Great Guns, the international film production company, needs little introduction after 25 years in business. Known for the calibre of creatives on its roster and the quality of work produced, the company also has a reputation for nurturing and supporting talent at every stage of their development.
Laura Gregory, the company’s founder and CEO, recognised how tough the pandemic was on emerging directors whose opportunities had been curtailed by global lockdowns, hindering their development. While Great Guns has always championed emerging directors – the global production team felt it was perhaps time for a different approach. Recognising that post-covid talent would need more support and guidance, they decided to create a creative community of multi-skilled directors that would not only be able to benefit from Great Guns’ established sales and production infrastructure but also from each other, often collaborating together on projects for brands or musicians. Out of this Ballistic was born and Jamie Cox was soon brought onboard as EP to help build and run the Ballistic community.
Sheridan Thomas, EP at Great Guns, comments: “Great Guns has always been known for building emerging talent within its overall roster but, by creating Ballistic, we are doubling down on our commitment to help new and underrepresented filmmakers navigate the industry and use their multiple skill sets to not only build their own careers but help their peers on that journey too. And whilst Ballistic exists as a separate entity under Jamie’s watch, all of its talent will also enjoy the support and expertise of Great Guns as well.”
“The aim is to nurture emerging talent and help them find their feet in the industry,” adds Jamie. “It can be a lonely and difficult life out there for a young director. In providing a community-based support system like Ballistic, we hope to make an emerging director’s journey less daunting”.
Ballistic and Great Guns understand that to capture the attention of audiences in the age of YouTube and TikTok, brands should be enlisting the services of directors who are platform-natives. In other words, creatives who grew up with those platforms and have an almost instinctual recognition of how to create with those platforms in mind. By supporting these emerging directors, Ballistic is aiming to get ahead of brands’ current and future needs by incubating the talent they know the brands should already be reaching out to.
Small and mighty
They’re already getting interesting and fresh projects out of the door like the recent campaign Calum Macdiarmid shot for the skincare brand, Simple, featuring singer Sigrid. The campaign mixed branded content with a music angle, which the whole in-house team worked on. Ballistic also just released a music video for The Academic’s song, Don’t Take It Personally, with the directing duo Tearjerker (Hope Elliott Kemp and Ronan Corrigan) travelling to Ireland to capture visuals for the bittersweet song. “A few months ago, Ballistic was just a thought, an idea - it’s really exciting to see how quickly that’s manifested into something real, already producing our own work before we’ve even officially announced our existence,” says Jamie.
The Ballistic team is (for now) small and perfectly formed: a production manager, a social media manager, an editor, and a creative treatment writer - all overseen by Jamie - with eight directors signed already and a couple more that Jamie has his eye on. “It was important for me that Ballistic started with a manageable number so that I can properly invest my time in each and every one of them, to lend their projects my personal input. You’ll see that everyone on the roster has their own style, their own expertise. We’re not interested in directors with similar styles cannibalising each other, instead we want to make sure that everyone gets to develop and build their career within their own niche.”
Jamie’s eye is always on Instagram, TikTok and their ilk when looking for new talent. “If something catches my eye, even if it’s just one piece of work – a film, a photograph - I like to reach out to them, see where their mind is at and whether they might be a good fit for what we’re doing at Ballistic,” he adds.
When signing new talent, a lot of other companies want to see finished work, but Jamie and the Ballistic team are just looking for potential - diamonds in the rough, if you like. “I have my checklist: do they have a good eye? Have they created an image I haven’t seen before? Are they already working with a team? Is there narrative running through their work? Maybe they need more production experience, some treatment advice, it doesn’t matter. All I want to see is a passion, a drive to develop, and the basic skills to make something cool - we can help them with the rest to evolve them from that point onwards,” Jamie explains.
Tailored support and training
To fulfil its mission statement of helping the next generation of directors make a mark on the industry, Jamie is taking an individualistic approach to their development, paying attention to everyone’s specific needs. “All the directors we have are at different stages of development in their careers; some have made loads of music videos while others have made maybe one or two. Some might be introverted, or not yet used to working in a team, while someone may have dyslexia and needs a hand with treatments; some don’t need much else but the support of a company behind them. Creatively, they all benefit from having like-minded people around that they can bounce ideas off each other and get feedback on their work as they make it too,” he adds.
Ballistic also regularly runs a series of workshops to help the directors hone their craft and learn what it means to work in the industry, recently including camera workshops and sessions on effective pitching and how to formalise their ideas for TV, Film, commercials, music videos and branded content.
Ballistic, is full of plans and ideas for 2023 when everything will be officially launched. Jamie has a vision of doing things a little differently to introduce the signed directors to the industry and help them make a splash, without the formality of yesteryear - a fresh new roster needs a fresh approach. “No more lunches!” he laughs. “We want to put on different events to get the industry to meet our directors in a fun, informal way, to showcase their work. It’s important to help them build relationships and I want to do it in a way that’s relevant to the culture we’re building at Ballistic. Something like a quiz night at our bar, Great Guns Social, is much more likely to give everyone a sense of that community culture and see what Ballistic is all about.”
It’s impressive to watch Ballistic’s genesis from germ of an idea to a fully fledged production company in such a short space of time. Armed with ideas, energy, and an instinctive understanding that nurturing emerging talent with an individualistic approach will only benefit the bottom line, Ballistic is more than likely to make an explosive mark on the industry.