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- Sunday, 16 November 2014 09:33 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
Tesi: Dear Harry, you are the Managing Director of the film production & creative agency “Deckchair Productions” based in London / UK. Can you please tell me about your daily work and your company?
Harry: Yes. Deckchair was named after a now infamous school report which once described my efforts as being ‘as laid back as a deckchair!.’ I had been writing and making films since childhood and always knew I’d apply myself at some point, just not in maths or Latin! So I would always do the exact minimum required. Even at University in my first year - it was a foundation course that didn’t count towards your final results and so only a pass at 40% was required - I skilfully achieved 41%, allowing me the time to start the company! This year, November 2014, Deckchair will be ten years old.
In 2004, Deckchair began as a professional platform for my plays and films whilst still a student at UCL. We produced lots of theatre, both West-End and fringe, including a new-writing festival, and various short films. In summer of 2005 I travelled to Italy to research a play about Michelangelo and ended up living and working there at the Vatican. I returned a year later to make the feature film ‘La Bella Figura.’ It took me three years to complete, in which time I had been working as a creative consultant for BUPA, managing all variety of digital projects, from websites to presentations and eventually films. One project slowly led to the next, the entirety of which has been via word of mouth.
Deckchair has now produced over 350 corporate and commercial films with prestigious brands and talent all over the world. Moving offices from Hammersmith, to Charlotte St, and then High St Kensington.
As for my daily routine? There’s usually many simultaneous projects at various stages with various teams… from brief, to script writing, to on-set directing, or in the edit suite.
Tesi: So what would say has helped to set Deckchair apart?
Well, the Deckchair ethos remains as a platform to develop and produce original new writing, reinvesting profits into personal work. So generally we can offer a high-end panache from award winning feature film talent, which the usual corporate video production companies can’t deliver. Our recent original work includes ‘Full Time’, from the BAFTA and OSCAR nominated team for The Voorman Problem with Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander.
Films, just like design or food for that matter, is all about taste. Technically, that’s the simple bit. It’s all about delivering style, narrative and performance, no matter the format.
Tesi: Dealing with people from different industries comes always with different challenges and twists. I have seen that you launched films with famous chefs such as Tom Parker-Bowles or TV chef James Martin. Is working with famous people from the culinary world in any way different to other celebrities and if yes what is the difference?
Harry: I wouldn’t say there is much difference once you are a professional. These chefs are very accustomed to being on camera and presenting. So really, they make your life easier by being good. In truth they are personalities and presenters as much as they are chefs.
The real challenge comes when you are working with people unaccustomed to the camera! Either way, as director they are putting their trust in your hands, and it’s up to you to flatter them with the final product as best as you possibly can. The upside of course is getting to share all the food at the end of the shoot. Trust me, it was delicious!
Tesi: People love watching outtakes/bloopers. What’s the funniest mistake you’ve seen when producing a culinary film?
Harry: Oh gosh, hmm, we were filming at Tom Hix’s Tramshed restaurant, Tom Hix was behind the camera as well… Tom Parker-Bowles was presenting, with Damien Hirst’s famous formaldehyde installation of a cow and cock in the background… and rushing into it TPB accidentally introduced the restaurant as ‘The Mecca of Steak Houses.’
Without realising what he’d said, I pulled him up and we re-worded it before a right royal public relations disaster kicked off! Strictly I believe Islam restricts their diet only to pig meat, but still, just one example of the responsibilities of my job! Tom Parker Bowles is an absolutely charming man, and not for one instance would he ever risk accidentally offending anybody. You can see it on our website, on retake we safely called it instead ‘One pf the great steak restaurants of London!’
Tesi: British food is the most underrated cuisine in Europe: True or false?
Harry: True! London and the restaurant industry attracts the finest the world has to offer… ‘what is British?’ Is the issue of the question!
Regionally, parts of the UK have fantastic local produce and culinary culture, such as in Shropshire where I have spent time. However, it does frustrate me, having lived in Italy – that our supermarkets are really terrible, and that on the whole our dining and cooking culture in the home is not as socially predominant. It’s those qualities, and street food that gives British food its bad reputation to visitors.
Tesi: If I were to give you a free meal for you and four friends and pay you a flight to any possible country on this planet…but the voucher was only £50, where would you go?
Harry: That’s easy. Italy of course! I don’t think I ever spent more than £50 on Easyjet flight to Rome.
Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Harry: Well, in relation to the question before, I’m definitely about fresh ingredients and simplicity – more the natural, unfussy sentiment of the Italians - in opposition to the high refinement of the French for example. Understatement and quality.
A British film director and writer. I founded Deckchair Productions whilst at UCL, after graduating I worked at the Vatican Museums whilst writing a play about Michelangelo, which became the setting for the feature film 'La Bella Figura' made when I was 23. La Bella Figura toured festivals worldwide and led to Deckchair evolving as a creative production company, producing to date 350 films commercially with major brands and talent worldwide.
Deckchair clients include Ovo Energy, DHL, The Daily Mail and Live Magazine, ITN, CNN, Plan International, Valderrama & the PGA Tour, CAPITA, BUPA,, AGE UK, College of Medicine. The Good Care Group, By the Bridge, Dance World Cup. Nimax Theatres. Pilot ad's for Tiffany & Co & Calvin Klein & others…
Highlights include working with TV stars James Martin, James May, Olly Smith. Actors Sue Johnston, Amanda Burton, Dougray Scott. Sports stars James Haskell, Graeme McDowell. Nobel prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn. Musicians Mark Ronson, Lily Allen, Florence & The Machine, to name a few…
Formats include drama, documentaries, commercials, online films, music videos, corporates, specialist presentations and private commissions.