Dubai Lynx 2016: Shots interviews Jury Craft President Laura Gregory

Feb 26 2016


Laura Gregory; Founder and executive producer, Great Guns London; discusses her role at this year's Lynx Awards. Joe Lancaster talks to Film Craft president; Laura Gregory.

What attracted you to the role of jury president for Dubai Lynx and what’s your impression of MENA advertising?

I was invited to speak last year, which was my first year at Dubai Lynx. The attendees were keen to network, attend all seminars, and share their work with the world. It’s a fast-growing festival and I can see it becoming one of the key global festivals in the future.

What’s your approach to presiding over a jury of your peers?

Usually the jury will meet for the first time on the first morning the jury sits. We discuss the overall role of the jury and the outcome we’re aiming for. The juries I have led and served on have always had personalities, some large and some quiet, but all have a background of outstanding achievements which define the reason they have a seat on the jury.

It’s a given that they will have valuable insights, feelings and emotions to share. The best work always rises to the top and little is missed. Sometimes it takes an impassioned speech to revisit a decision, but that’s the fun of a strong jury. Some are so impassioned it takes your breath away.

The best juries are where we have a unanimous decision and find a gem that could have gone unrecognised. I have never left a single jury without feeling empowered and enriched by the intense time I have spent in a dark room with my peers.

What will you be looking for in the work?

Greatness in every aspect.

Last year there was no Grand Prix awarded in Film Craft and only two campaigns won gold. Is it healthy for juries to withhold top honours?

No award is given, it is earned.

You recently signed a brilliant Cairo-based director, Omar Hilal. What do you think of MENA filmmaking talent in general and how can it be developed?

The local talent is developing fast but there are still only two major talents in my mind who can work in any market in the world: Omar and Ali Ali. Their work is of a standard that is as good as any director anywhere in the world. We need to see more local directors coming through.

Perhaps the volume of good content work makes this a slow process. Some of the more interesting directors come from the agency creative side too, like Omar and Ali Ali. I don’t think that’s a surprise – when they work with so many international directors, they learn fast and lower budgets give them a chance to direct.

Do you think it takes a local director to capture the right feel for a film?

Not at all. Performance is performance the world round, an idea is an idea, and sometimes a non-local director sees things in another location that the local director might take for granted. Did Richard Attenborough need to be a local to direct Gandhi, or Danny Boyle to direct Slumdog Millionaire, or Bertolucci to direct Last Emperor?

How much impact does budget have in this category? Can a low-budget film compete with an expensive one?

Budget has no impact at all.

Do you have any pet hates regarding ad award shows?

The gong dinners are always too long and the winning work is shown on a bad screen/sound system and everyone’s talking and eating and couldn’t care less. Put the money into a cracking party and website and VR tour of the best work? I don’t know what the answer is.

What else will you do during your stay in Dubai?

When I leave the darkness of the jury room, I’ll sleep and enjoy Dubai’s best restaurants. My top tip is Qbara.

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