MARISA CLIFFORD, CO-FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR AT PULSE FILMS (UK)
As Co-founder and Managing Director of Pulse Films, Marisa Clifford has played a vital role in the growth and evolution of Pulse into one of the world’s leading content creation companies. Described by Televisual as a “forward thinking company” that represents “the true meaning of full service 360 production company”, Pulse has won a number of leading industry awards including Grammy’s, BAFTA’s, Sundance, MTV Music Video Awards and D&AD’s across all of its business disciplines.
How did you decide to get into this business?
My mother is/was a huge film buff, so I spent most of my years engrossed in all types of films with her on the sofa. It’s all I ever dreamt of doing, it has always been a huge part of what I love/think about and what inspires me.
I read that Pulse started when you received a grant to shoot two short films. What were they about?
First one was a short film called Zoltan The Great – the story of a washed up human cannonball at a victorian circus and freak show, played by Saeed Jaffrey, who makes his final stunt out into space. Was insanely ambitious for the budget and one hell of a learning curve but super rewarding. The other was much more macabre and called Blaze, based on the true story of a couple of 14 year old girls who killed an old lady and burnt her as a guy on Guy Fawkes Night.
What do you love about your job?
The people/the variety/the directors and, essentially, the piece of film at the end of every experience which is always the reminder of why you work this damn hard: because at the end of it, you have something you are truly proud of.
What’s the coolest project you’ve been involved in?
Oh, there have been a few… but shooting the final ever gig for LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden in NYC for our feature doc Shut up and play the hits was pretty epic on the ‘cool’ stakes. Our film about Nick Cave, 20,000 days on earth, which is soon to hit the screens, is also pretty extraordinary and he is one super cool guy.
What was your worst job and what did you learn from it?
I shall not say in case the wrong person reads this, but I shall say I did learn a lot from it!
For some years now, there seems to have been a revival of music videos and documentaries. How did the industry change lately?
Not sure I would say there has been a revival as such, but music has always been at the heart of what we do at Pulse. We started in music and it’s a huge part of our heritage, whether it’s music videos, music content, live music and music documentaries. I am not sure whether it’s a revival of late, but more just some really fantastic music docs have unearthed over the last few years and I hope we have played an important part in that.
What’s the most common problem you come across when dealing with musicians?
Not turning up to the shoot/the meeting and certainly not turning up on time. I have had runners to get musicians out of bed for shoots on a few occasions…
What was your biggest challenge in your life as a producer?
Wow, so many. First one I can think of is a few years back, we pitched a TV show in the States and won it out of nowhere. At this time, we only had a UK company, so we had about 3 days to set up a us company (all the bank accounts and insurance), fly to America, find an office, set it up and crew up the show… All in three days, only for it all to suddenly not happen. That was pretty intense. But I made a hell of a lot of contacts in three days! Nothing like interviewing 15 people in 1 day on insane jet lag.
What is your favorite videoclip ever? Why?
Prodigy – “Smack my bitch up”. Because it’s the best music video ever made.
Have you ever been to Berlin?
Love Berlin. Been on a few occasions and most recently for the film festival for our Nick Cave film, which was in competition. Looking forward to returning!