the film guy. He grew up in the industry. His dad Les is a very highly regarded director/producer. When you’re that close to it for so many years, film becomes an innate part of who you are I think. He has a background in editing and now directs. But it’s more than that. For a lot of clients we reverse brief. We investigate the story, conceive how it should be presented, take into account what format it will eventually be seen on ….. and then we shoot it. Understanding not just what film can do but also appreciating what it can’t do is a big part of what Remi brings to the table. On the film side, if we don’t totally agree, I defer to Remi.”
LUXFORD: “Mark has a sixth sense about what will work for a client.
He can go right to the heart of their business, find the story and then explain to them. Recently a client briefed us to produce a film. He said the final result should appear ‘amateurish’. Now that’s not what he really meant but that’s how he described it. Mark was intuitive enough to realise the client was grappling with terminology. We produced a film that was anything but amateurish but it had a relaxed, casual tone about it. The client said that was exactly what they wanted. Mark’s the business guy, the suit. I’m not sure exactly what suits do but you know when they’re not doing it. He listens and understands what clients are saying. He can then translate that information into a viable solution for the client’s marketing needs.
See, I do know what he does. We have a unique working relationship because we balance each other.”
CROSSING THE LINE: “So you don’t do ads?”
SHERBORNE: “ Advertising is what UFO is brilliant at so they take care of that side of the business. As I said before we’re specializing in content and all the opportunities it presents. Which are many. We’ve already done some amazing work but really we’ve only scratched the surface. Because were telling stories in an unrestrictive format, that is no time limitations there are more script options available to us.
We can have a definitive beginning, middle and ending and the product can take a well-defined and meaningful role. It’s not there just because it has to be. We want audiences to engage with our films and be entertained by the content.”
CROSSING THE LINE: “ So, the medium defines the message?”
LUXFORD: “As Mark said before, we minutely consider how a piece of film is going to be used because it will affect the way we shoot it.
Over the years there’s been a lot of conjecture about what constitutes an idea. Execution doesn’t often get a run. I client once told me in a presentation that if the idea was execution dependent we were fired.
But in the mix of things we have to work with, scripts …… cameras … actors …. music ….. lighting ….. fx …… editing ….. if we get the mix right … and Frogs Hollow does ….. the execution you see will be spectacular. An exceptional piece of film can make an audience really feel something. But execution shouldn’t swamp the story. You have to have a good story too. Sorry, I got a bit carried away there for a minute. What was the question?”
CROSSING THE LINE: “I think we were talking about what is content?”
SHERBORNE: “A good story told well about a client’s company and or their brand, beautifully captured on film that will be of enormous interest to a designated audience.”
LUXFORD: “One of the great benefits of content is you have the time to burrow down and tell an audience the details of what a product is and what the benefits are. You have the opportunity talk to the people who make it and hear their passion for what they do. We can interview the people who buy it and expose what motivates them.
Every product is interesting if you speak to the person who knows it inside out. I once knew a guy, who early on in his career was a sales rep for a huge multi national. Amongst other things he sold green beans. Now he could make you believe green beans were the most interesting thing in the entire world because he knew everything there was to know about them, and then some. We’re storytellers first and foremost. We use film to convey those stories.”
SHERBORNE: “No-one really cares about your idea until it’s made.Frogs Hollow is here to help ensure more good stories have the opportunity to be told.”
CROSSING THE LINE: “The future?”
SHERBORNE: “My girlfriend is a school teacher. She can’t believe how fast a ten year old can use snapchat. Four year olds know how to order online. Seriously! I know it’s been said before about computer literacy but I don’t think we can fully comprehend how intuitive digital is going to be for the kids now and will be tomorrow. At Frogs Hollow we consistently review what’s interesting and how it should be delivered.”
LUXFORD: “We’re in a good place. We’ve indentified what Frogs Hollow is and what it offers clients …. where we sit in the market, who our competitors are, we’re well resourced and focussed. And we’ve already got runs on the board (list).
SHERBORNE: “Shit Remi, you’re sounding like me.”
CROSSING THE LINE: “Thanks for your time guys.”