Hi! My name is Duncan Smith and I’m from London. At school I studies Art, English Literature and Theatre. I have a BA in Fine Art form Newcastle University. During my time there, I was also an active member of the universities theatre society.You joined eYeka in 2011. Do you still remember how did you find out eYeka at that time? And why did you decide to participate in the eYeka contest?
I found out about eYeka through a friend, he came across it by chance and knew I was interested in filmmaking and advertising, so he thought it would be perfect for me. I decided to participate in my first contest to see what it was all about and how it worked. I also wanted to see if it was actually legitimate, as I couldn’t believe the amount of prize money that was on offer.We noticed you left eYeka after the first participation and came back two years later, in 2013. May I know what made you participate again?
My first entry wasn’t very good; I didn’t have the skills as a filmmaker or a commercial copywriter to be a real competitor. So I focused on trying to develop my skills and finish my degree. Once I was out of university, I came back to eYeka.Since then, you won 3 prizes on eYeka. You are very talented! Any secrets behind your success? ☺
I would say the success I have had from eYeka comes a lot from my creative background. It has shaped the way I see things visually for sure. However the most influential person was my father, he worked as a Creative Director in an advertising agency for a large portion of his life. He told me these words “Start with a great idea or don’t bother starting at all”.I see. We saw similar words in your profile page that “It's all about the idea!”. You also mentioned in Kellogg’s winner announcement that “If you don’t start with a great idea, it is a waste of time.” So can you share with us your creative process? How do you find the greatest idea?
To find a “great” idea is of course the hardest part as there is no one route to it. My best ideas usually come when I’m doing something completely random and not thinking about the brief at all. When I first get a brief, I will read it over a few time and will then note down any initial ideas. Sometime my first idea is a winning one and when it comes I just know it. If I have no joy straight away, I will do a little research into the brand and watch a couple of their old commercials. My next move is to forget about the brief completely. Go for a run, see friends, watch a movie…whatever. Then DING an idea pops in my head. If this doesn’t happen straight away I’ll repeat the process till it does.Thanks for the tips! We noticed that there are always the same kids in your video, It seems you like to shoot with kids? Can you share some backstory behind your videos?
Duncan's winning video for Hyundai contest
The kids in my films and the best! I have known them since they were born, as they were my next-door neighbours when I live at home with my parents. They come from a very talented family of actors and performers. The first commercial I shot with them was for Comfort and they were amazing! They were so excited when I arrived and so full of energy, but when the camera was rolling, they were like seasoned professionals with a level of maturity far superior than their years. I seem to always do well when I use them, as the kids say “We are the dream team!’Thanks for sharing the story and the nice team photo! After experiencing in eYeka for a few years, can you share with us what are the things you like about eYeka and what are the things you think can be improved in the future?
I think eYeka is great from someone like me who has an interest in all aspects of making a commercial. I love writing the ideas, filming and directing the actors as well as seeing it all come together in the edit. I think it is an amazing way of exploring your creativity as you can control every aspect of the commercial. It also means you can create your own work, rather than relying on someone else to give you a job. And if your entry wins, the rewards are great! The one thing I would say is that I would personally love it if the results of the competition were set on an exact date, so the filmmaker know when they are coming. I know this is really hard as some clients take longer than others, but waiting for a result with baited breath for months and moths with no idea when its coming isn’t great.Thank you for your suggestion. Our last question is: as a professional, do you have any advice to your fellow creators who wants to improve?
My biggest advice to people who want to improve is to fuel your creative fire. American ad man George Lois said, “you can’t burn a fire without logs”, meaning you cant be creative without information to be creative with. This information is all around us in the news, in literature, in magazines, on television, from people on the street…etc. Anything you absorb can spark a creative idea!Thank you for your time for this interview, Duncan! We really like your works and enjoy the stories behind your works :) We hope to see more creative videos from you and wish you all the best with your work!