Strategy to Screen
Simon “Mo” MacRae is one of Australia's most in demand commercial directors, with over 25 years experience in advertising and film production working on international brands such as Volvo, CNN, Intel, Coca-Cola & Reebok in Sydney, Singapore and New York.
In 2007 Mo won the million dollar screenplay competition, Project Greenlight Australia, with his brother Kenn. They went on to direct their feature film “The View From Greenhaven” starring Wendy Hughes & Chris Haywood, which ran in cinemas across Australia and New Zealand for 31 weeks.
He has gone on to direct some of Australia’s most loved TV commercials including Mother Energy Drink, Gatorade with Tim Cahill and the Sam Kekovich “Australia Day” ads for AMLC (Lamb).
Mo delivers keynotes and training on video content and the craft of directing - helping business owners, marketers and leaders understand and master the most influential mode of communication in our time to leverage their video content spend for maximum returns.
And for those who are bold enough to embrace the future, Mo also offers an exclusive mentoring program for creative professionals who want to become a director.
"Video is the most potent and prolific mode of communication in our time and those who know how to use it will rule the new economy - Mo MacRae"
His Story – Simon ‘Mo’ MacRae
Simon ‘Mo’ Macrae is obsessed with creativity. Formally, he is a renowned commercial director who teaches creative professionals how to direct their work and produce content for higher profit margins. It goes much deeper than that however - he understands how to invoke emotion, drive engagement and connect with an audience.
Mo had admittedly always had a passion for creativity, and he feels that video content and film is the epitome of exploring that. He believes it has incredible power and is the most potent form of communication to affect human beings not only physically, but also emotionally. Mo likens it to a ‘drug’, where it is administered to capture and captivate the audience to inspire and connect with who they are and what the message is.
Project Greenlight changed Mo’s life. The film industry is notoriously difficult to crack given the barriers to entry in terms of capital, proximity and the connections needed to find your fit. Although Mo and his brother Kenn had been to Hollywood to pitch their scripts and meet potential clients – the conversations were cordial but not very fruitful.
They entered Project Greenlight, an American documentary television series produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon aimed towards first-time filmmakers – albeit five minutes before the deadline. Their submission got accepted into the Top 40 finalists, where they would fight it out over 12 episodes in the hands of the public to win the $1 million prize and the opportunity to get their vision off the ground.
Mo and Kenn eventually won the competition and produced The View from Greenhaven with Paul McDermott, which was aired across Australian and New Zealand cinemas for 31 weeks. It was their ‘in’ to commercial directing, whereby others go through the music video or social media platform, they took the direct route from feature film to commercial directing.
It allowed Mo to explore his passion, which he feels thankful to be doing each day. He loves the art of storytelling and managing different cogs in the screenplay machine in representing the elements, propositions and meaning behind the brands and people he works for.
Advice for Others – Simon ‘Mo’ MacRae
Trying to Break Into the Industry
Although it is difficult given the tight circles, Mo feels that there is an incredible amount of knowledge, insight and content available. He feels it comes down to the passion and drive within each of us to take advantage of that, continuously learning the craft and working out the intricacies behind the technical decision-making.
He believes that if you’re truly in it to win it you’ll find a way, as when the quality of your work improves - so does your chance of getting noticed.
Managing the Presence of Technology
The mass democratisation has lowered the barriers to entry within the industry, making it more accessible for more people to produce content on more platforms.
These days, everyone has a camera, but Mo believes there is a fundamental gap between having access to a camera and mastering the craft of telling a story with that camera. He feels that ‘90% of directing is what you do before turning the camera on’ – in terms of the intention, vision and production of your work.
Creating Your Own Content
For so long, there has been a mystique around film production and self-promotion. In modern day, it is an effective mechanism to grow your personal brand and further your propositions, where Mo feels people have the ability to tell powerful stories and represent the interests in your agenda.
He sees it as important to see yourself as the director, and understanding the shift in mindset that video content can produce and therefore the impact it can have.
Book Recommendations – Simon ‘Mo’ MacRae
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Writing by Robert McKee
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Contacting Simon ‘Mo’ MacRae
Creative professionals who need to broaden their skillset and master their video content can contact Mo for mentoring and teaching via his website at simonmacrae.com. As well as this, he runs a ‘strategy to screen’ initiative for marketing professionals and entrepreneurs for how to ‘get crude without getting screwed’ - also found through his website.