DAVID reviews

18 October 2016

Skunk's new signing boosts London line-up.

by Jason Stone

 
 

By signing talented young director Ehsan B, Skunk have once again demonstrated their commitment to building a strong home-based roster at their London office.

Meeting with Ehsan recently, DAVID discovered a young man brimming with the energy and all-round talent which distinguishes the best of the new generation of filmmakers.

Declaring himself a new convert to 'vegetarianism', Ehsan B pondered the options on the menu at the bistro where we met and quickly recalibrated his decision: "I think maybe I'm going to be a pescatarian instead," he said, laughing as he ordered the squid.

It was a flippant manifestation of an adaptability that has served him well as he's built a career as a director: "The student films I was making were being nominated for awards and I thought: 'hey, I've got a knack for this' but I was quite distracted by DJ-ing and I was touring for a couple of years with that... but every time I was back in town I'd shoot anything I could and I was given the opportunity to do a documentary for the BBC."


I got back to London and I was looking for a new company to rep me and people kept saying 'go see Kate Taylor' and I was like: 'who is this Kate Taylor?'

 


"There was a partnership with a charity who asked us to come out to Ethiopia to document what they were doing. It was twenty-five years after Live Aid, and I was twenty-five at the time. A friend was running a small production company and we went out there together - just as the first breed of DSLR’s video camera had hit the market. We'd alternate between shooting, scripting and sound-recording."

It's clear from this casual tale that Ehsan is the best kind of opportunist - an intrepid, hard-working fellow with a determination to learn and a habit of being in the right place at the right time.



Working at a TV production company exposed Ehsan to the pitching process and he helped write treatment ideas for TV shows specifically ‘multi-platform’ documentaries.

In the meantime, he took on anything that came his way, including corporate films and music videos that other directors turned down because the budgets were too small. He recognised that each one was an opportunity to learn and it didn't really matter to him whether or not they earned him any money.


There's a lot of 'things' in my work and I'm desperate to get human connections in there.

 


Like many of the younger generation of directors, he has a 360-approach to filmmaking, and found that others turned to him for advice on seeding online work and it was his knowledge of the digital realm which led to an approach from a fashion company who wanted him to help them make films and find an audience for them.

This led to the creation of a company called 'Studio Boulevard' which started off doing "art direction on stills" and it gave Ehsan the chance to start selling himself as a director: "One of the brands we were working with was River Island, so we encouraged them to go from 'behind the scenes' content to full-blown TV and cinema commercials."



He was - to some extent - a victim of his own success: "The move from 'creative director' to 'director' eventually hit a wall... once the budgets became bigger, our clients began to demand directors with a 'name' for their projects." It was time to move on.

Now armed with a vast array of knowledge, Ehsan set out to concentrate on directing and the first job he secured was an interactive film for Louis Vuitton which playfully riffed on a polka dot motif by creating a 'spot the difference' competition for online viewers.



By his own admission, Ehsan is "massively into cars" and he set his sights on combining his passions by targeting projects in this realm.

This led to a commission from Mr Porter which involved two Jaguars racing against each other: "The budget was tiny - like crazy small - but I was happy to take it on. Because it was something that was so natural to me, I wanted to show I could speak that language."


We encouraged them to go from small scale 'behind the scenes' content to full-blown TV and cinema commercials.

 


That film paved the way for cars and Ehsan has been building his experience in that realm ever since. Buoyed by a confidence that he knows what he's doing with both luxury goods and automotive advertising, he's keen to further his knowledge: "Ultimately, for me, directing has always been first and foremost story-telling and I've had a slightly tricky route to that destination because I've worked so much with abstract objects. There's a lot of 'things' in my work and I'm desperate to get human connections in there."



His first contact with Skunk was in Cannes: "Kate and I were basically having a dance-off and I just thought: 'I love this woman, I really wanna work with her'. I knew she was in the industry... but I didn't really know who she was.

"Then I got back to London and I was looking for a new company to rep me and people kept saying 'go see Kate Taylor' and I was like: 'who is this Kate Taylor?' and then the minute I walked into the meeting, and I was 'Oh! you!'

"That kind of instant chemistry is almost the most important thing because everything is so much better when you really want to work with someone."

Their first opportunity to work together arose pretty quickly... before Skunk had even managed to announce their new signing, he was commissioned to make a film for Adidas by Iris Worldwide..



You don't hear enthusiasm about treatments from directors very often but Ehsan relishes the opportunity to pitch his skills. He's helped - he believes - by his background in graphic design because it's "all about visual communication".

But, more than that, it's because he recognises that his next big opportunity is likely to come through the next pitch he's asked to do... or the one after that... or the one after that.

And when it arrives, Ehsan's charisma, charm and confidence in his own ability will ensure that he's ready to make the most of it.

If you'd like to know more about Ehsan B, contact Kate Taylor at Skunk on 020 3176 7720 or via email at kate@skunklondon.com and she'll make the appropriate arrangements.


David Reviews is hand-crafted by Lovely Lenzie Ltd, 7 Seven Sisters, Lenzie, Glasgow, G66 3AW. Editor: Jason Stone. Phone: 0141 776 7766. E-mail: jason@davidreviews.com