New Talent: Harry Davidson
If you’re new to the industry, you can be guaranteed a steep learning curve – but perhaps the steepest you can face is when you’re thrust into a company that’s pretty new itself. After all, you’re not only honing your own skills but watching a business come to fruition from within. Harry Davidson was one of the first to join production group Mad Ruffian – and three years later they’re an award-winning production and post company with an unconventional approach. Harry has carved out a niche as a hybrid editor and VFX artist (although, he says, editing will always be his ‘first love’) and has worked on projects as diverse as the highly commended Darwin Deez video ‘Kill Your Attitude’ and a documentary for Singaporean TV.
LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with Harry to find out more.
LBB> You were one of the first Mad Ruffians - how would you describe the culture within the company?
HD> It’s great! We’re a tight-knit operation and we’re often all working in the same room so every discussion is heard by everyone. Whether it’s discussions about tiny details or decisions being debated on bigger issues, thoughts are thrown across the room like they would be at a family dinner table, so that’s a lot of fun to be involved with.
It was great to get involved with a company that was kicking off when I was just starting out.
LBB> Where did you hone your craft? How did you wind up in advertising?
HD> Well I’m definitely still in the process of honing my craft. I’ve been working for Mad Ruffian and their post division, Ruffian Post, as a freelancer for nearly three years now, so an awful lot of what I know has been learned with them, particularly with VFX. A wide range of work comes through the door and each job brings new challenges and new things to wrap your head around, which is great!
Advertising work is and probably will continue to be most responsible for paying my rent, which is important, so that’s the number one reason for that, ha!
LBB> Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
HD> At each point in my life where I’ve had to stop and think what direction I want to head in – whether it was with my education or my career – I’ve always been drawn towards filmmaking. Then at some point during my degree, I worked out that editing was what I was interested in most.
VFX really started to become a thing for me when I joined Mad Ruffian, and that’s been great. I’d previously been a little wary of getting into VFX. It was a rabbit-hole I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to get lost in… but the more I get into it, the more I’m loving it.
LBB> Where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you?
HD> I grew up in a village in Kent called Selling, near Canterbury. I think I was a pretty sensible, easy-to-manage kid. I was an interested-in-everything type, into a lot of sports, art and music. I’m indebted to my mum for driving me around to all the things I was getting up to.
LBB> You’re both an editor and VFX artist - is there a skill you prefer exploring? And do you tend to work on both the VFX and editing of a project or just one?
HD> With Mad Ruffian / Ruffian Post, we tend to see projects through the whole of the post-production so yes, often I’m editing then working as a VFX artist on projects. Doing all that allows us to be a little bit more fluid with our workflow, which can open up time to be more creative with things.
Editing came first for me and so that is probably still my number one. I suppose editing demands you bring everything you have to it – your world-view, your emotions… all of that – so I think that makes it a little more appealing to me.
LBB> In addition to your work with Mad Ruffian, in 2015 you edited an hour-long documentary for Singaporean TV - what inspired you to do that?
HD> Documentary filmmaking incorporates everything I love about editing. It can be so vast and there’s a chance to have a greater sense of authorship as an editor. So when I had the chance to edit this doc, it was a bit of a no-brainer.
LBB> How was the experience for you? How was it working within a different culture?
HD> It was amazing. It was shot over a year or so and I was initially working on it in the evenings outside of Ruffian hours. Then I spent the last two months before our deadline working on it exclusively. It was pretty consuming. You commit so much of yourself to the edit when you get that deep into it. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be involved in a project that runs over years or even decades.
LBB> What did you learn from the experience?
HD> So much. It was the longest running project I’ve been involved in, in terms of time of production and final running time, so everything that came with that was really interesting and demanding.
LBB> Which other pieces of work are you most proud of and why?
HD> We did the post for a Darwin Deez music video, “Kill Your Attitude" that ended up getting Ruffian Post nominated for Best Visual Effects at the UKMVAs last year. That was another all-consuming, 12-hour-plus days, 7-days-a-week type job that we were working on for around six weeks so it’s great that it went on to get a bunch of recognition.
LBB> What do you get up to outside of work?
Ha, I’ve always got a bunch projects on the go outside of work so most of my free time is spent either working on them or feeling guilty that I’m not working on them.