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Putting the story in advertising

Alison Farmer talks about working on the business as a couple, the joy and terror of freelancing in the New Zealand market, and how she balances the PhD student / business-woman dichotomy.
Wrap photo at end of Victoria 2014 campaign.
Inside a prison in Arkansas. Alison's interviewing a volunteer for Prison Fellowship.
In this audio interview Ande Schurr talks to Emmy-award winning documentary producer Alison Farmer. A must listen for PhD students, documentary and corporate video producers.


When Emmy-award winning documentary producer Alison Farmer says she can achieve in one week in NZ what it takes six months in the US to do, you know things aren’t so bad 'down under'.

This audio interview by Ande Schurr is a must listen for PhD students, documentary and corporate video producers.

* * *

When Alison Farmer left the United States to start anew in New Zealand with her documentary photographer and DOP partner Simon Clark, they established FarmerClark, a production company that specialises in telling stories about real people.
“I’ve transferred a lot of the skills needed - ability to research, to find the right stories, to spend time with people and not rush in - I think that those skills are transferable”.

Focused on real stories and the natural expression of the brand in question, without the forced narrative so common in traditional advertising campaigns, their production company has produced campaigns for a number of brands including Speights, BNZ and Victoria University.

Listen to the interview as Alison describes working on the business as a couple, the joy and terror of freelancing in the New Zealand market, and how she balances the PhD student / business-woman dichotomy.

FarmerClark’s bespoke approach is generating interest through Alison’s well researched storytelling and interviewing skills mixed with Simon’s photographic flair and creative cinematography.

Having worked with them both, and spent time traveling and watching them work I was immediately impressed with their communicative and transparent approach to working together.

She makes the comment that she has achieved more producing in a week in NZ than six months in the US such is the complexity of bureaucracy she has to manoeuvre through versus the direct line, or at the most two degrees of separation, that NZ is known for.

Also a PhD candidate, researching the problems of communicating health messages to indigenous populations, Alison has come to understand New Zealand’s cultural situation and needs patiently.

“I really wanted to create a film that was created in collaboration with a community.“

Previously in the US she worked on indigenous participatory projects - with Native American and Hmong populations and, now in NZ, she brings her interest to the Maori and Pacific community.

It’s this quest to balance her personal and academic passion-projects with the demanding commercial workload of FarmerClark that allows her to maintain her edge.

It’s easy to become a little bit jaded so I’m always trying to remind myself that the biggest gift people give you is their time”

Armed with Simon’s lifetime of commercial photography and cinematography, with her nous of finding the story, they are an example of a new wave of production companies that tell real stories for those brands who see the value in keeping it real for their customers.

FarmerClark Showreel V2 from Simon Clark & Alison Farmer on Vimeo.

Written by

Ande Schurr

29 Oct 2014

Corporate video producer and production sound recordist now based in Singapore after a 15-year career in New Zealand. Video clients incl. universities, tech startups, medical clinics and business consulting agencies. Sound clients incl. Netflix, Discovery, BBC, National Geo.

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