The Evolution
of Blink
The work you will see here has been selected on a highly personal basis by me, James Studholme, for these last 28 years Proprietor of Blink.
In some cases it's my favourite or most award winning work but in others just films that I particularly enjoyed the making of or the people involved. In all cases the films were made by any one of the astonishingly talented bunch of directors that have passed through our doors in that time. The finest work of our present generation is displayed elsewhere on this site.

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A bit of History

Blink was born sometime in 1985. The child of Bob Lawrie, a tiny irascible antipodean graphic genius, Blink was quite definitely an animation company back then. Bob had left Australia in the mid sixties at the age of 18 to seek fame and fortune in the UK, having become the biggest thing in book jacket design in Sydney. It was B for Bob and L for Lawrie in Blink, with the ink part being a pun on the principle of film making and the inky nature of graphic design and animation. I joined him later that same year. Our office was at 18 Archer Street Works (a Soho street shady on both sides). Our studio had been purpose built to service the music industry in the days when every theatre, club or bar had live music. Musicians would congregate in the afternoon hoping to catch the eye of a bandleader with work for that evening. The Works were where they got their instruments mended

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We had a table tennis table, a coffee machine and that was about it. In the early days we were either flat out or full stop. We could only do one job at a time, with the attendant gaps in between smoking weed and playing table tennis. We got our first fax machine in 1987. Up until then scripts were biked to us, all budgets were typed in triplicate and either posted or biked to the agency. There were no mobile phones, much less the internet. On shoots in out-of-the way places bags of 10p coins were liberated from the bank and the nearest phone box to the shoot annexed. We had a mad German painter and tracer with purple hair called Christine Anders and an occasional collaborator called Malcolm Bennett whose Hard Boiled Pulp magazine 'BRUTE!' was a cult sensation. Malcolm was memorably fired from his first TV presenting job on Network 7. At the end of a live interview with the famous Page 3 stunner Samantha Fox he finished by saying (in broad Scouse), "Thank you for coming into my slot Samantha, maybe next time I could come into yours".

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The Evolution of Blink
Yorkie
Rock Chunk
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Bob Lawrie 1992
JWT
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‘Rock Chunk’ was shot in July 1992. I think it only got made because every one at Rowntrees thought that someone else would obviously kill it. Assumption makes an ass of you and me. Something like that.

It sprang from the twisted imaginations of David Buonaguidi and Bruce Menzie. It got a blizzard of complaints. Looking back I’m not sure why. It seems so innocent.
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Terrence Higgins Trust
Hopping Pecker
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Simon Fellows 1992
Simons Palmer Denton
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Made by the testosterone-crazed 22 year-old Simon Fellows in collaboration with stop frame genius Andy Staveley at the late 3 Peach. We were whipped ever on by Chris Palmer and Mark Denton (who re-enters our story in due course). They taught me plenty about sheer relentlessness.

The commercial was finished and ready to air when Mark decided it needed a picture frame around it. I’m not sure stop frame is the most sensible medium for NO budget charity films. It took 12 days to shoot. It did win us our first pencil though.
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Guinness
Chain
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Doug Foster 1992
Ogilvy & Mather
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This was the first really good job by Doug Foster, a former Open University trained cameraman who had forged a reputation for brilliance whilst working for the late Cell. He was the doyen of motion control. Simon Learman and Brian Fraser knew he was the right man for the job when he got his graph paper out.

No matter how many times he explained the maths (something to do with exponential moves, farings, loops), I’m still no closer to being able to explain how the hell he did it. Couldn’t be done better even with today’s technology. Doug is now a successful artist and still lives in Milton Keynes.
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Drink Drive
Dave
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Trevor Melvin 1995
DMB&B
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A breakthrough ad for Trevor Melvin. Brought to us by Steve Drysdale and Steve Boswell. The ad won lots of awards and Steve Boswell found a wife.
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Travelocity
Welsh Whicker
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Blue Source 2004
MCBD
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This little gem, voiced by Rob Brydon if I remember correctly and from the pen of the now stratospherically successful Emer Stamp and Ben Tollett, was the highlight of Blue Source’s sojourn at Blink. Emer is from Christow in Devon. My neighbour. There must be something in the water. Alan Whicker was a game old bird.
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Whiskas
Insights
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Ivan Zacharias 1995
M & C Saatchi
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Seasoned creatives looked at me pityingly when I mentioned that we were making a Whiskas Cat Food film with an unknown 22 year old Czech director called Ivan Zacharias. Rather less so once it had won three pencils.

It features the gayest man in Prague and I discovered that Czech animal trainers were not bound by the same rules as our own UK Cat Whisperers. Don’t ask!

This ad was written by Kevin Thomas and Tony Barrie, both of whom have gone on to be successful directors in their own right.
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Exchange & Mart
Below Par
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Mark Denton 2000
Ogilvy & Mather
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Mark brought many brilliant things to Blink during his time here. Not least our wonderful visual identity. A fantastic advertising thinker, persuader and genuine original.

Our first goal was to get him out of the studio where he was in danger of becoming typecast and becoming the verb...to Dentonise.

This insightful script was from those curmudgeonly genii Clive Yaxley and Jerry Gallagher.
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Porn Star

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Mark Denton
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Just had to be made. Obviously. No real good reason, we just felt like it. It features Peter Cocks aka the legendary and banned Mr Spanky, the husband of our one-time receptionist Davina Brunt.
VW Beetle
Smile
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Ivan Zacharias 2001
BMP/DDB
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Can you spot me? Even my tiny cameo cannot ruin this otherwise peerless Zacharias masterpiece. Shot in rather gloomy weather in Great Yarmouth, one of the less salubrious locations enjoyed by Messrs Spivey and Craigen.

The original idea for music was to use ‘Beautiful Freak’ by the Eels but no one asked Mr E until after the ad was shot. He refused permission with the succinct response… ‘Advertising is Satan’.

Got me? I'm on the rollercoaster!
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X Box
Ear Tennis
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Lionel Goldstein 2002
BBH
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This was the only gift to Blink from the sensationally asinine Belgian duo Koen Mortier and Joe Van Houtehem. It grew from a modest 10 second script written by Adam and Saunby.

It was an opportunity too good to miss. Once in Shanghai, we sprang for an extra day and allowed Joe and Koen off the leash. The seventy year-old fixer, the legendary now late Charlie Wang, never knew what hit him. It also has to be said that the Belgians are the only nation to be able to hold a candle to the Chinese at chain smoking.
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Cadburys
Gorilla
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Juan Cabral 2007
Fallon
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The genesis of this project is slightly obscured by the mists of time. It was an idea Juan had had with him for a while and by all accounts researched astonishingly well when posited as a solution to Cadbury's difficulties of the time, post salmonella scare. They havered for ages. Where’s the girl suggestively putting the chocolate in her gob? How could this possibly work?

It features one of the female gorillas created by Stan Winston for ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and yes it really is Phil Collins himself inside it. Of course it is.
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Sony
HD Experiment
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Pleix 2007
Fallon
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Bonkers!
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EIA
Fight Back
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Reeves & Gay 1995
BMP

Made for no money and shot in LA with the only chimp capable of doing this. He was more professional than most human actors actually.

This was the end of the line for Paul and Steve’s producer Soapy Sid James. His receptionist-shagging and nasal refreshment had gotten out of hand, culminating in buying the most expensive bottle of wine in a Hollywood restaurant on a job with no budget. Fired with extreme prejudice.

Trent Reznor liked the film so much he let us use this Nine Inch Nails track for free.
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Birdseye
Pea Car
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Blue Source 2005
BBH
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I was driving back to London from this shoot in deepest Hampshire when I had to stop for a little weep. Wild euphoria on the radio. London had won the right to stage the 2012 Olympics.
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Lynx
Pulse
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Blue Source 2003
BBH
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Going into the shoot, the client hated two things about this ad. The music (went to No.1 for 5 weeks, as per the brief) and the casting of the main guy. His neck was apparently too long. It was a critical hit, especially the casting of the main guy.

We had requests for copies of the ad from couples wanting to learn the choreography for the first dance of their weddings.
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Freelander
Born Free
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Ivan Zacharias 2000
WCRS
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This was a very blessed film. The stars aligned and off we went to Namibia. All the people involved from Les Knight, the legendary client, through to Leon ‘More Champagne’ Jaume, Account Supremo Giles Davis and creatives Andy Dibb and Steve Little were tip toppermost.

Ivan had the whole film in his head within 20 minutes of getting the script and sketched out the storyboard immediately in tiny hieroglyphics. The actor playing the ranger was the Ralph Richardson of South Africa. James May was sent out in a pith helmet to write up the whole adventure for Land Rover Magazine.

One night at 3am there was hard knock on my Windhoek hotel room door. I was confronted by a 6ft dusky lady. ‘I am your prostitute’ she said. ‘Errrrr…..I don’t think you are…’ I shot back blearily. She wasn’t having any of it. After 10 minutes on the phone with reception, we established that she had the right room, just on the wrong floor.
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Capital Gold
Milkman
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Trevor Melvin
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An early award-winning triumph for the Melvinator. The spacehopper was particularly nostalgic for folks of my vintage.
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British Beef
Anniversary
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Trevor Melvin 1997
BMP DDB
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In a moment of blinding clarity I understood that age was not the enemy in advertising. Cynicism and jaundice were. It fell to me to present the casting for this peerless ad to the late great John Webster in his office at BMP. He must have been nudging 60, but he leapt about his office as spryly as a 20 year-old triple jumper, cueing up the casting U-matic with his cassette tape of Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got you Babe’. Once he’d decided on the couple he liked, he must have watched them 20 times, all the while chuckling like a slightly unhinged wizard.

He made great great ads but terrible wine.
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The Golders Green Formation Leaning Team

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Pat Holden 1997
Sacha y Erran Baron Cohen
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I have always strived to positively discriminate in favour of my ginger brethren. So it came to pass one day that I was lunching with the RCKR creative, director manqué and fellow ginge, Pat Holden. He told me this idea and I loved it immediately. It had to be made. It featured an unknown actor called Sacha Baron Cohen and a comedy troupe called ‘The Cheese Shop’.

I never quite knew if Pat was going to kiss me or chin me._
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Birds


Pleix 2006
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With Pleix, great advertising work always followed experimental self-generated projects and Blinkink-produced art pieces. This was the most successful. Dogs flying though the air in ultra slow motion caught the imagination and went viral.
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The Streets
Blinded by The Lights
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Adam Smith 2004
Warner Music
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Probably my favourite video EVER from the house of Blink. Adam Smith, whose Goldie Lookin Chain video ‘Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do’ is also a personal favourite, has gone on to great things. He recently directed the acclaimed Little Dorrit for the BBC.
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Persil
White Shirt
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Dick McNeil 1984
JWT
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From my personal evolution rather than Blink’s. It was the first decent commercial I ever produced and it’s a bit of a milestone in advertising vérité. The director Dick ‘the first straw is usually the last straw’ McNeil was a 1970s firebrand whose combustible brand of client handling was already out of whack by the early 1980s.

The actor, a genuine and generously tattooed skinhead, had only played two parts before: a member of a gang beating up Tucker in Grange Hill and then handing out a kicking to some other unfortunate atop a rubbish dump in a Mike Leigh film.

Muuuuuuuum!
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Heinz 2 Minute Soups
Quick
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Dominic Murphy 2000
Leo Burnett
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Outsider's Fat Bob Campbell and I drove down to Mougins for a celebratory dinner being thrown by Leo Burnett’s CDs Nick Bell and Mark Tutsell, at that exact moment at the very height of their powers. They had briefly managed to transform a multinational behemoth into a raging hot shop. Bob’s Aston Martin had a broken air conditioning system. Less than ideal in record summer temperatures.

We were flagged down and worked over by French police having rather negligently done a runner from an ELF service station. The gendarmes seemed to think we were international terrorists. Eventually it dawned on them that we were just a couple of pale twats in ludicrously baggy shorts who had erroneously presumed that the other had paid for the petrol.

We never got as far as Cannes.

This film won a Gold Lion rather unexpectedly. It didn’t trouble the scorers anywhere else.
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