I’m Sure That’s the Brief

briefly-film

Tom Bassett’s newest film adventure, Briefly, is released the end of this month. The mission of this documentary is to delve into the process of creating the sharp tiny stories which clarify and point towards a project or concept’s purpose as told creative visionaries themselves. Frank Gehry, FAIA, was one of those interviewed. (Anyone attending the Now Next Future Conference in October will be particularly interested in his in-depth process as the “Social Media Boot Camp” takes place at the Gehry Technologies Headquarters in Los Angeles.)
Until “Briefly” is released on Sept. 30, one can view trailer for now. Below is a … ahem … brief conversation had with the director himself.

Tom Bassett

Tom Bassett


Your list of clients is long and impressive, and includes such names as Jeep, Nike, Microsoft. You seem to have a knack or philosophy of making the profound accessible. Can you elaborate on this?

Our philosophy is (literally) painted on the wall of our office. It’s a quote from Einstein: “Everything should always be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Strategy has the tendency to want to get pretty heady if you’re not careful, so we try to make sure the story line is clear and simple. It takes a lot of hard work to not only find meaning, but to simplify things down in a way you can explain to your mother (and she understands).

Courtesy of Bassett & Partners

Courtesy of Bassett & Partners


What inspires you?

Very simply, great creative. Whether it’s a piece of art, a new song, an app, an ad, a building, a beautifully designed object, a new scientific discovery, I am drawn to great creativity like a moth to a flame.

Fluent French; Broken Italian. Any plans to mend the “broken” aspect?

Unfortunately, my Italian has been broken for many, many years. Spanish is the language I need to master to keep up with our 5 year old son who is already fluent.

How was working/talking with Frank Gehry? What is one takeaway you had?

Working with Frank Gehry was phenomenal: he’s very warm, human and endearing. I think the most interesting tidbit I took away from our interview was how hard he still works. He’s 84. Our interview took place in the afternoon, and he was pounding coffee so he could get back to work afterward. When we screened the rough cut with him months later, it was at 4 PM on a Friday afternoon. He went back to work after, then took an overnight flight (private, mind you) to the east coast for a meeting at 10 AM on a Saturday. I’m not sure people who don’t know him well understand his work ethic.

What’s your Brief?

Our Brief is to understand the consumer in the broadest possible cultural context. Too many projects look at the world through the lens of their “thing” versus looking at it first at the cultural level. If you can connect your idea or product or service or whatever through the lens of the broader cultural landscape, the final result will be so much more powerful. So while we look for simple human truths, we aim to frame them within the deeper culture.

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