MAKER LONDON – THE STORY SO FAR

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It’s December 2014. Agencies and facilities are working late into the night, slaving over the tail end of the festive campaigns while employees are frog-marched into bars for their annual evening of Russian Roulette, mixing company politics with free booze.

It’s a Thursday evening and I’m having a clandestine meeting with the two founding Partners of Maker, Thea and Nick. We’re at Vinoteca on Beak Street, just round the corner from my job at Golden Square, and I’m recklessly sat in the window.

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After 10 years of crafting glorious branded and commercial content in Manchester, for Maker, London was indeed calling. However, London didn’t fully appreciate this as yet and needed someone to give her a bit of a nudge.

(Side note – there are many covers of London Calling, but this has to be the best.)

 

As we talk I’m gesticulating with my fork, attempting to be engaging. The risotto is a bit under-cooked, in keeping with many of the theories I’m spouting as I wax lyrical about the London advertising scene.

Surely agencies and clients alike would welcome a fresh production approach with open arms – one with a reach across both London and Manchester, with talented directors and creativity at its core.

If I was to take the helm of this exciting new expansion, my first priorities would be to establish a base in the Big Smoke and help develop our roster of directors – would that be a problem? “Why, no,” I blithely replied, subtly showing-off the Red Wine Teeth Look I had carefully cultivated across the evening. (Cue Stevie). “You see I’m a bit of a rare thing,” I modestly continued, “born and bred in London and I’m still here – with my Extensive Local Knowledge what could possibly go wrong?”

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The following morning I wrote my letter of resignation and two months later the good ship Maker London has cast off with a couple of projects under her belt and great promise on the horizon – but how has my Extensive Local Knowledge aided me in my quest for the perfect location?

The logistical and budgetary requirements have, of course, been paramount. Here the research proved surprisingly fruitful – various possibilities through friends, acquaintances and online. So, a good start.

However, a different question generated greater food for thought. With London’s wide ranging boroughs and their corresponding reputations there are plenty of connotations about your home’s postcode – but what about your company’s?

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For the past few years my life has been a heady mix of Scorn and Envy but since cutting my teeth on Newman Street at the turn of the century (grandiose – me?) I’ve worked across the city. There’s been many an evening spent in a Soho post suite; a W10 bolt-hole Under the West Way with Damon and Co. on the floor above; a Millbank office overlooking the Thames watching the Duck Bus dice with death; inhaling the Fumes of Progress from the Old Street Roundabout; studio stints at Teddington and Wapping…

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Welcome to London…

When I compared these locations from a production point of view they felt remarkably similar: office plus meeting room – mainly differentiated by the people in them and the view from them; facilities for in-house creative / post; a tube station nearby. Throw in a kettle and somewhere selling post-work drinks and it’s tick, tick and tick again.

Does the explosion in communication and technology really mean that London can be one huge production playground – or is it still Location, Location, Location?

For example, take the obvious contenders Soho / Noho and Shoreditch.

W1 and its neighbour on the North side of Oxford Street – the production company tried and true. You might pay a little more for the space but you’re surrounded by facilities and agencies and the best transport that TfL can muster. But does Old School become Old Hat when compared to E1, the hip upstart of the past decade or so? The shift of creative companies out East. The beards. Would Maker London become a self-facilitating media node, turning me into Nathan Barley in the process?

While we focus on developing our directors’ roster, we’re bunking up (conspiratorial whisper – South of the River) in Southwark. If it worked logistically for the Romans, creatively for Shakespeare and This Morning are happy to call it home, then surely we’re in a great place for this stage of Maker London’s development.

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And so I open the floor to you: with Southwark as Maker’s diving board into the London waters, where do you think we should be aiming our reverse triple somersault?