Untold Fable tells a story of diversity
When Kate Tancred started Untold Fable it was with the idea that technology could empower filmmakers outside the usual geographic strongholds, helping broaden the industry's talent base. Here, she talks risk, reward and creating opportunity.
We used to have this mantra,” says Kate Tancred, the CEO of Untold Fable. “It was ‘look beyond Soho’. There is a lot of talent in Soho, but there’s also amazing talent outside of its confines, and we had this mantra to ensure people outside central London were considered for opportunities’
Tancred is talking about the time she worked as CEO at The Smalls, a company she founded and which provided advertising clients a quicker and more cost-effective way to produce high quality video content. Working there for nine years, up until 2020, Tancred oversaw a business which combined advertising expertise with creativity that came from a global community of over 20,000 independent filmmakers and production companies.
There is a lot of talent in Soho, but there’s also amazing talent outside of its confines.
Untold Fable, which Tancred founded at the start of 2021 after partnering with AnalogFolk, is a similar proposition to The Smalls but, this time, puts diversity and inclusion at the heart of the business. While some things may have changed, says Tancred, and Soho is no longer the be-all-and-end-all for creativity, there is still a lot of work to be done.
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Above: Untold Fable's work with e-scooter brand, Taur.
“[The advertising industry] is really fragmented now, which I think has done it some good in that more people are getting a shot and are able to build their reels,” says Tancred. “But most clients don’t know who’s showing up on-set until they get there.” And, invariably, those that do show up often lack diversity.
Tancred, an Australian by birth, but who has spent a lot of time in the UK, is aiming to provide a way in which clients that talk the diversity talk, can also walk it too. She started The Smalls at just 24-years-old and only left because of a desire to help the industry diversify.
[The advertising industry] is really fragmented now, which I think has done it some good in that more people are getting a shot.
“It was a decision fuelled by a commitment to address the pressing issue of diversity in the production industry,” says Tancred, “an area I felt passionately about, and saw as an opportunity for significant improvement. And I wanted to start a family as well. Travelling the world to the degree I was doing meant that wasn’t going to be possible. My aim was to forge partnerships with people who shared my vision and to work collaboratively with experts whose knowledge and experience would amplify our collective impact.
"I’d met Bill [Brock] and Matt [Dyke], the founders of AnalogFolk, before, and loved them. They’re super-passionate and really involved in their business, and have really ambitious goals for turning what was a creative agency into something bigger. They made me an offer where they would give me some seed capital and we would go into business together on Untold Fable.”
Above: Kate Tancred and some of the Untold Fable gang.
Tancred says her specialism is in building production companies that have a specific technological component, but with Untold Fable she wanted to use that technological component for good, rather than just for scale.
Untold Fable describes itself as a global content company which has a decentralised network of talent. “We have 3,000 filmmakers now registered to our tech platform across 60 different countries,” explains Tancred. “We also have the ability to measure their diversity, equity and inclusion statistics and those stats - age, gender, nationality, sexual orientation - sit alongside their profile.”
As not everyone gets the same opportunities in their careers, the Untold Fable platform and approach can make sure that the creative net is cast much wider.
The idea is that, as not everyone gets the same opportunities in their careers, the Untold Fable platform and approach can make sure that the creative net is cast much wider, helping clients that have committed to more diverse working practices to achieve that goal. “Let’s say you’re Nike,” explains Tancred, “and Nike says, ‘Right, we’re going to do this shoot and we want the crew to be 50/50 male and female. We want 25% people of colour and 10% people who are differently abled. We can do that. We’ll make sure that the crew reflects those quantitative figures and we will measure against that at the end too, giving the client all the DE&I stats associated with their campaign.”
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Above: Untold Fable has 3,000 filmmakers registered to its tech platform across 60 different countries, and creates work for companies including Nike, Stella Artois, HSBC, Bayer and Badoo.
Untold Fable works directly with clients – Nike, Stella Artois, HSBC, Bayer and Elvie being just some of the brands they’ve collaborated with - and Tancred says that they approach a lot of independent creative people to be part of the network, with many also applying directly to the company. “Traditional production companies are often not getting those types of projects, the branded content projects,” Tancred says. “They don’t go through the traditional creative agency production company models so, if you are repped, you’re probably not getting access to that sector of the industry.”
For more consistent change to come about “people of colour and people from diverse backgrounds need to be promoted into more senior positions.
Tancred says that the company’s association with AnalogFolk accounts for around 50% of their client base, the rest being direct to client. Sixteen producers based in two different locations – London and New York - ‘own’ the projects Untold Fable works on and the creative team is then geared up around that producer, dependent on where the project is shooting. “We try not to fly,” says Tancred. “It means less carbon and more money on screen.”
Diversity within the industry has, rightly, been at the forefront of many people’s minds for the last few years. Countless words have been written, lists made and speeches given about its importance. Under-representation is something AnalogFolk has also shined a light on recently, producing a book last year in association with Creative Mentor Network, called Making It In The Creative Industry: A Practical Guide, which used satire to highlight the barriers faced by young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds trying to get a job in the creative industry. For more consistent change to come about “people of colour and people from diverse backgrounds need to be promoted into more senior positions,” says Tancred.
Above: Above: Illustrations in Making It In The Creative Industry: A Practical Guide were done by award-winning artist Toby Leigh.
But, for all the talk, has anything changed? “A lot of clients have great intentions because they’ve quantified their goals and they have to live up to them,” says Tancred. “But I think we’re in a state of transition, and while there are a lot of really great initiatives from a lot of people, it is really difficult. [Diversity] takes more time. It costs more money in some situations. It can be hard to put someone forward or take a chance on someone who isn’t proven. I think there is an element of risk that clients are feeling that is creating some inertia, which is a real shame.
[Diversity] takes more time. It costs more money in some situations. It can be hard to put someone forward or take a chance on someone who isn’t proven.
“But that’s not the case for everyone. This is what we specialise in, and we obviously talk to our clients about it a lot. We see some of them really embrace this. Nike is a great example. They want to actively give opportunities to talent who haven’t had them, and they rely on us to source those people using our platform, then support them when we’re on-set.
"I think what we’re seeing is that people have really great intentions but, at the moment, they're lacking the tools in order to achieve their goals when it comes to DE&I. Our goal is that we become that tool.”