JOHNNIE FRANKEL, PRESIDENT AT RATTLING STICK
After being a tennis coach and working for different production companies (starting at RSA Films in 1991), he started producing for Daniel Kleinman and then co-founded Rattling Stick. “We’ve chased a sunrise with 88 cameras, taken the blitz to Liverpool, raced cheetahs, dropped polar bears from planes, mastered evolution, created a serenading dog, got undressed and retold the story of the three little pigs”, says Rattling Stick’s website.
How did you get started in the industry?
I was an assistant editor at a company called dgw, specialising in cutting commercials, where I met Pauline Hurst, who produced for Chris Hartwill at RSA. Her PA at that time left to return to Australia and Pauline took me on as a trainee PA.
What do you love about your job?
Never a dull moment. No two jobs the same. I’ve been in the industry 30 years and I am still facing new challenges in every production I’m involved with. Brilliant!
What’s the coolest project you’ve been involved in?
“Cool” is an interesting word to choose because it is so subjective. Just go to the East End of London, all those herberts with funny haircuts and very tight jeans think they are cool. And to them they probably are, but not to me. So hard question to answer, but I suppose for me the coolest job would probably be the Johnnie Walker Fish ad we shot quite a while ago in Australia. It was a hugely challenging shoot on the barrier reef with stunt swimmers being dragged through the water on bungee rigs and being pulled out like dolphins. Amazing rigs, stunning locations and fantastic special FX. Considering how long ago it was, it still makes me a little bit proud every time I see it.
(Watch the spot here!)
What was your worst job?
Easy. Olympus commercial with Frank Budgen directing and Naomi Campbell starring. Do I really need to say more! What I learnt from it is that no matter how hard you work sometimes shit just happens.
In percentage terms, what’s more important in advertising, the idea or the execution?
I think the idea. Because no matter how good the execution is, if the idea is shit, the ad will be average at best with an amazing execution. If you have a brilliant idea, you have to work quite hard to fuck it up with the execution. Percentage wise I would go 70 % idea to 30 % execution.
Is there something you don’t like (or hate) about the advertising industry?
Tricky to answer this without pissing someone off. But fuck it. I hate it when we bid to do a job abroad, are told that money will be really tight, work really hard to get the budget down and then, on the shoot, 14 clients and agencies turn up!!!!!
You have recently been to Barrow (Alaska), the northernmost city in America, to shoot a commercial. What was the definitive highlight of your trip?
Shooting a car driving on the frozen Arctic Ocean. How many people can say they’ve done that? I am a lucky man. (Also I didn’t actually see this, but our post production supervisors saw a polar bear wander through the middle of town).
What was the biggest challenge in your life as a producer?
Never saying no.
You used to be a tennis coach. Who is, in your opinion, the greatest tennis player of all time? And who is his equivalent as a director?
Bjorn Borg and Daniel Kleinman.
What do you like about Berlin?
I went to Berlin once for a day to do a meeting at an agency. I absolutely loved it. My grandmother on my father’s side was German and my grandfather was polish, so I feel a certain kinship with this part of the world. It’s not Berlin, but I also had quite a day and night in Munich a couple of years ago, when Chelsea won the Champions League. For my next visit I am hoping I get time to walk around the city a bit and feel its vibe. I am a big fan of walking around cities. I spend a lot of time looking up at buildings because you tend not to do that as you travel from a to b, and sometimes you get surprised by what you see, especially if a bird poos in your eye.