LBB speaks to partner and executive producer Toby Walsham to find out how FAMILIA is rewriting the rulebook and affirming its place as a future forward business
London-based production company FAMILIA has long been known for having its finger on the pulse. Founded by Craig Moore, Francis Wallis and Sashinski (Sasha Nathwani) to create more of the work they wanted to see in the world, the company has always had a keen eye for tapping into contemporary culture, influential people and global trends.
When fourth partner and executive producer, Toby Walsham, completed the core team in 2017, he saw an opportunity to use his experience in the advertising world to convert FAMILIA into a commercial force. In a short four years, the company had evolved into a trusted commercial business, but its ambition certainly does not stop there.
Always striving to remain a next generation production company, FAMILIA understands its responsibility to constantly evolve and do better for its clients, its team, and for the industry. “Our focus is on delivering a next gen approach to production, because time and time again, we’re seeing agencies and brands looking for what’s next,” Toby asserts.
Bold & Brave
Valuing the bold and the brave, FAMILIA always aims to showcase unique perspectives. “That's why the company was started - to have the opportunity to tell our stories with an alternative tone of voice,” Toby says.
“At our core, we've always been a company that has a deep respect for bold and brave filmmaking. Whether that’s an outrageous, clever idea or one that’s beautifully simple, we fundamentally believe that ‘bold and brave’ entails bringing together cutting-edge thinking and creativity, to form a production house of the future. Premium quality campaigns with a clear and succinct strategy.
To achieve this, a big part of FAMILIA’s pitching process is led by trends and data. “We’ve hired a strategist and trend forecaster, internally dubbed as our ‘’Next Gen Tools’’, to help us constantly ask ourselves, what's next?” Toby shares. “It means that we are informed and prepared for what the next string of innovations are likely to be.”
Toby goes on to say that “running a production company shouldn't just be about making pretty pictures, there is so much more that we can use to inform the creative, which is why we run data and trend forecasting on all scripts coming through the building, making the work and its core idea more effective and relevant.”
It’s clear that this commitment to going above and beyond is what keeps clients such as FIFA and booking.com coming back for more.
Speaking with Toby, his passion for instilling a progressive attitude within the business really shines through. “It is incredibly important to us,” he stresses. “As we navigate this post-pandemic landscape as a company, we want to ensure our people are looked after. It's small things like having really good internal policies, introducing long service sabbatical rewards and having an end-of-year bonus scheme that is paid evenly amongst all staff, instead of it being a hierarchical pay-check.”
“We've got staff from all different walks of life - and every individual has their own needs with respect to their mental health, financial and working arrangement. If you're able to support your team with their various bespoke personal needs, the whole team works better as a collective. That means that the whole company shares in the success of winning a job or a campaign – more reflective of a family unit.”
Wanting to change some of the negative practices he has observed in the industry, Toby is keen to harbour a nurturing working environment. “There’s this general idea that being treated badly, especially in those developmental support roles, is a part of the process and wider industry. That shouldn’t be the case, and wellness for all staff is extremely important at FAMILIA. We regularly allow for mental health days, support staff with an annual budget for training courses, and offer a very competitive annual leave policy.”
As well as the wellbeing of staff, FAMILIA also places great importance on valuing everyone's opinions evenly. “Whoever you are on the team, your voice is welcome on any of our pitches or any of our edit reviews,” Toby says. “We do this because we all have a different pool of references, a different background, a different upbringing. It’s important to get as many voices as possible if you want to deliver authentically varied work that speaks to a diverse audience.”
Innovation Is An Ongoing Quest
In the words of Jony Ive: it’s easy being different, it’s hard being better. “That means understanding that innovation is an ongoing quest towards being better. Not only in how we frame our product, but in how we run our business,” Toby says.
“At FAMILIA we implement future forward ideas: our four values stretch across people, tools, creativity and service. From how we treat and incentivise our team, through diversity, culture and wellbeing, to the cutting edge equipment we use, the future forward creative we produce, and the customer obsessed service we deliver,” Toby explains. “All of this helps ensure that the creative is continually elevated, fresh, exciting, well-crafted and progressive.”
One way they do this is through the introduction of ‘evolution meetings’ - the theory being that evolution is a process by which a species perfects itself, eliminating issues and carrying forward positive traits. “After every single project, regardless of whether or not the director’s a seasoned pro or someone that's just directed their first promo, we sit down and discuss what worked and what didn’t, from an unbiased and constructive perspective. From this, we can make sure we repeat the positives and learn from the negatives,” Toby details. “We are applying this methodology to everything we do - not just our films but our socials, our hiring policy, and more - to perpetually improve ourselves as a business.”
With a strong vision and plenty of action behind his words, Toby sums up: “In the fiercely contested category that we find ourselves in, we just want to focus on being better. To be the most desired production house, both here in the UK and internationally, as delivered by our people, our tools, our service and our creativity. It’s why we started: to create the work we want to see in the world.”