Creative Insights: Jack Nimble's Hayley Olsson on the 'why?'

By Ruby Derrick | 3 November 2023

Creative Insights is an AdNews series investigating and uncovering the secrets of the creative side of advertising. 

Hayley Olsson: head of production at Jack Nimble

How did you fall into the industry? Was it deliberate or a misstep?

I didn't so much as fall but rather dove in head first. 

I was studying media at Macquarie Uni and playing for the uni water polo team. My coach at the time, Anthony MacFarlane, was looking for eager production assistants to help him at his production company — the creators of the legendary series, Beached Az. 

I was hooked and sunk right into the industry, landing a beautiful role with the ABC working on a multi-part series on the Sydney Opera House. For that particular role, I interviewed for a senior producer position — which I was vastly underqualified for — but I think they liked my attempt and created a production assistant role for me. 

What’s your secret sauce for commercial creativity?

Asking ‘why?’ (or perhaps ‘how did you get there?’) 

I love to understand how people's brains think or what they are trying to achieve. It’s served me really well in the past to start by asking why, or ‘what’s your end goal?’ so I can better understand their vision.

When a DP asks for a certain piece of gear or additional crew member, it makes sense to understand what they’ll get out of it. We have often found a better/faster/more cost-effective alternative that gets the job done faster, while still understanding each other’s end goal. 

A risk you run as a producer is succumbing to the pressures of time and budget pressures by sticking only to what you know. It’s important to avoid sticking to templated methods and not just defaulting to saying ‘no’. Some of my most loved pieces of content that I’ve worked on have been when we’ve created new templates, new pieces of gear (i.e. shitty rigs), and experimented with new editing styles. 

What’s the biggest hurdle now for creatives?

Creating for every platform and spec in the universe. It's hard to find one idea to rule them all — being multi-minded is harrdddd.

Do you wear the black t-shirt uniform or are you a nonconformist?

My slick bun is my black t-shirt.

Can commercial creativity only take place in a room full of people in black T-shirts?

I'd like to see what would come out of that room, but I wholeheartedly believe that the best product comes from the many voices of a well-rounded team. That said, I do believe there can be too many voices in a room. There is something to be said for trusting the team that has been assembled and not stepping in, steamrolling, or diluting their message and vision. Having an opinion for opinion's sake is one of my pet peeves. 

What was the latest campaign that you worked on that you really enjoyed?

Oh my goodness, I love this question! (cue TikTok sound)

I love working on ideas that involve tricky VFX or ‘in-camera’ magic. We worked with eBay earlier this year on their car parts and accessories offering where we literally rolled a tyre off a phone screen and flicked it onto a car. We did it with a team of five legends on the shoot day and the result was bonkers and cool!

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