Laura Geagea is Regional Managing Director, Sweetshop China, Asia, MENA and also Jury President of Film Craft Lotus & New Director Lotus at this year’s ADFEST Lotus Awards. Laura shares her expertise and insights on advertising production and what it takes to be successful as an aspiring filmmaker.


ADFEST: What are the most noticeable changes you’ve seen in advertising filmmaking in APAC in the last few years?


Laura Geagea: In the last 10 years or so the industry as a whole has become more mature in the way they approach filmmaking. The audience is savvy and they can see through what is being put in front of them. So brands have to be really bold to grab the attention of a media saturated audience. Keeping this in mind, there have been big shifts from storytelling pieces and emotive work to vignettes and more poppy work to then introducing more humoUr-led pieces in the last few years. All with the intention of creating a connection to the audience. 


Great performances, cinematography and story seem to be taking a step into the mainstream, meaning that having great filmmakers and creatives working together is the key for successful pieces and finally and most importantly the focus on Craft being a priority. Which leads to quality work. 


ADFEST: What do you feel are the most important assets that young filmmakers and producers bring to the industry?


Laura Geagea: I think the sweet naivety that comes hand in hand with being fresh off the boat is an asset. When you are new to an industry you can become a challenger and rebel (rightly or wrongly) to push the work further and better all the time. This is so important in filmmaking as we are always pushing boundaries. I love working with young directors. They are so enthusiastic and question things. They are not set in the way of adhering to the rules. It’s exciting to see what creativity sparks from these freshly passionate minds. And also interesting to see how they adapt their visions when they do realise what rules cannot be bent and what they can create out of that.


ADFEST: What are the most important things that experience has taught you in your career?


Laura Geagea: There is nothing quite like learning hands on - textbook learning will never quite prepare you for any job. It all happens when you start working. Our industry is constantly evolving and being able to think on your feet is something you pick up as you go. Being able to think ahead and see things before they happen is the best way to be a strong producer basically. But also finding good ways to try to avoid the issues. Plan ahead to make things smoother. Get the right people on the right projects. 


Being able to train teams is also a great way to learn. It proves you have to fully understand the things you pass on. It is so rewarding to find the right spark in people and then be able to give them the opportunity to learn, grow, create and develop. You also understand yourself what is worth passing on and what is not, therefore reassessing where you put your energy in your daily work.


ADFEST:  What are the most important things about Fabulous Five in your view?


Laura Geagea: The Fabulous Five competition (and initiative!) is really unique. The platform that is given to young filmmakers is a huge opportunity for them to get discovered in. In our industry, you need to be good and talented and driven and so many things but, you also need to be lucky enough to meet the right people and for those people to notice you, your work and see some potential in both. So really the visibility that the competition gives the filmmakers is what makes it so special.


When you’re working on your own personal projects, there is nothing quite like a deadline, a goal and a few rules to follow. Sometimes projects will get lost in the day-to-day noise and never see the light of day. Encouraging young filmmakers to complete a film with an incentive of gaining recognition and reputation that makes them desirable to work with in future is priceless. This also helps the industry as a whole for the future. It shows us what stories the younger generations want to tell, how they want to tell them, how they see the world. And this will inform clients, funders, industry members of the trends, what works, what doesn’t, what is the narrative that we need to look into. 


I would encourage any young filmmaker to enter the competition. From setting the intention to doing the work and getting it in front of so many influential people there is so much positive in that, that is very hard to come by. So, it is definitely a platform for a multitude of positive outcomes.


ADFEST: What advice would you give to young filmmakers and producers who want a career in film?


Laura Geagea: I would say, get a position on a job and start working. We all remember the days when we were young PAs (that is where all of us started out) and the rush of being on set, surrounded by the top guns and big expensive equipment. Shooting our own little films, doing our part on a big set. Finding your space in the industry is a mix of hard work, knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time, so the best thing you can do is to be around. Make sure people know who you are and that you are someone who will work hard for what you want to achieve. Even if in some cases you are not yet 100% sure what it is that you want to achieve, that always tends to follow quite quickly. You will never know what it is you love and what you are good at if you don’t jump in head-first and experience it all.

23 January, 2023            
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