New Talent: Lucie Beecham & Lisa Turnbull
Lucie and Lisa’s paths to filmmaking were pretty different – Lucie started out as an Art Director for her sister’s fashion business before landing on directing, while Lisa had always known she wanted to be a producer. But when a recommendation from a mutual friend saw the pair working together on Charlotte Simone’s hilarious Gangsta Rap ad (the Charlotte Simone brand is actually owned by Lucie’s sister), a dream team was born. Their commercial work, including spots for Rogues and Rosie Fortescue, in addition to that Charlotte Simone ad, oozes with an energy that pays testament to the fun the women have working – and playing – together.
LBB’s Jeannie Corfield caught up with them to find out more.
[Pictured left to right: Lisa Turnbull & Lucie Beecham]
LBB> Where did you grow up and what kind of kids were you? Did you always want to work in film? And Lucie, how did you land on directing?
LUCIE> I grew up in London. I started working at a documentary production house as a researcher. During that time I was art directing shoots for Charlotte Simone in my free time. I wanted to expand on that experience and try to get more of a handle on storytelling. So I started to film my ideas. My first shoot was a mix of live action and animation. I turned my models into modern-day Powerpuff Girl heroes… I loved watching the vision come to life and I was hooked from that moment onwards.
LISA> I am from a small village in Essex. I loved film from a very young age and my tastes were always a bit more eclectic than many of my friends. I specifically loved film noir, thrillers and drama. I always knew I wanted to be a producer. I was a little bit geeky at school - at A Level I was the only student in my media class for the whole year; Mr Morris and I got along swimmingly.
LBB> Lisa, you’ve worked your way up from being a receptionist at ENVY to being a production manager at Biscuit Filmworks, as well as producing for Lucie. What was it about producing that particularly appealed to you?
LISA> Yes, my first job in the industry was at Envy Post as a receptionist, but I always wanted to work in production. I was really excited to get the job at Biscuit and they’ve been very supportive of my desire to work on any jobs and even outside briefs I am interested in. I like being excited by an idea and thinking, “right, how can we make this work?” based on the realities of money, timing etc. Like I said, I was a bit geeky and those sorts of problems really excite me.
LBB> Do you think you need to have a certain kind of personality to handle producing?
LISA> I think the obvious qualities come to mind: organisation, multi-tasking etc., but I think the most important thing is to be level headed.
Someone told me that often, the people who shout the loudest have the least control. That insecurity can ripple through a set quickly. I’ve seen it happen. People need to be able to approach you about a problem and know that you are the person that can help them solve it.
LBB> How did the two of you start working together?
LISA> We met through a wonderful mutual friend of ours, director Ish Sahotay, who unfortunately passed away last year. Lucie was looking for a producer for her ‘Grannies’ idea for Charlotte Simone and asked Ish. I had been production manager on a couple of Ish’s music videos and worked with him on a day-to-day basis at Biscuit and so he recommended me. We met over some margaritas and hot dogs and the rest is history.
LBB> And what do you enjoy about working together?
Both> Fresh ideas, energy and passion!
LBB> Breaking into commercial & music video production, whether as a director or a producer, how do you go about finding projects? What advice would you give aspiring directors or producers who are, say, still at film school who want to get their foot in the door?
LUCIE> You have to put yourself and your work out there. There is no shame in reaching out to people who you admire and who you would love to work with. Neither of us went to film school. You just have to get involved, be enthusiastic and don’t wait around for an opportunity. Go and get it.
LBB> We really enjoyed watching the gangsta rap ad you made together for Charlotte Simone, and it looks like the ladies enjoyed themselves too. Was it fun to shoot? What sort of influences did you draw from and how did you work with the actresses to get such attitude-filled performances?
LUCIE> It was great to shoot and a thrill to cast the right kind of grannies. We ended up finding the best actresses to play the roles, they were thrilled to be playing women with sass and just shone on set.
The video was inspired by the hip hop legends of the ‘90s and our grannies parodied the typical rap video with a traditional old English twist.
LBB> Lucie, how is it working with your sister and having her as a ‘client’ (with Charlotte Simone)? I imagine that would certainly spice up the dynamic!
LUCIE> It’s a dream combo. I’ve been there since she started the business so I really get her brand. Charlotte also gives me a lot of creative freedom so it’s so much fun to work on.
LBB> Lucie, both you and your sister have ended up in creative industries – is this something that your family encouraged?
LUCIE> My parents encouraged me to follow my passion on the basis that if I did something I enjoyed, I would be more likely to succeed.
LBB> We love the Double Dutch film for Rogues – how did you land upon the skipping concept? And in terms of the visuals and the art direction, the combination of the steely grey of the hall and the tough attitude of the girls with the almost bubblegum pops of colour from the shoes feels really fresh. Why did you want to combine these fairly different vibes and who did you work with on the styling?
LUCIE> The brief was to make something quirky, unconventional and tongue-in-cheek. I was driven by the shoes’ unique style and colour whilst also combining the practicality of actually wearing the shoes. Rogues are flat and smart but they also can’t help being the statement piece of your outfit. Therefore, I wanted to create a playful take on fancy footwork. So I decided to take Double Dutch from a playground game and transform it into something intense, sassy and slightly rebellious.
I had such a specific idea for the location initially, I was looking for a school gym that was monochrome in style as I wanted the shoes to really pop. Instead we decided to go down a bit of a different route – to construct the gym ourselves in a harder environment and build on the art department and different lighting techniques.
LBB> You’ve worked on quite a few fashion film projects – is fashion important to you outside of your work?
LUCIE> I definitely appreciate fashion and seek a lot of inspiration from editorials throughout history. It’s an art in itself. It takes so many creative forms and pushes them into one industry, and I feel like there is so much opportunity and freedom there to create something out of the ordinary.
LBB> And Lisa, fashion films are often about the styling and the overall ‘look’, often not on a terribly high budget! As a producer, how do you balance making the director’s vision happen while working within these sorts of restraints?
LISA> Small budgets are, of course, a challenge, but that’s what makes them so rewarding to produce. Knowing that your budget is small and seeing how great it looks at the end is the most satisfying feeling, because you know you couldn’t have got there without each of the people who worked hard and believed in the project.
LBB> Would you say that you have a distinct style when you work together? How do your individual projects differ from your work as a duo?
LUCIE> It’s hard to say if we have a style as all the brands we have worked with have had such different briefs. We like to be as creative as we can though.
LISA> The things I work on separately see me take a completely different role. I do a lot of writing. Who knows, maybe Lucie can direct one of MY scripts one day!
LBB> Lucie, your promo video for Ocean Wisdom features hand drawn 2D animation superimposed over live action – why was this the best approach?
LUCIE> I teamed up with my friend Craig Dolan who has a distinct hand drawn 2D animation style. I thought it would work alongside the gritty black and white live action as a great way to blend Ocean’s grime style with visuals of a child-like game that provokes childhood nostalgia.
LBB> What sort of projects are you keen to get stuck into? Any brands in particular or bands that you would just love to shoot commercials or promos for?
LUCIE> I would love to direct some more rap videos. I feel like there are so many talented rappers in the UK right now! I also want to get stuck into directing more fashion films - the dream would be to do a Chanel film. Karl Lagerfeld is always doing something completely fresh and something that has never been done before; the creativity in his runway shows is so ahead of everyone else’s. And Guinness, they really set the standard. They are masterpieces and so heart-warming. And Nike because their ads lead the way in inspirational, challenging stories.
LBB> What do you get up to when you’re not working? What inspires you and how do you recharge your creative batteries?
LUCIE> Gigs, the cinema and food - on a Saturday night you are likely to find me at a Food Festival. I love my Super 8 camera. I am always shooting shorts just for fun, or simply because I’ve been inspired by something.
LISA> I love spending time at the BFI or the Barbican.
LBB> Do you hang out outside of work or is it a strictly professional relationship?
BOTH> Always! It’s becoming a problem haha. In all seriousness, work is play for us…
LBB> What does the rest of 2016 hold for you?
BOTH> Who knows? But it’s gonna be GREAT!