Q&A: Director Ed Sayers Talks about ‘Straight 8’, its Debut in Asia and Doing Stuff

Image courtesy of Ed Sayers

Director Ed Sayers is bringing the straight 8 industry shootout to Asia for the first time at Thailand’s AdFest.

The concept, which requires entrants to make a film on one roll of super 8mm cine film, with no second takes, no editing, no post-production, first launched in Cannes in 2016 and has since moved to the CICLOPE Festival of Craft, in Berlin.

Some of the world’s top creative agencies including Droga5, 72andSunny, Wieden + Kennedy, adam&eveDDB have entered.


 

Barbara Messer recently spoke to Ed Sayers, Founder of the straight 8 film competition, and director/producer at Seven Productions in London, about why he’s opening up the straight 8 industry shootout to creative companies in Asia.


What inspired you to bring the straight 8 industry shootout to AdFest next year?

The straight 8 industry shootout format has been going since 2016 and was based on an event I ran with Steve Davies from the APA for London ad agencies. We decided to re-boot it and open it to any companies working in the ad industry.


 

It’s probably not going to turn out ‘perfect’ but you won’t spend months or even a minute in edit suites and post-houses and no-one will be questioning anything about the edit – because there won’t be one.

straight 8 creates a level playing field. You’ll see a music company going head to head with a major agency for example, and all for charity.

We’re all excited about what stories people will tell with their straight 8 films, and from where, at ADFEST 2018.

Why should creatives think about being a part of straight 8?

Here’s a massive empty cinema screen. Have two and a half minutes to show hundreds of creative people whatever you want, WITH NO BRIEF. Make the film you want to make, yes, but also tell it in a way that will make the audience feel gripped, entertained, enlightened.

It’s probably not going to turn out ‘perfect’ but you won’t spend months or even a minute in edit suites and post-houses and no-one will be questioning anything about the edit – because there won’t be one. You’ll just be waiting anxiously to see it weeks later, at ADFEST, big, in front of your peers and competitors. If you like creative pressure, what’s not to like?!

Your motto is beautifully simple: ‘Do stuff.’ What sort of stuff have you done this year?

‘Do Stuff’ should be a tattoo but I’m not brave enough! I’m ducking the answer slightly to say that I’m actively looking for a project to tie in with the trip to ADFEST in March. I’m looking to work with a charity to run a straight 8 workshop with people who’ve got stories and would never get to try this out.

For a couple of years I’d been thinking about making a short film, editing only in camera, on super 8mm. Since I wasn’t getting around to doing it, I then had the idea of asking a bunch of friends to do the same, thinking that the collective deadline would galvanise us into action.

That’s a Do Stuff that someone reading this may be able to help with… Something worthwhile, in the region. We’ve held workshops where in one day you conceive, plan, shoot, hand-process and project your straight 8 film, come nightfall.  I’d like something like that to be my next Do Stuff. So if you’re reading this and have an idea, please contact me.

When did you first get the idea of launching a straight 8 film competition?

For a couple of years I’d been thinking about making a short film, editing only in camera, on super 8mm. Since I wasn’t getting around to doing it, I then had the idea of asking a bunch of friends to do the same, thinking that the collective deadline would galvanise us into action.

I asked 20 friends working in production if they wanted a cartridge to have a go with. Cut a long story short, we screened our premieres in a packed 200-seater West End cinema in London. That was May 28th 1999.

What’s so good about super 8mm film?

16mm and 35mm cameras run up and down to speed and that shows in the rushes, so you have to edit. (That’s why the focus puller says ‘Speed!’ when the camera reaches the right running speed, after they hear ‘Turn-over!’) Finally, because it’s film and you have to send it away to be processed, there’s always additional excitement and anticipation about seeing your results.


The first 20 companies to enter at 8am (Thailand time) on Wednesday December 13th will be this year’s competitors. Register now at straight8.net/adfest-2018

Picture of Barbara Messer

Barbara Messer

Barbara is a Sydney-based content strategist, writer, editor, and communications consultant.

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