The global pandemic didn't stop our founder, Milana Karaica, find the drive to keep supporting our clients, motivates our team and talent, along with being heavily pregnant. In this candid, yet inspiring chat with Danny Edwards, Milana reveals it all.
What the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?
A touching story that is relevant now more than ever, a time when it's tough to visit our loved ones to share those special moments or just an everyday cup of coffee or tea. Fú is a short film that tells the story of Jia Jia, a young nurse whose pursuit of her career dreams in the big city prevents her from returning to her hometown for the Chinese New Year. Much to the disappointment of herself and her parents. Fortunately, Airbnb's platform is on-hand to help by demonstrating how Airbnb properties can become homes away from home. Adorable animation style and endearing story too.
What websites do you use most regularly?
CNN; I love to be aware of what is happening all around our globe, so this is the quickest way to learn as much as possible first thing in the morning or last thing at night. News at the moment can be quite heavy, and not very inspiring or empowering, so it’s usually followed by a visit to 9GAG, a community sharing literally the BEST WTF photos, gifs, memes, videos... it’s endless!
What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought?
The epic Ninja multi-blender with Auto iQ that is not only much more versatile and robust than the famous NutriBullet, but it’s actually smarter than us! There is nothing we won’t try and blend using this bad boy in my household!
What product could you not live without?
I wanted to say something creative and cool here, but that would be a huge lie as it really is my phone! An extension of my body, and there is no changing that. I love my job and I love people; I am constantly checking in with my team to keep them motivated and going strong, at the same time it’s the easiest way to make sure that family and friends are also within quick and frequent reach.
What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?
I recently watched Man Down, a war thriller which is not something I would normally consider, but it has to be one of the most eye-opening films I have seen for a while. I cried my eyes out, which I very rarely do as I always spend time over-analysing the technical side of movies. I completely forgot about the quality of editing, casting, grade, and all the separate elements, instead I got totally immersed in the heart-wrenching twists of the story. I’m not sure if it made such a big impact on me personally due to my childhood experience during the civil war of the 90s in former Yugoslavia, or the fact that there are so many people who live this reality every single day and we are aware of it so little! Shia LaBeouf gives a truly incredible performance I could have never previously imagined from him.
What film do you think everyone should have seen?
Avatar. It’s a perfect blend of many elements that make for powerful filmmaking, like the clever use of technology to aid the story and not overwhelm it. We have often seen this before, where a film becomes a showpiece for new technology or technique. Avatar offers quite simple yet powerful storytelling that many people around the world can relate to regardless of their background or beliefs. It touches on many sensitive topics in a non-preachy or forced way. I can’t wait to see the sequels, but I’m also a bit anxious as my expectations are unreasonably high.
What’s your preferred social media platform?
Instagram. It helps me quickly flick through artists’ folios, be it to look for inspiration, or to handpick the next talent we would like to invite to join our NERD family. An easy and quick way to keep in touch with friends and family too.
What’s your favourite TV show?
I'm obsessed with Umbrella Academy at the moment. Can’t wait for the new season. Love the nerdy and awkward humour, the non-conventional superhero theme, and just how ridiculous it is, as it doesn’t take itself seriously at all, while it has a certain darkness to it. The diversity of the characters and their ethnicities, which wasn’t done for a box-ticking exercise, is refreshing amongst so many that can’t seem to get this right.
What’s your favourite podcast?
I’m not really a podcast person. I would have time to listen to podcasts only when I drive and it’s difficult to quickly choose something relevant and interesting, so I tend to stick to a few favourite radio stations instead.
What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?
I have been extremely privileged to see the breath-taking animation projection pieces by one of our animation directors, Shay Hamias, for the new masterpiece – POLITICAL MOTHER UNPLUGGED [below], by Hofesh Shechter. There is something incredibly inspiring and motivational in all his work, through powerful visuals, epic music and amazing choreography. Adding animation into the mix, well, it’s my dream come true. Also, Hofesh is a huge advocate for promoting young artists across the globe which is something I do day to day at NERD too, so his work speaks to me on many levels.
What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it?
An increase in awareness for diversity and inclusion. There are a lot more opportunities for women, young talent, and talent from under-represented backgrounds. When I started out, I hardly came across any kind of diversity. Racism was the norm, and seen as comedic, which was shocking but also extremely difficult to swallow day to day.
If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?
We still have a long way to go before talent is given real equal opportunity and we are truly diverse enough to represent and speak to our global audiences on a relevant level. If there was a button to speed the process up, what I wouldn’t give to press it.
Who or what has most influenced your career?
The need for change, equality, and care for craft. When I started NERD Productions my mission was to contribute to this in every shape and form possible. Nurturing and empowering diverse talent is no easy challenge, but it has changed the course of many incredibly talented individuals’ careers, which makes it all worth it. I hope that more agencies and creatives want to become that person who is responsible for changing the course of a young or under-represented director’s career. That’s an incredible legacy to leave behind in the industry, to retire knowing that we helped the movement and left a positive impact on a world we were all a part of for so long.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.
I have spent the last few months in isolation, like all of us, but I am also heavily pregnant. Being an EP, you learn how to deal with anything and everything that can be thrown at you, from practical challenges to timings and logistics. The unexpected and the emotional side too, in order to make the best possible craft that you, your director, agency and brand can together be proud of. [I was] running a production company, supporting clients and keeping our talent motivated, all the while having to worry how to eat healthily 17 times a day, shop for baby stuff, take mummy classes, do endless Zoom calls while getting jabbed in the ribs and, let’s not forget, facing a global pandemic as the cherry on the cake! There really is no limit to what we can do if we set our mind to it!