Can you afford not to craft?

By Ruby Derrick | 15 August 2023

Creating more with less, in a fraction of the time, is currently something of a mantra in the advertising industry.  

The issue was discussed at This Way Up, Australian Advertising Festival of Creativity, in a session called Can you afford not to craft?

The session was moderated by Jonathan Kneebone, director of The Glue Society, with a panel featuring Lily Davis, film editor at The Editors, Micah Walker, founder and CCO of Bear Meets Eagle on Fire, Steve Rogers, director at Revolver, and Stevie Ray, senior casting director at McGregor Casting.  

Kneebone started out by asking the the difference that craft can actually make.

Davis said speaking specifically in terms of the editing process, she believes that craft is about the tools that people use instorytelling.  

“It makes all the difference. It's about affording a certain level of finesse and precision. It makes the difference in moving your audience and creating something that lasts and gives you a feeling that lingers,” she said.  

“There is a certain level of interrogation that comes with craft.” 

Walker said, in his world, craft is the way he makes every decision; it's in everything he does.  

“Craft is everything. It's understanding how to write something that fits within a certain framework, how to make decisions that are more imaginative than linear and how to strike the line between rational thinking and distinctive storytelling,” said Walker.  

Ultimately, craft is inseparable from everything that one does, he says.  

For Rogers at Revolver, craft to him is the language people use to make something. 

“There is craft in everything. The better that craft is made, the clearer the story is told, the more eloquently an idea is bought to life and the more appealing it is from an audiences' point of view,” said Rogers.  

“If something is well made, it will engage an audience more.” 

This leads directly on to considering actors and performers, said Ray.  

“If you don’t set aside enough money to get good people to tell stories, then you’re only going to shoot yourself in the foot,” he said.  

If there isn’t enough money, the good actors who are represented by the good agents will simply ignore my brief.” 

On the topic of big budgets, Kneebone questioned the panel if it was money that solved everything and if not, what else then allows for craft to happen? 

For Davis, it isn’t necessarily all about money, but the people as well.  

“That's why you go to an editor as a craftsperson because of their individual flair in what they can bring to a piece,” she said. 

Walker’s thoughts on the topic ‘Is money the answer to everything?’ revolved around the fact that every idea will have a basement, “but they will rarely have ceilings”, he said.  

“I do think it's wrong to make it purely about money. Where you place the importance as a company is up to you and that defines the culture and that shapes the things that you choose to place importance on,” said Walker.  

“You can write a good idea from any amount of money but you can't have every idea for a certain amount of money. 

“You don’t need a lot of money every time to craft something well, but you need to make sure they can make good decisions that can be done well within certain parameters.” 

Roger noted, on seeing scripts from agencies, that he doesn’t think craft is contingent on a budget.  

“It is just the way you make something. The contradiction comes in when you get a script wanting something that has not taken the resources available into account. That’s the discrepancy and that always leads to shit work,” he said.  

“That contraction between budget and idea is difficult to negotiate.”  

The pressures for Ray when being asked to deliver something, he said, is that actors will agree to be in a TV commercial if it is going to remunerate them appropriately. 

“If it's a creative idea, there are certainly ideas that you can create that don’t require the necessity for a great actor; that can be a montage of little scenes or short shots. You can edit around bad performances quite easily,” said Ray. 

But, so many scripts that come across my desk just so frequently require a decent actor and when the money isn’t there, I have to apologise to the director.  

"The acting is the one separate bit that if the idea hinges on a good performance, then you have to apportion a decent amount of money to the actors otherwise the good ones will simply ignore you.”

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus