On My Radar: Duncan Russell
Secret Frisbee champ & Freefolk's head of grading, Duncan Russell, admires the mystery of wireless chargers, finds beauty in unlikely places and reckons creepy but clever phone targeting tech is the most creative advertising he's seen lately.
What’s the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?
My phone listening to my conversations and weirdly pertinent commercials appearing ‘spontaneously’ the next time I go online. Creepy, but clever.
What website(s) do you use most regularly and why?
The Guardian, because I respect the journalism and I’m a card-carrying member of the liberal elite.
What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought and why?
A wireless phone charger. I can literally save seconds! There is something mysteriously satisfying about casually placing your device on a sleek little dias instead of enduring the rigmarole of carefully inserting a plastic thing into your phone’s bumhole.
What product could you not live without?
My bike. It provides transport, beauty (the bike, not me), entertainment, mystique, health and helps air quality, noise pollution and congestion simultaneously. I challenge anyone to name another invention that can do all that.
What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?
You Were Never Really Here by Lynne Ramsey. It’s a tourniquet tight, unflinchingly nasty little B-movie. Not a single wasted frame and everything in its right place.
What film do you think everyone should have seen?
If you want to be entertained, Wild At Heart. If you’re a parent, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. If you’re an old Swedish professor taking a road trip to receive an honorary degree, Wild Strawberries. If you’re a film student, Nosferatu [below]. If you’re considering suicide, It’s a Wonderful Life. If you want your heart to swell up and burst with love and joy, The Princess Bride.
What’s your preferred social media platform and why?
I only indulge in one and it’s Instagram. I can keep up with all my interests efficiently and through pretty pictures which is my input of choice. I can also post my own photography and dream of being discovered. You can all worship my shockingly mediocre fare: @brainsofmud
What’s your favourite TV show and why?
I can’t decide between Twin Peaks, The Wire, or Mad Men. Twin Peaks because it redefined the boundaries of TV. It is utterly terrifying and very funny and it made me realise that I didn’t have to understand it to get the emotion, it’s like a dream. The Wire for its anger, its sense of social justice and its ambition. Mad Men for its aesthetic and for its portrayal of American capitalist mythology and gender politics.
What’s your favourite podcast?
Totally Football with James Richardson. Erudite, witty escapism for the stressed-out football fan. I absolutely must keep up with the Bundesliga!
What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?
My brother just performed the lead (baddie) role in an amateur dramatics pantomime [below], eight months after having a huge brain tumour removed. That was pretty inspirational.
Where were you when inspiration last struck?
I would have to say cycling home when the light is particularly ravishing. Beauty is everywhere and it’s up to us visual types to try and capture it. We bring a little joy by converting and re-packaging beauty from the real world into something consumable. Otherwise it would just slip away forever. I’m not talking about pointing a £1,000 camera at a sunset and saying, ‘ooh, aren’t I a good photographer?’. The art I get the biggest kick out of manages to winkle out the beauty from unlikely places, even when when it’s not ‘beautiful’.
What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it?
Pragmatism. It’s now the driving force. I remember when flamboyance held more sway. I make no judgement about it either way. Things are much more sustainable now, maybe a bit less interesting.
If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?
Balance. There is too much wasted time. I don’t think we are a particularly efficient industry. Then again, we might pull all these long hours because we enjoy it so damn much.
What or who has most influenced your career and why?
Tareq Kubaisi. He pushed me and believed in me. I feel very grateful about that.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know…
I am very, very good at frisbee.