We’re into the month of May, and here in the UK that means we’re not far away from reducing lockdown restrictions further. Business owners and executives have of course already started mapping out what this transition will look like; the fresh opportunities and challenges it presents on so many levels.

It is at times like these when immersing yourself in planning and future thinking seems the most logical course of action. And it is of course…BUT there is also something in taking a moment to stop and reflect on the past year…

  • what we’ve learnt
  • what we’ve achieved
  • what’s excited us
  • when we felt our lowest

and of course… what we want to celebrate

Celebrating our ‘legends of lockdown’

The idea for this blog came from our own reflections on what’s excited us over the past year at Maier. Top of mind was hearing numerous stories and seeing first-hand how leaders and teams have faced into the uncertainty of the past year with creativity, ingenuity and resilience, and as a result have achieved some pretty incredible things.

So, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate our ‘legends of lockdown’ and hear their reflections on what the past year has meant for them.

This month we’re speaking with Greg Hackett, Director and Founder of Spindle Productions.

Since lockdown began, Spindle have had to completely adapt their approach to film production.

As a longstanding friend of Maier, we approached Greg after hearing how he had directed an entire campaign virtually, from home! For us this encapsulated the determination and drive that leaders and organisations have shown in adjusting at pace to unforeseen changes.

“Directing from home…essentially you would have the four usual elements; what the camera is seeing, the crew, the producer/1AD & the client, but all remotely. It’s a bit of a dance between zoom calls, Q take and the odd iMessage, but it was fun. Definitely something we should be thinking about more with regards to recruitment and reducing our travel!”

Q&A with Greg Hackett

Think back a year ago and describe what life was like at Spindle in Jan/Feb 2020?

Spindle had undergone a radical change in June 2019, a new business model and a new staffing structure. After six months hard graft, we were finally seeing an upward trend of new business. That was until mid-March, when the reality of the pandemic was hitting.

Tell me about how that changed as COVID began to take hold – what were your first responses in terms of the business?

We had £1.8 million worth of new business opportunities wiped straight off the board.

Brands didn’t know whether the message was appropriate to communicate any longer, insurances to shoot were changing and being cobbled together in tandem with the union, but the appetite for business as usual essentially disappeared overnight.

COVID has given us the ultimate storyline over the past year…what would you say has been the lowest point for you and on reflection how did you manage it/work through it?

The lowest point was working through our finances when the news broke, and realising that we were going to need to completely pivot to make work within this new landscape.

Where have you found most joy as Director during this time?

For me joy always comes from challenge, and this period has thrown us challenge after challenge, so there’s a reward to every victory there.

Additionally, I found joy in the hustle of it all – getting our hands dirty in areas such as live streaming, CGI and post production that we don’t usually concentrate on.

What have you learned about yourself as a leader through this period?

Lockdown one, and the pause to business as usual, gave me time to think about our purse and our impact on the world, and how this aligns with our business practices and products.

We came up with an entire initiative called People and Planet to align our personal values more with our company’s values.

Rate these three in order, most important first; resilience, adaptability, endurance and why?

I’d say actually, for me, two different words stand out: Vision and perseverance.

Vision spells out to your team where you are headed, it gives everyone a destination to aim for and will galvanise spirits in hard times.

Perseverance for when the times are hard and the doors aren’t opening, when you believe in what you’re doing, but others don’t, because what I’ve learned is that if you truly believe in your vision, and you keep trying, you will see opportunities arise.

Thinking ahead what’s now critical for you at Spindle that wasn’t 12 months ago?

Adaptability is now written into our DNA, whereas before we may have been strict with our processes, we’re now adding creativity to the way we flex per project and per client in a way that pre-covid we perhaps weren’t.

What has the pandemic taught you about your craft? Could we see a new genre of filmmaking emerge as a result of this?

It’s taught us that the power will, and always will be, in storytelling.

Whether you execute a story through a zoom call, or through a multimillion studio production, if the narrative and storytelling doesn’t speak to people it won’t work.

This is a universal truth that will stand the test of time.

Describe where you are now as a business?

Where are we now… the result of the experience through lockdown is that we have a buoyed sense of purpose and passion about what we do, and it has given us a hunger to keep creating and keep nurturing new talent and new stories.

The hard work and perseverance is now starting to pay off with a very positive upturn in business.