We sat down with the Filmmaker and Animator Zoé Henriques at Mortimer House — an Art Deco co-working space situated in the heart of Fitzrovia — to find out about his creative processes.
“When you’ve got a good idea going you’re glued to the page, you’re in the groove and you can just feel it.”
So to begin, how did you get your first creative job?
It was actually pretty straightforward. I already had a few jobs under my belt and after college just went to a regular interview, showed my work and they liked it and picked me up.
Have you ever had a creative block?
Of course! We all do. I try to get past it by working through it — doing little things that make it hopefully fade away. If it’s a really big block, I find that the best way to deal with it is to take a step back.
How would you describe your creative process?
It’s changed over time and it depends on what I'm doing. For example, if I'm working on a video I will storyboard the graphics and then go through the different stages with the client. It’s different steps for the different materials I need to produce but there is always a method of sorts.
Do you know how you end up with your best ideas?
For sure — usually it's attached to being in the right space for the right amount of time to figure out the problem at hand. And you always know when you’ve got a good idea going — you’re glued to the page, you’re in the groove and you can just feel it.
Is there such a thing as too much freedom when it comes to a brief?
I think there can exist too much freedom — you always need boundaries after all. You need to know what you want out of the brief because otherwise you won’t get what you need because otherwise you might want a drama but end up with a comedy. So both you and the client need to know what everyone wants out of the work.
What sort of brief resonates with you?
It depends, if it’s commercial work for clients then it is about meeting their needs and expectations. But in general terms I would always hope that the brief is interesting to me and rhymes with the work I would be doing outside of it.
Do you have any side projects?
Yes — I’ve always believed that it is very important to have side projects. When you work with a client you always try to give them the thing that they want (which is why a brief is important!), but when you work for yourself you are doing it as a gift to you. There’s a lot of power in that and it’s extremely important creatively.
Tell us about some of the things you are working on on the side.
So I’m currently working on a couple of short films. One’s a mockumentary and the other is a live action. The latter is mixed media, with live action and 3D animation elements with robots and stuff.
The power of side projects though is what you learn while doing them. Creating short films has given me real clarity around how to tackle projects like this and solve all the challenges they throw at you along the way.
Like how mixed media is very expensive! You need a lot of time and money to get it done. This can be in the form of funding, or you have to dedicate a lot of your time and own money into getting it done. So with projects like that you learn how to balance speed, funding, time — and it can be quite a difficult juggling act to pull off.
So I’ve learned how long a project will take, and which ones I can take on when and where. Sometimes this means more smaller projects, with less time spent at fewer locations, that require less people. I’ll probably be sticking to animation for a while after this project…
If you’re creating content for a specific platform how important do you think it is to be active on that platform?
I think you need to know the media and have had contact with it. But I don't think you need to be always active — you might end up with a myopic view of it. What you do need to know is the brand, that is always crucial.
What advice would you give to future creatives who are just starting out in their career?
Have fun, because that's one of the things with this industry is that sometimes your work never sees the light of day. So always keep a level of playfulness about it, because at the end of the day, that’s what’s important.
What advice do you have to creatives who need to pitch their ideas to clients?
Always aim for something that the client likes, you also like and most importantly answers the brief. If you get all of these things then you can do whatever you want.
What about having a bit of ego?
I think when you're younger you always have more ego which isn’t necessarily a good thing. But at the same time, you should always go into a project with a level of confidence because ultimately if you're not confident something is wrong.
What makes you most proudest about your film creation?
I like the ability to create something without ever having to ask someone if this is good or bad. And that I was able to create a connection with them on my own merit. This is why having a side project is so important, to be able to explore the real you in the realest way.