Last night we were joined by the highly acclaimed director (and former Leither, don't you know?), Dougal Wilson, as part of our Bold on the Barge event series.
We asked Dougal to talk about how he thinks 'being bold' has helped shape his work. And if any portfolio is worth looking to for inspiration, one that has become a widely talked-about part of popular culture, picked up a Grand Prix at Cannes and has won a host of other awards including a British Music Video Award and 5 D&AD yellow pencils feels about right. In fact, Dougal was awarded with a (very well deserved) British Arrow’s ‘Best Crafted Commercial’ for his We're The Superhumans Paralympics ad just the night before he joined us.
However, whilst Dougal acknowledged that ‘being bold’ has been a guiding principle for his work, he admitted that it’s his fear of boring people which drives him to make his work interesting and entertaining. It also quickly became clear that this restless passion for creating ideas is bigger than any overarching philosophy, and certainly doesn’t conform to the pattern of clocking in and out (as any creative worth his or her salt can relate to).
So it was upon the barge that we enjoyed part of an eclectic collection of films that have inspired Dougal, from Spike Jonze to the 2001 Space Odyssey, and Michel Gondry to Dr. Strangelove. We saw snippets from his sketchbooks (which fill countless bookcases), watched his self-titled ‘crap-o-matics’ (“like animatics, but more crap”) behind ads such as John Lewis’s Never Knowingly Undersold and IKEA’s Playin’ with my Friends, and even re-visited his first ever Christmas ad, a self-promo film done for Leith in 1996.
“I call them crap-o-matics they're like animatics, but more crap.”- Dougal W.
It's impossible not to feel inspired by Dougal's work, which reminds us that a great soundtrack can take an ad from good to great, and that the best ideas are so simple they can be summarised in a sentence or two.
So, Dougal, if you’re ever reading this, thanks for joining us. And maybe try and stop worrying that you’re boring people. We listened to you for about 2 hours and it felt like 20 minutes.
-Written by Eilidh M.