Q&A WITH OLLIE HESTER, PRODUCER, 59 PRODUCTIONS
TELL US ABOUT 59 PRODUCTIONS - WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO:
59 Productions is an award-winning design studio and production company based in London and New York. Our focus is on ‘story driven design’ – finding new ways of telling original stories through innovative design.
IN A YEAR OF INCREDIBLE CHALLENGES, CAN YOU SHARE SOME POSITIVE NEWS THAT’S HAPPENED FOR 59 PRODUCTIONS OVER THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
We’re very fortunate to work across a number of the sectors that make up the creatives industries - collaboration is at the heart of all we do.
There are a couple of highlights that stand out for me from the last 12 months. First, 'Kuwait Calling' - our last truly ‘live’ experience before the pandemic hit. This was a trailblazing international collaboration between us, the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cultural Centre in Kuwait and the UK’s leading contemporary dance company, Rambert. The production combined dance and music with live motion-capture and architectural-scale projection mapping to tell the story of Kuwait in a bespoke, re-purposable auditorium suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
Second, 'Here' - an immersive VR piece based on Richard McGuire’s ground-breaking graphic novel of the same name. We conceived and created this piece, working with composer Anna Meredith MBE and collaborating with Intel Studios to capture it at their volumetric studios in Los Angeles. The piece tells the story of one room throughout all of time and we premiered the first chapter of it at the 2020 Venice Film Festival last September.
WHO SHOULD HAVE 59 PRODUCTIONS ON THEIR ‘ONES TO WATCH’ LIST?
Any organisation that would like to tell an original story through innovative, compelling design!
We started out making theatrical work for some of the world’s greatest venues including the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, The Metropolitan Opera and the Salzburg Festival. We’ve since become renowned for creating spectacular public artworks, projection-mapping some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including the Sydney Opera House, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Washington Monument and the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
These days, we also produce live events, ceremonies, exhibitions, virtual and mixed reality experiences. The variety and diversity of our output allows us to bring a unique, multidisciplinary approach to each project that we work on.
WHAT NEW OR EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT RIGHT NOW AND WHY?
For us, it’s all about the continuing convergence of multiple technologies. We’ve seen a seismic shift in the last 12 months in the adoption and acceptance of so-called ‘hybrid’ productions, whereby the integration of the real and virtual worlds from the very outset of a project is now no longer seen as wildly ambitious.
We find our collaborators are increasingly interested in commissioning such work and then using it as a foundation from which to develop additional outputs, such as online broadcasts, virtual reality experiences and associated interactive content.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR 59 PRODUCTIONS OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?
Our work relies on international, cross-cultural collaboration and so the ability to continue to export our services without friction will be essential in the coming months.
Likewise, as is the case with much of the creative industries, our output is reliant on the live, in-person experience, so the reopening of travel will be essential, especially any measures that may ease that experience such as mutual vaccine recognition between countries.
WHO IS ON YOUR ‘ ONES TO WATCH’ LIST AT THE MOMENT AND WHY?
We frequently collaborate with Wonder Works - they’re a team of fantastic problem-solvers who help to come up with creative solutions to technical hurdles across a wide variety of projects.
Tony Award, Olivier Award
London & New York
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