Congratulations on winning Production Company of the Year; why do you think the last 12 months has been so successful?

DK: Thank you. We are proud of that acknowledgement. shots has been an international champion of creativity and craft from back when we both started in the industry. You are one platform that consistently champions production companies, filmmakers, and the importance of uncompromising execution. We still have the complete collection of the shots magazine! Just having work featured in there was always a cause for celebration. To be recognised as your Production Company of the Year means so much and feels like a seminal moment in our story. 

We genuinely love what we do. It’s a true team effort at Pulse Films.

JS: We work very hard and it sounds cheesy but we genuinely love what we do. It’s a true team effort at Pulse Films - we are blessed to be surrounded by an incredible team of producers, directors and everyone in between. 

Above: James Sorton, left, and Davud Karbaassioun, Managing Director and President respectively of Pulse Films.

How would you describe Pulse's approach to the business and its output? 

JS: We pride ourselves on the high quality film that we produce, but also our unique position of producing advertising and entertainment at the very highest level.  We are a very connected business, but have separate leadership and core teams for scripted and unscripted film, TV, live music, music videos, as well as commercials. As a result, we have a truly holistic relationship with our talent across multiple filmmaking genres and platforms which has created a hub for our directors which we are really proud of.

Alongside the commercials we made in 2019 we also produced feature length documentaries, non-fiction TV shows, scripted feature films and music videos.

DK: While we produce film in all shapes and sizes, our core objective is simple; to deliver at the very highest creative level across each of our core divisions with work that has; 

1) Unapologetically high production values.

2) A real purpose and perspective. 

3) That truly taps into modern popular culture.  

Alongside the commercials we made in 2019 we also produced feature length documentaries (including Bikram for Netflix, and the Emmy award-winning Trophy), non-fiction TV shows (The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann),  live shows (Aziz Ansari Right Now, with Spike Jonze for Netflix) scripted feature films (Ninian Doff’s SXSW jury prize-winning Boyz in the Wood), and music videos for artists including The Prodigy, Run the Jewels, Radiohead, Idles, DJ Shadow and the Grammy nominated video We’ve Got To Try, for The Chemical Brothers.  

We are also incredibly passionate about new talent and put huge emphasis on developing directors. That could be young directors working in music videos for the first time (under the leadership of the brilliant Rik Green), or more established long form storytellers being brought in to commercials for the first time.

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Veg Power – ITV/Veg Power: Eat Them To Defeat Them

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ITV – ITV: The Patriarch; The Guvnor

Above: Ninian Doff's work for ITV & Veg Power's Eat Them to Defeat Them, through BBH London. Also, more work for ITV, this time highlighting two of the channel's hit shows, directed by James Marsh.

The production landscape has been a constantly evolving beast over recent years; how has Pulse adapted to those changes? 

JS: We think our diverse model and adaptable approach has served us well. It hasn’t been easy, and there have been significant investments, but we’re excited that things have aligned so well with the needs of an ever evolving landscape, in a world where advertisers need real storytellers to engage their audience, rather than relying on interrupting them all the time. 

We’ve been lucky to find and elevate an exceptional roster of talented and loyal directors.

Also as said we continue to back and nurture our own talent. We’ve been lucky to find and elevate an exceptional roster of talented and loyal directors by working with them from their very early days as a filmmaker.

Do you see more evolution on the horizon and, if so, what shape do you think it might take? 

DK: We work in an environment where nothing is certain or easy anymore. The stakes and competition are so high these days so we take nothing for granted. That said, in 2019 there seemed to be a welcome rekindled respect for production values. There was a time when filmmaking was seen as a commodity and everyone and anyone suddenly was a filmmaker…thankfully it feels like  we’ve moved on from that.  

In 2019 there seemed to be a welcome rekindled respect for production values.

In the words of Sir John Hegarty, “everyone can create but not everyone should exhibit!” In the last 12 months we are seeing a return to form in terms of the quality of the ideas, the respect for true talent and the understanding to invest back into the craft. 

KFC – Chicken Town

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Above: Sam Pilling's film for KFC.

What have been the biggest challenges for Pulse - and production companies in general - over the last 12 months? 

JS: The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty in the world we live in and the impact that has on what we make and how we make it. We take nothing for granted as a production company. We start from scratch ever year and work hard to ensure we earn each and every opportunity and over-deliver for those that back and are loyal to us. Relationships are so precious and we are very proud of some of the creative partnerships we’ve forged in 2019 with some of the best creative talent in the industry 

You have a great roster of talented directors at Pulse; what do you look for in a director before signing them, and how hard do you think it is now to break into what is a very competitive marketplace? 

JS: We look for raw talent, but also filmmakers that really care about the work they are making. Both those things are key. 

DK: In 2019 we saw a new generation of filmmakers stepping up and challenging the usual suspects. We like to be the unusual suspects so to speak, as that means we are offering something fresh. We are hugely proud of what we made in 2019 and of the filmmakers we work closely with. 

We like to be the unusual suspects so to speak, as that means we are offering something fresh.

In the words of our very own James Marsh; “Pulse Films is the ideal company for me. Its diverse interests and belief in the power of the visual image reflect my own identity as a filmmaker. It’s a company that gives filmmakers a bridge into the future of all visual storytelling.” 

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Loyle Carner – Ottolenghi

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The Chemical Brothers – We’ve Got To Try

Above: Music videos for Loyle Carner [Oscar Hudson] and the Chemical Bros. [Ninian Doff].

How important is recognition for the work you produce, and what does winning the Production Company of the Year mean for you? 

JS: Recognition is always nice, especially when it’s from shots, who have an international audience and a legacy of properly championing creativity and craft. Winning Production Company of the Year confirms that we are on the right track and gives us the confidence to continue to believe in what we are working so hard to build.  

What are your hopes and plans for Pulse across 2020? 

DK: 2019 was a seminal year for us. This recognition was a nice way to close the year. That said, we can’t help but feel we are only just getting started.  

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Comic Relief – Wise Words

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Department for Education – Department for Education: Every Lesson Shapes a Life

Above: ThirtyTwo's films for Comic Relief and the Department of Education.