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Craftsmanship meets life science

August 24, 2020

When we think of life science we often think of scientists looking down microscopes in sterile laboratories and close ups of petri dishes and numerous vials with samples. And yes pharmaceutical research is one part of it but the field of life science encompasses a whole lot more.

What is life science?

As the name might suggest, life science studies life in all its forms. To be precise it is ‘one of the types of science that deal with the structure and behaviour of living things, such as botany, zoology, biochemistry, and anthropology’ Cambridge Dictionary

In 2016 I had the honour to create a film for an awards ceremony for Merck in Madrid. With Merck being one of the leading antibody developers in the industry and antibodies being one of the critical tools for most areas of life science research, it wasn’t surprising that the client wanted to feature this Y-shaped protein somehow in the film.

Where does the craftsmanship come in?

Instead of showing the usual fairly clinical image being used in most pharma videos, my approach for the ‘Power of One Award’ film for Merck was slightly different. The brief was to create an emotive film for a big awards ceremony working with the sculptor Simon Allison who had devised and built several large scale sculptures for Merck before. This time him and his team of artisans at Lockbund Foundry were designing and making the actual awards that the winners were presented with at the ceremony.

The creative process

Designing a sculpture on a much smaller scale than his previous pieces made for an interesting and exciting process and Simon noted that ‘When visiting Maerck’s life science laboratories the passion for what they were doing was palpable and they described the antibody as being a crucial part of what they were doing. It also being a simple Y-shaped protein it became a simple thing to work with and was almost an obvious choice.’ when I asked him how the final decision on the shape of the award came about.

Not only was it fascinating to get a look behind the scenes of a foundry and exciting to be close up when 1000 ℃ degree metal was being poured into moulds, but it was also an absolute pleasure capturing these craftsmen and women doing what they love. My aim was to get their passion for their work and the creative process across on screen which when you get it right is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I like to think that I’m putting as much love and attention to detail in my films as the artisans I’m working with.

Because of this, and I’m not going to lie, maybe also a little bit because of the amazing feedback I’ve received, with no changes to the edit, the ‘Power of One Award’ film for Merck is still one of my favourite projects to date. You don’t hear ‘You put what I had in my head on screen’ every day so this was obviously hugely flattering, but I think that being empathic, having a keen eye for detail and truly caring about my work has served me well so far and does come across in my projects.

As Simon Allison put it when I asked him what sculpture means to him ‘It’s a visual language, it’s a physical language and it’s a language that enables me to communicate thoughts and ideas more readily than the written language.’, making films and the creative process of video production on the whole serves a very similar purpose for me.

If you would like to watch more artisan videos head over to the Craft section of my portfolio.

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