The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Every Detail Matters …

So I’ve not been sacked – yet – which means I feel confident enough to write another post for the week.

About a month ago, as I was flying to LA from Hong Kong, I re-watched the Michael Mann classic, Heat.

Making a movie – like making communication – consists of many elements.

Sure, you need a great story and you need great actors who can bring that story to life … but what really elevates the work to something special is a passion for the details.

Or said another way, the craft of craft.

In simple terms, this means the person heading the project doesn’t just appreciate what they don’t know, but they trust the people around them, who do.

They create the time and space for the broader team to do their best work on their areas of expertise. Encouraging debate and discussion to explore how each member of the team believe they can enhance the goal of the project to even bigger and more exciting places.

I think Heat is an example of this.

While Michael Mann wrote and directed the film, he allowed his expert team to be experts … ensuring every scene was as powerful or as believable as it can be.

There are many things I could highlight …

From allowing De Niro and Pacino to ad-lib their cafe scene because he trusted their talent to make the moment something unique right through to making sure the way the actors left the bank [after they robbed it] mirrored how trained soldiers would leave such a building.

[Apparently that scene is still used by many military organizations as a way to train their soldiers on how to leave a building]

But while those things are good, if you really want to see craft in action – and understand the impact it can have on the final product – then rewatch HEAT and marvel at the sound design of the main gun fight … because despite the movie being over TWENTY THREE YEARS OLD, it still stands out for all its majestic power and still continues to make the viewer feel like they’re actually in the scene.

Details matter.

Talent matters.

Craft matters.


29 Comments so far
Leave a comment

i couldnt fucking sleep. youve just solved it. finally this blog is useful.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s the sort of back handed compliment that could make you a CEO in an American corporation.

Comment by Rob

thats the sort of insult that could get a man killed. but youre not a man so youre fucking safe again. prick.

Comment by andy@cynic

fuck you for writing a post i agree with. craft matters but few fuckers are doing it. or they think their shit diy shit is a masterpiece. im going to sleep and now im going to have fucking nightmares. fuck you campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

I agree … though the lack of craft is so prevalent these days that you only realise how bad things have got when you see the odd piece that has been obviously sweated over by people who know exactly what they’re doing and what they’re trying to make people feel with it.

Comment by Rob

Technically speaking, the time this post came out in the UK means you can’t know if you’ve been fired yet, but you haven’t so it doesn’t matter.

I love this post for many reasons but the main one being how it highlights the importance of craft. I have seen a focus on the idea for years but craft often gets sidelined as time wasting and costly when that is one of the elements that elevates a good idea to great. I think the lack of appreciation of craft within a process highlights the lack of collaboration that companies really practice. Instead of focusing on the end result they just look at what their department is tasked to do. It means no one is working to help the people around them, just themselves. Craft, as you write, matters.

It’s good to have you back.

Comment by Pete

Well given I’ve just posted this [] … you could be right. And wrong. Ha.

I get what you’re saying about collaboration. Of course every part of the process is important, but too many think there’s is the only part that matters and so straight away, you’re in a situation where you regard your colleagues as enemies rather than people who are all committed to making something bigger and better than the individual elements while also valuing the role of each of those individual elements.

Comment by Rob

It’s going to take some getting used to reading your posts at the end of the day but if they’re as good as this one then I can manage it.
Pete highlights why I like this post so much. And your reference to Heat is a good one because apart from being the only time Pacino and De Niro are in a scene together, the gun fight, specifically the sound of the gunfight, is the other thing it’s remembered for. Unsurprising as the actual movie is not as good as people claim, it’s too long for a start.
So craft can make OK appear great and make great be legendary and yet it seems few are willing to give craft the time to work hard for them.

Comment by George

Few brands want to make legacy products anymore. Either because they don’t believe they will attract loyalty or because they are only focused on the short term. Convenience Beats craft 99% of the time now.

Comment by Pete

Has Robert’s return acted as an anger release for you?

Comment by George

You and John Dodds share the same view on Heat. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad.

Comment by Rob

Being right is a good thing.

Comment by John

I can’t get used to you posting in the same time zone.
Now you have a house and a job (for now) can you please sort out Brexit now you’re here
By the way, I’m picturing our eventual coffee meet thing like the Pacino De Niro cafe scene, only without the grown up clothes

Comment by Northern

Have you stopped drinking tea? You may have just broken my faith in humanity.

Comment by George


Who are you and what have you done with Andrew?

Comment by Rob

It’s a figure of speech, of course tea although I do have coffee out if it looks like they won’t be making tea properly
The good news is that I work on Yorkshire Tea now, so I also have an endless supply

Comment by Northern

Wow … that must be like your idea of heaven. In other good news, my wife – an Australian who knows nothing about tea – loves Yorkshire Tea and so should you ever find yourself in our house, you won’t be as disgusted as you thought you’d be.

Comment by Rob

ooh do me a favour, let me know how she found out about it and why she likes it, in exchange for a box of yorkshire gold and biscuit brew…..

Comment by Northern

I drink it too.

Comment by John

You’re rivaling me for your blagging abilities John.

To answer your question Northern, she was given a pack and from then on in, it was all she would drink. We are official ‘converts’, which might actually not be good for your client in the long term.

Comment by Rob

This post brings to mind Steve Job’s “paint behind the fence” story. Pride in what you produce has a value that is often overlooked in favour of economic return when I believe they are inherently linked.

Comment by Lee Hill

Yes craft is crucial, but let’s get one detail striaght. Heat has its moments but it’s a bloated load of nonsense. Way too long and vastly over-rated.

Comment by John

You loved writing that didn’t you.

Comment by Rob

Oh John

Comment by Northern

Didn’t you write about this on instagram a few months ago? Have you finally run out of things to say that you’re recycling your instagram to fill this blog? If that’s the case I can’t wait to see the post that accompanies this photo in a few weeks.

View this post on Instagram

Reading and bizarrely enjoying.

A post shared by Rob Campbell (@robertc1970) on

Comment by DH

How have you got over 3000 people following you on insta? I hope it’s all bots.

Comment by DH

Is that why you joined RGA, to create something that gets you a million followers. Or try to sell Nike a flying car idea.

Comment by DH

Well, that was an added incentive …

Comment by DH

It’s why, amusingly, in one of my old agencies, I could do far better work (and win more new business) with the utterly useless MD than the smart and talented main team.

The MD was so incredibly bad, that they let planning and creative do their jobs, instead of getting overly involved and hindering the process, which happened often when the main smart minds were involved.

Comment by Rob (Other one)

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