90 Seconds Creator spotlight: Michael J. Ferns

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90 Seconds
7 years ago・3 min read

Michael J. Ferns is a 25 year old BAFTA award winning and Children’s BAFTA nominated Scottish director based in London.

Since joining the 90 Seconds community in 2014, he has directed nearly 40 projects in London. Michael has worked extensively in commercial and branded content for some of the world’s leading brands and agencies as well as broadcast television. He also co-created and directed the first series of the CBBC Official Chart Show.

90 Seconds caught up with him recently to learn more about his journey into the field of professional video. Having been making films obsessively since he was 12 years old, his career is already established with an accomplished list of commercials and branded content.

Ferns is represented in London with Pretzel Films, in Scotland with The Gate Films, and in Ireland with Red Rage Films. Given these experiences, we were eager to ask him a few questions about how he started out.

90 Seconds: What are the biggest challenges you face today as a director in the UK?

Michael Ferns: “As I have become more connected with bigger production companies. The challenge is having the discipline to deal effectively with brands on bigger budget projects. It is a constant tension of knowing when to push and how to advance the client’s goal. Ultimately, collaborating with a client is a matter of proposing solutions. This is so that the client owns the idea as their own.”

It’s an art, Ferns admits, and requires having a strong conviction of his own abilities and sticking to them. The client is hiring you for your knowledge, after all. And it’s the director’s job to make sure the client makes the best use of their parameters.

90 Seconds: When did you know you wanted to become a director?

Michael Ferns: “I knew I wanted to become a director since I was 12. My grandfather was involved in a film in Scotland as the director of the Edinburgh Film Festival. As a young boy, I was obsessed with VHS, making family home videos.”

When asked about the importance of film school, his response was that it was not a necessary requirement by any means. But it allowed him 3 years to mature with like-minded people.

As new opportunities continue to emerge around new like-minded creators, his membership in the 90 Seconds community affords him a flexible model – complementing the non-exclusive representation he has in place as a director.

He does not have to spend as much time in the pitching process that his agency work requires. To him, these are the best parts of the 90 Seconds model. In fact, when he is invited to a project, he simply can accept or decline the project after reviewing the brief.

90 Seconds is there when you need it, and it doesn’t get in the way when your schedule is filled up.

Ferns also likes the quick turnaround for the client and as a creator that 90 Seconds projects often have. Lastly, he mentions that it’s “fun to work with new people every time”.

Thus, sticking in the 90 Seconds community continues to be a benefit even as his bigger commercial work has taken flight.

You can see more of Michael’s work on www.michaeljferns.com