Today we’re ready to round out our #krock_interview collection with a new article. We had an interview with Oliver Lawer who is an Owner, Creative Director at Curveball Media, Animation & Film.
We help brands tell their story, in a way that’s worth watching.
Since 2012, they’ve helped hundreds of brands, marketers, and thought leaders to put their marketing in motion.
Among their clients are Volvo, O2, NHS, RIBA, St. James Palace, Heathrow, IWF, The Open University, UEA, and SAGA. They’ve participated in CIPR Excellence Awards and Telly Awards and won in multiple categories.
This year the company turned 10 and it is planning to open new projects ahead.
We’re 10. What a crazy decade. As part of our celebrations, here is our new showreel. Pulling together our work like this really brings into focus how utterly incredible my team is. It’s sickly sweet, but I’m insanely proud of them.” — Oliver’s LinkedIn.
— Tell us about yourself and your career. How you founded or joined Curveball Media?
Well, it was not the usual route I can tell you that. One night 10 years ago, I had a dream where I was filming weddings. The dream stayed with me. In fact, so much so that I did what any sane person would have done and shelled out for an expensive camera I did not know how to use and proceeded to teach myself the basics of filmmaking. I soon realised that my strength was not so much in weddings, but rather in helping businesses to communicate their propositions. And so Curveball was born — creating explainer videos that clicked with our client’s audience.
— What does your job mainly consist of? Which work processes take you more time and which do you like the most?
As Creative Director, my job is to make sure whatever we’re communicating clicks with our client’s target audience. I love working through the messaging with clients and watching everything come together through the creative process.
— What is your hiring policy at your company? What characteristics or competencies should these people have to work for your company?
We hire more based on attitude and cultural fit than skills. Skills can be taught, but cultural fit cannot. It also has to be someone who really lives and breathes what they do. In short, we want to pay people to do what they love — that’s the win-win scenario.
— Whom does your team mostly consist of, and how do you retain your employees?
Each team member has their own discipline. From writers, illustrators, and animators, to sound engineers and our steadfast studio manager. Culture is very important to us, so the team regularly gets together for a game night. We also work on a basis of a 6-hour day. This keeps everyone fresh and brimming with creativity.
— How do you manage the working process? What are the secrets of managing creative people to deliver projects on time?
On Filestage, we can capture feedback exactly and precisely across all stakeholders. Toggl ensures we’re hitting all the project milestones on time. We have a very solid 6-8 week process, so our clients always know exactly when they’ll receive creative from us and when we need their feedback.
— Tell us about your first experience and in which field you started before coming to media production.
I was a bank manager for many years and then went on to work for a Council as a Strategy and Development Officer tasked with reducing homelessness. Everything I learned about film and animation I did off my own back by researching and watching hundreds of videos that inspired me. I’d pull apart each one and try and figure out what made them great. Our very first project was with a tech company called Blue Butterfly. We produced the animation in a week and it was shown at a local event. Our process now takes 6-8 weeks, so looking back it was incredibly ambitious. However, after the event, we had several inquiries and before we knew it, we found ourselves in high demand.
— What’s your first real business experience? How do you think this experience helped you in your business processes?
I’d say my first proper business experience was when I worked for a bank. They were very hot on process and it taught me a lot about how important it is for making a project successful. Since the start, we’ve had a rock-solid creative process and that has only evolved and become more refined over the years. And a great process means we can focus on creative output.
— What drives you in business or in your personal life?
Curiosity and making an impact. I love understanding messaging and how it can best be delivered. I also love exploring — yes in business, like new techniques and technologies, but also in my personal life. I’m often found studying a map and looking for rivers I have yet to paddle board on. There’s nothing like finding a spot which hardly anyone has attempted paddling before and problem-solving my way down the river, over trees, and through weirs.
— How do the ideas come? What are your rituals or habits?
I meditate every day. This really helps me stay focussed on what’s important. I also bring mindfulness practice into my everyday life too. The best creative moments I’ve had are when my mind is still and uncluttered.
— How much time do you spend working, and how do you spend the rest of your time? Do you manage to maintain a balance between work and life?
Well, funnily enough, we introduced a 6-hour working day several years back. We were worried at first that it may have an impact on our ability to deliver to clients. However, the opposite became true. We seemed to have more vigour in our creative discussions and solving creative challenges became much easier with a fresh mind.
— How not to burn out? What kind of rest do you think creatives will definitely help?
Our 6-hour working day certainly helps, but also immersing myself in nature and other creative ventures keep me grounded, relaxed, and refreshed. Of course, there are always those times when the demands of the job reach heights where I have to just knuckle down and work, work, work. Thankfully, they are few and far between.
— What are your plans for the future?
I’ve also been fascinated by the interplay between video and technology, and a few recent developments in the field of tech have opened up some interesting opportunities. We want to explore how we can make videos much more interactive for our clients and much more personal for their audiences. This is where I see our industry heading.
Follow Oliver’s LinkedIn to find some updates in his feed.
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