MICHAEL RITCHIE, MANAGING DIRECTOR & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AT REVOLVER & WILL O’ROURKE.
Michael Ritchie is both the Managing Director/ Executive Producer and co-owner of Revolver and it’s experimental arm, Will O’Rourke. The entity is Australian based and known for its commitment to produce work that people seem to remember and hopefully like.
As well as being MD at Revolver, you founded Will O’Rourke. What differentiates each project?
It all comes from the same heart and nucleus. However, you could say that Revolver considers things filmically and Will O’Rourke solves issues in every other way. However, they both share a love for crafting and the art of producing.
What do you love about your job?
It’s all subjective, a script is good or bad, a director is right or wrong, the agency producer is happy or sad. As producers, we have to push through these polars and find the most perfect solution we can. Perhaps the fact that there is not right or wrong… It takes enormous amount of energy, belief and passion to support the work – ultimately supporting your directors to be as good as they can… In a completely masochistic way, I think that is what I love about it.
Which recent projects have you particularly enjoyed working on?
We did the ANZ GAYTM’s through our Will O Rourke side of the company, and we happened to win a Grand Prix at Cannes, if anyone cares about it. Beyond that, I have more recently been working on a Baz Luhrmann project for the last four months, that I simply cannot talk about further than saying this.
What was your worst job and what did you learn from it?
When I left school, I was a cleaner for a bit, which is a perfectly fine job, but I wanted to be a record producer. What made it hard was that one of the houses that I cleaned was my parents place, my family home. It was depressing cleaning your little brother’s bedroom as a career. I learnt I didn’t want to clean my little brothers room.
Is there something you hate (or don’t like) about advertising?
I am sick of those of us apologising for doing what we are doing. The fact is the world is so literate in the mechanisms we concoct to engage them that, on the whole, they don’t feel deceived by our craft, they accept that we are making some noise for some brand or product. So, rather than apologising for being involved in advertising, do our audience justice and make engaging, memorable and substantial communication that you are proud of.
In your opinion, what characteristics should a good director have?
A good director (actually also applies to a good producer) is an arbiter of what is good and bad. I think you buy into a good director for their take on the world -in every aspect. They should also be able to tell a great story over a red wine soaked meal.
In percentage terms, what’s more important in advertising, the idea or the execution?
Well… A wonderful idea can be ruined by bad execution and a bad idea is still always going to be a bad idea -so i think the idea is most important but a well executed idea is king.
What is your favorite ad ever? Why?
I am going to get personal and selfish here. My partner at Revolver, Steve Rogers, directed a commercial for James Boags Beer, where you dipped things into the Tasmanian water and it came out “better”. I loved the idea, I loved the execution and it was our first Gold Lion for Revolver. It’s perhaps, still, my favourite ad. Sorry to be flogging our own wares.
What was the biggest challenge in your life as a producer?
I am sure I am not alone in saying the biggest challenge is the rest of my seemingly dysfunctional life. To find a life balance in the most overtly time consuming business on Earth is quite a challenge.
Have you ever been to Berlin?
I have never been to Berlin but David Bowie said this: “Berlin was the first time in my life that I had felt joy and a great feeling of release and healing… So easy to get lost and to find oneself too”. Sorry for the earnest quote, but I love Bowie, so I am sure I am going to love Berlin.