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Spikes Asia Film Jury President Tony Bradbourne on film as a medium, storytelling, and humor

Tony Bradbourne

SINGAPORE –  “If you don’t have budget, you have to have bravery,” says Spikes Asia Film Jury President and Co-Founder and CEO/CCO of Special Tony Bradbourne. Having judged over 300 entries this year, he notes the festival as the one where humor and culture take center stage.

In an exclusive interview with adobo Magazine, Tony talks about attention as currency, brilliant insights trumping huge budgets, and what the industry should adapt in creating effective films.

Film is such a primary category for any awards show and it’s also the first at Spikes when it opened in 1986. What differentiates judging for film at Spikes Asia than other festivals?


Tony: What sets Spikes apart from something like The One Show which is very America, D&AD which is very British, and Cannes, is the real local flavor of humor, cultural insights, and just unexpected work that you haven’t really seen before. It’s very fresh here and it’s really quite amazing.

What observations were you able to make from this year’s entries? Were there trends that stood out?

There’s a couple of interesting points. One is that budget does not always win. There’s a lot of very high budget work and often in many categories, it got slightly pipped by work that just had a slightly more unexpected idea. Bravery counts, being audacious counts, and just coming out with an idea that doesn’t necessarily rely on having huge budget, huge celebrities, huge landscapes. You can triumph at Spikes with just a brilliant, simple idea.

If you don’t have budget, you have to have bravery because if you play it safe and you’ve got no budget, you’re just creating wallpaper and the world does not need any more wallpaper. What we really need to do as an industry is create work that plays in culture, referenced in culture, really creates talkability and to do that, you need brave, insightful ideas; you need strategy and creativity coming together. Then in the film category, you need incredible production even in the most simplest of ways.

What are the major influences in film as a medium?

I think film is the best at bringing out emotions like no other category. Whether it’s humor — and I think we’ve seen a real return to that this year, which is great. There has been some standout hilarious pieces of work that even when the jury has watched them over and over and over again, they still can’t stop laughing.

Humor is good. It was something that was spoken a lot about at Cannes last year and I see that they brought a new category around humor at Cannes so that is strong and well.

Emotion, that’s the other thing. It really sets film apart, there’s nothing quite like an amazing piece of film to either make you laugh or cry or feel something deep inside and that will always be the case with film.

Attention retention remains to be a challenge for film with younger audiences going for the shorter format, how can you reconcile that with the need for effective storytelling?

You can be forgotten in five seconds or you can be forgotten in five minutes. Shorter does not mean better.

You need to grab people’s attention. Most of the pieces of work we saw in the film category are still long. In the branded content piece, we were looking at pieces of work that were 10, 15, even 30 minutes long so I think the never ending chase to do smaller bite-sized bits of content, we’re seeing almost the opposite happen in multiple examples of work and indeed in the effectiveness categories as well. It’s not about being shorter, it’s about getting more and more attention.

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