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The Directors: Rauri Cantelo


The Mill's Rauri on planning every detail and his chaotic archive

The Directors: Rauri Cantelo

Director. Photographer. Editor. Rauri Cantelo utilises his multi-disciplinary experience to weave compelling visuals that melt the borders between formats. The energetic, tongue in cheek tones within his narratives live alongside a technical capability that come from his familiarity of being behind the camera.

Boasting a borderline-obsession to social media, Rauri is placed at the forefront of popular culture, creating and developing assets that bolster any marketing campaign. His selected highlights include work for FIFA, David Beckham, Asus, Ellesse, Ashnikko, Meridian Dan, IAMDDB, Spotify, JME & Greentea Peng.

Name: Rauri Cantelo

Location: London

Repped by: The Mill

LBB> What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

Rauri> I love it when I receive an open-ended script, something flexible, dare I say… slightly unfinished? Not a ‘can you finish this for us?’, but more a ‘what do you think?’. It makes it feel more like a conversation, a chain of thoughts from the creative/agency rather than a set of strict rules or guidelines to follow. This creative breathing room allows for all manner of great things to happen down the line and I think it’s super important when working as a team.

I’m always looking to see how we can push and pull a creative (within its boundaries of course), to incorporate some sort of non-traditional flourish, something that’s going to make it stand out in the echo chamber that is social media. Mixed formats are very ‘in’ at the minute, and I secretly hope it’s here to stay as it gives me a chance to annoy the entire set whilst I run around juggling a plethora of dusty cameras to get that perfectly distorted, shaky handheld B cam shot.

LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Rauri> I have a bit of a chaotic archive of random bits and bobs I’ve come across over the years that spark my interest, from old cigarette card designs to some mad VHS footage of street racers in 1980’s Tokyo. I find that even the smallest granules of inspiration will at some point down the line prove useful in jumpstarting the synapses.

Every treatment is different, but usually my first port of call after looking through any new script is to scribble down anything and everything that immediately comes to mind, no matter how farfetched or obtuse. From there I’d then delve into some research; Pinterest boards, photo books, magazines, archived posts on IG, Tiktok, etc. I’m quite a visual thinker and this all helps to germinate that that tiny seed of a concept into a much larger overarching direction that I want us to explore for the spot. More often than not at this point, it’s a single shot that I’m hoping to nag the DOP and producer to pull off with zero additional budget - my ‘DIY’ self-shooting background can be to blame here.

LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Rauri> It’s super important to do the legwork when a new project lands in your inbox, regardless of whether you know the brand or not. It can very quickly reveal the core foundations and ethos of a brand, along with any emerging trends or patterns in the market that might be good to tap into, or even avoid. Of course, the overall aim of this is to tune in to the people who’re wanting to say something and the people they’re trying to say it to.

It helps to have an understanding of who you’re having a conversation with, and if you can go as far as understanding their state of mind, their likes and dislikes, then even better.

LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Rauri> This is a tricky one because ultimately, in my experience, not one single person is solely responsible for making something brilliant - it’s the harmony that resonates through a core group of individuals that does this. On my previous projects I’ve leant more towards working with a small, reactive team of likeminded people rather than a sprawling, out of the loop crew with a seemingly endless chain of command. This keeps things tight, and allows for that homogenous relationship between Director, Creative, Producer, DP & Editor to flourish.

It’s also a great excuse to make something mad with your mates - that’s why we’re all here, right?

LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Rauri> I love music videos, the weirder the better. They are the very essence of what excites me about this industry. Yes, they’re stressful, and yes there are MANY aspects of the promo world that need addressing to ensure better opportunities and working environments at all levels. But in there is a foundation that in my experience brings out the very best in people, an honest and mutual work ethic to create the best possible creative outcome in both a short amount of time, and money (don’t get me wrong more budget would be nice though).

Yes, every. Single. One. Is a challenge in some shape or form, but that’s what makes them memorable.

LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Rauri> That you can only wear one hat - being a director is not a mutually exclusive role.

Something I’ve noticed in the younger generation is a complete democratization of skill sets, people sharing hints and tips about all manner of things left, right and center. Whether it’s editing tricks, how to capture a specific type of shot, developing expired film…you name it, it’s out there - and I think it’s stupid to ignore. It’s quickly developing a new breed of multi-faceted creatives and as someone that came into this industry as an editor, and edits 99% of my own projects, I’m here for it.

LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Rauri> I haven’t, but if it’ll stop me trying to recreate every shot in 3D maybe I should?

LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Rauri> Picture this. It’s peak lockdown, Ronaldinho is on house arrest in Brazil, I’m in London, and I’ve somehow got to get him to film himself doing his thing using a 360-degree camera that he, being the world-famous football talent that he is, has almost definitely never touched before in his life.

The solution? Film and act out the entire ad myself from the confines of my flat beforehand, chop up the edit into bitesize chunks and send it over to him and his team with a ‘360-degree camera 101’ tutorial attached.

The result? See for yourself…


LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

Rauri> I think it’s important to remember that at the end of the day you’re being hired to do a job, and ultimately the client has the final say - it’s their brand or image and that must be respected. However, I don’t think this should always go unchallenged, a big part of being the director is to offer constructive questions and feedback at every stage along the way, you and your team are there to bring it to life, create something impactful and to push it to be the best possible version of itself.

The key here is to ensure all parties are on the same page from as early on in the process as possible, there’s a balance to be found with collaborative relationships and every project is different.

LBB> What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Rauri> This is extremely necessary - I think we’re making baby steps with representation and diversification but there’s still a lot of work to be done. The benefits of hiring people from a different cultures and different socio-economic groups are tenfold, not only can you open a door and create opportunity for someone who may have not been able to experience it otherwise, but you also bring a whole new perspective into the creative mix, a whole new way of thinking.

Regarding mentoring, I’ve personally never had a mentor and know how much I could’ve benefitted from one if I did. So yes, I am very open to having a mentee in the future, just need to wait for that imposter syndrome to die down a little bit, I think.

LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time?

Rauri> Bar a few projects here and there, some of my first directorial roles arose during the pandemic so I’m pretty well rehearsed when it comes to remote work and covid protocols on set. I also have a handy little edit setup at home which I can lock myself into for weeks on end so that definitely came in useful when we were confined to the house.

Foxes 'Love Not Loving You’ - shot at home on an iPhone during the first few weeks of the initial covid lockdown)

The pandemic forced us as an industry to think about things in a slightly different way, to really break things apart into their most essential forms - the barebones as it were. Yes, we’re all still striving to create that film we love, but I think the pandemic forced us to think of more creative ways of getting there. It’s added a lot of extra safety precautions to think about, but I also think it’s cut out a lot of the fluff when it comes to creative executions.

LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)?

Rauri> I always try to plan in every minute detail beforehand, but a lot of the organic elements arise during production. My background in editing tends to inform a pretty extensive, almost second by second time-coded script on every job I lead, but even the most precise shot lists will of course fluctuate on the day. The key here is to try and make the script almost modular, have organic elements that can come and go without having a detrimental effect on the rest of the film. Embrace the imperfections.

LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work (e.g. virtual production, interactive storytelling, AI/data-driven visuals etc)?

Rauri> I try to keep super up to date when it comes to new tech and innovations, mainly just out of curiosity but I also love to think about ways to harness these new methods in my own work. At the end of the day as a creative you’re there to sculpt a story in one way or another, and if a new tool comes out that helps you do that in a new and interesting way then why not?

On one of my recent promos for Rose Gray we experimented with loads with LiDAR scanning and the results were otherworldly. It created these insane ethereal landscapes for us to float around and explore - something that I never thought would be possible on a project of that scale.

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The Mill London, Fri, 28 Oct 2022 07:22:00 GMT