David Allain, Writer, Director and Producer has an impressive portfolio of important work spanning from advertising to timely work helping sensitive groups and bringing awareness to greater causes.
From East London MCs to major labels, David started out by directing music videos for SONY, EMI, and UNIVERSAL. In 2011, he worked with acclaimed photographer Rankin to help set up Rankin Film Productions (RFP). This allowed David to work across advertising, narrative filmmaking, TV, and documentary. He was credited as an Exec Producer or Producer on over 25 shorts films, many of which screened on UK TV and in international festivals (including Palm Springs, Tribeca, and the BFI London Film Festival). David was Creative Director of RFP until 2016 when he decided to focus on writing and directing.
This year, we have been honoured to have him as a judge during our Fresh Future awards and he has granted us some time to talk not only about his vast experience and body of work, but also about encouraging young talent to find their voice and carve their own unique path in the art world. Here’s what he had to say.
Fabrik: Hi David and thanks for your time. Would you like to share a little bit more about you?
David Allain: "I’m a Writer, Director and Producer. My work ranges from advertising and music videos, to narrative films and documentaries. I also work regularly with social causes. This has included projects for Australian Marriage Equality, Girl Effect in Rwanda and Malawi (promoting gender equality), Shift.MS (a community for people with multiple sclerosis), and CALM (promoting mental health awareness). I occasionally create artwork for charity auctions, and have made pieces for charities tackling homelessness including Shelter in the UK and Safe Space for Youth (S.P.Y) in the US. In a nutshell, I’m a curious creative who enjoys learning by working on interesting projects."
Fabrik: You have recently participated in the judging panel for Fresh Future awards. How would you describe the experience?
David Allain: "Energising. It’s always exciting and inspiring to see such a spectrum of high calibre work."
Fabrik: Speaking of fresh talent, what are the characteristics and main traits you seek to find in a successful entry?
David Allain: "Originality and voice. Lots of content is derivative of things we’ve seen before and restrictive client briefs can be an obstacle. So, original concepts executed with a compelling voice come as a breath of fresh air.
Original concepts regularly get watered down by people afraid to take risks; and clarity of voice often gets lost when too many people try putting their mark on the work. Loads of great work comes out of collaboration, but teaming up with likeminded people sharing a singular vision is key to helping an idea realise its fullest potential."
"Lots of content is derivative of things we’ve seen before and restrictive client briefs can be an obstacle. So, original concepts executed with a compelling voice come as a breath of fresh air."
Fabrik: Fresh Future Awards are all about surfacing global talent and giving them a platform for artistic expression. What would you like to say to young artists to encourage them to find their voice?
David Allain: "Just that: find your voice. Identify the things that make you and your work different, and use them to stand out from a largely homogeneous crowd. "
Fabrik: Your work features an abundance of branded and short films, but also a vast portfolio of important charity work. How do you approach ‘difficult’ subjects such as MS and mental health through storytelling?
David Allain: "I always craft my work around what I want the audience to feel emotionally. This is informed by a mixture of research and drawing upon personal experiences. Clients often give a steer for the tone they are after, but not always. So even when approaching sensitive subjects, I simply ask, ‘What do I want people to feel?’
For CALM, I wanted viewers to be left contemplating the sobering reality of men feeling unable to say how they feel. For Shift.MS, the client wanted to find ways of delivering their message in comedic ways that left viewers more aware and better equipped to act on what they learned. Whenever making films for social causes, I’ve spoken to people dealing with the reality of what the content highlights.
By speaking to people about their experiences and drawing invaluable insights from the research, it becomes easier to explore a subject with an emotional thread. Speaking and working with people from the relevant community also helps represent the subject with humanity and to depict the community with integrity."
"When approaching sensitive subjects, I simply ask, ‘What do I want people to feel?’ For CALM, I wanted viewers to be left contemplating the sobering reality of men feeling unable to say how they feel."
Fabrik: Any favourite piece of your work that holds a significant importance to you?
David Allain: "I made a short film called ‘Will You Marry Me?’ a while back. It’s the only time I’ve written and directed a film with no client and no brief. I got to make what I wanted, and it was a great representation of who I was as a creative at that point in my career. Out of it came a bunch of great opportunities and relationships with several people I’ve since collaborated with multiple times. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m planning to make a new film soon that’s a ‘pure’ representation of me as a creative now. Watch this space."
Fabrik: Last but not least, is there any piece of advice you’d like to share with young talent that is entering the field right now?
David Allain: "Find your voice, hone your craft, and be open to the unexpected."