When Covid-19 hit, production (even more than most) was brought down to its knees and forced to adapt or die. Be it with a pivot to remote filming or animation, there was a strong push towards new and fresh ways to do production – and companies such as Threefold Films were caught in the storm.
Founders Tom and Graham are always striving to do things differently, even when clients don't seem to want to risk it. And so Threefold Films pulled up its sleeves, reworked its scope a bit, and pushed through this challenging Covid crisis by even winning a TVC pitch with one of their favourite agencies. That is resilience. And it all comes from their holistic view of creativity, with different arts and crafts influencing each other in various ways.
For this Company Spotlight we are learning more about how the folks at Threefold Films look at all the other arts to fuel inspiration, as well as the amazing story of the company and how it came to be.
How was your company born and where are you based?
Threefold was born when Graham and I met sharing deskspace in what is now our office. At the time we were freelancing, working on all sorts of different things, documentary, animation, photography, graphics & web design. It sort of clicked that combining our showreels and skillsets would allow us to work on bigger projects.
What was the biggest challenge to the growth of your company?
I think sometimes it’s easy for clients to kind of typecast you in terms of the types of projects you do. So they will often come back to you for projects similar to the ones you’ve done before. They don’t necessarily consider you for something different. It can be hard to break out of that.
Which was the first huge success that you can remember?
There’s a lot of different ways we deem a project successful. Sometimes it’s the number of views it got, sometimes it’s how great an experience the shoot was, or how profitable that job was. Or it might be that one shot you got which you completely love.
We did a project for Lynx deodorant some years back which was supposed to be a straightforward event film. But we shot it more like a TVC or a promo, and turned it around incredibly quickly, especially given it was shot on 2 of the first RED Dragon cameras in the country. I think it put us into a different place in the clients' minds.
Another was an amazing trip to Norway where we documented the story of King Crab for a restaurant brand. It was one of the few projects we get where the clients truly gave us a lot of creative control, pretty much left us to do our thing. We’ve always been really happy with the look and feel of that one.
What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your company in the next year?
During lockdown we pitched and won a TVC with one of our favourite agencies. Hoping to shoot early next year as long as COVID-19 doesn’t intervene too much! Also I think that because we’ve always worked in very tight teams and to tighter budgets, COVID restrictions don’t affect the way we work as much as it might affect some of the larger production companies, so hopefully we can weather whatever changes get flung our way.
Can you explain your team’s creative process?
Our creative process completely depends on the projects. Sometimes we are brought in as more traditional directors, so we concept and storyboard an idea from the beginning and take it to completion. Other times the agency or company already has a concept in mind and we steer that concept creatively and make it work within the constraints of the shoot and budget. We also partner with creative directors and Art Directors who will have a very clear idea about the look and feel and we are there to direct and capture the right content within that framework. When we get a new project we spend time discussing how we might approach it, often while we’re also working on something else. We’ve been working together long enough now that we don’t need to spend too much time finding visual reference for each other. We usually know what each of us are getting at. I tend to lean towards the visual side of things, Graham focuses more on how the edit will look and the practicality of the shoot. At all times though our main aim is to make whatever we shoot look as good as possible whatever the budget.
How does your team remain inspired and motivated?
We’re lucky at Threefold to work on a wide variety of projects and in many ways it’s the variety which keeps us motivated. You never know where the next project will take you, what unique challenges each one will present. If you’re not doing the same thing day in day out, it’s harder to get tired with it.
How has COVID-19 affected your company?
For us, live shoots have reduced dramatically, we’ve pivoted to doing more post production and animation based work for the time being, but we’re missing being out shooting regularly. We have relatively low overheads, our teams draw from a pool of freelancers who we’ve worked with closely over the years so we’re able to expand and contract quite effectively in times like these.
Do you have any heroes in the industry?
I think most of my inspiration is drawn from the Photography, design and art worlds more than any particular heroes in the industry. All the creative fields cross over into one another and I love that. I’m in awe of the the work of Kahil Joseph & Phoebe Arnstein at the moment though.
What is one tip that you would give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and if you’re good at what you do and are easy to work with while doing it, you’ll get more work. Get out there, be nice to people, round robin emails don’t get far! (Is that one tip?)
What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?
Right now with COVID my hope is that as much of the industry can keep going as possible as we piece our way through the pandemic. The creative sector often gets hit quite hard at times like these.
Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
Not really, the internet is obviously an incredible resource but I’d say instead of following guides on the web or Youtube, there’s a lot more to learn from just trying things yourself first with whatever you have to hand, it’s more fun. We’re so lucky to have so much Technology available to us which we can experiment with so cheaply!