Behind the Title: Freefolk MD Justine White

NAME: Justine White

COMPANY: Freefolk

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We are a high-end visual effects and post production company in our 15th year. We are independently owned and work hard at providing a creative environment and culture where talent can flourish. We work across commercials, TV, film and content in London and New York.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Managing Director.

Freefolk’s longform team in London.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As MD, I have an overall view of the whole company across London and New York, so I drive everything from business development, strategy and PR to keeping tabs on projects going through the company. Day to day I have regular meetings with heads of department, PR, HR, finance and technology internally, and externally I am always in touch with clients, suppliers and industry bodies — I am always on the lookout for new talent.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
The role of MD is so broad; there are some things you are obliged to do running a company, but it’s the other aspects of my job that make it my own version of being an MD.

Working in films and commercials means I’m surrounded by creativity and innovation, so I tend to approach the business from a creative angle. An example is when we had a vacant top floor and we turned it into a pop-up yoga studio. This went down so well with clients and staff alike that I’d love to be able to offer it permanently.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
The great thing about project-based work is you are always working with different people on new ideas. We’ve worked alongside some of the best directing talent in the world, award-winning creatives and producers. If they are trying to push boundaries, it challenges us to do so too. If I’m not being challenged I get bored quite easily.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Admin!!!!!

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
Definitely the morning – PC (post coffee)

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
An international superstar DJ, of course.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I was introduced to the graphic Quantel Paintbox at a young age during a work experience… even though I was truly impressed by what was happening in the suite, afterwards I told my parents quite explicitly that, “I would never work in advertising painting out women’s wrinkles.” Now cut to current day…

The Alienist

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We’ve recently carried out VFX on a new TV series called The Alienist for TNT. I’m a fan of the book, so it’s really exciting to be working on it! It looks beautiful and we’re so proud of the work we’ve done.

Cadbury Mum, a TVC directed by Frederic Planchon almost brings you to tears it is so well done and quite a lovely film. I also love the new Zelle commercials, starring Hamilton actor Daveed Diggs. Great scripts and the grade our New York colorist Paul Harrison did is stunning.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
A commercial we did for a campaign for mobile network O2 featured some very sweet goslings. Whenever I show this to people they don’t even realize the goslings are all CGI. Not only that, it fulfilled a long-time goal for one of our artists who loves creature work, and it won a host of awards for VFX.

On a personal level setting up our New York office was a major achievement for me.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
A good set of headphones to listen to my music to survive the commute across London to work.

I hate to admit, but my iPhone, which should really be called anything but a phone. Does anyone actually talk anymore?

I know this is cheating, but all VFX software and hardware, because if it didn’t exist I wouldn’t be making a living!

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
What’s App!!! My mummy group was a lifeline during my maternity leave; we have a work group called the Freefolk Daily Review, which started as a burger review group and morphed into food reviews and just about anything.

Instagram was a revelation when it first launched. There was a real focus on quality photographic images… seeing the world through everyday people’s immediate images has opened our minds.

Workplace is Facebook’s ESN (enterprise social network) — we use it at Freefolk to share links, show work we’ve done or liked across the two sites and to discuss work in various groups. The idea is to reduce internal email traffic and focus more efficiently.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
When I was a junior Flame artist often working nights, I’d listen to Air, Tosca, Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Theivery Corporation, etc., kind of chilled, but with a slow beat.

If I was doing that job now it would be Mixcloud shows all the way. Fleetmac Wood, Greg Wilson, Bill Brewster and Glitterbox DJ mixes.

Nowadays I’m on a production floor where you are flitting from email to calls to meetings, so “radio” friendly music works well. Also, ‘90s pop seems to be on trend in the office right now, but it changes daily depending on who’s on the controls.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Bananagrams!!! It’s a team-based word game like Scrabble we have sitting around in the office. It gives you a quick high-speed competitive rush usually ending in laughter or screaming. I highly recommend every office gets one!


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