pslondon | In conversation with Nick Scott, Creative Director

Nick Scott, Creative Director

1 March 2023

Kendra RogersHead of Insight & Strategy 375 6465

Focusing the lens on our sister agency Studio Hansa (part of the psLondon group) I sat down with Creative Director and Filmmaker Nick Scott to uncover the brand's journey. Weathering the storms of unpredictability and standing true to their integrity and what they do, I wanted to take it back to the beginning and start with what Studio Hansa is all about.
NS: Studio Hansa has evolved over the years, and we’ve finally settled on the best iteration that I feel describes Studio Hansa – Truly Moving Content. Led by ideas and stories, we work across film, animation and design with a digital and social-first approach. We’ve also increasingly engaged in branded content, broadcast series, and some of our self-initiated short films have achieved significant traction and acclaim both domestically and internationally.

Historically, we have been able to genuinely create real quality in pure narratives across live-action, 2D and 3D animation. Things like real-time rendering via Unreal Engine are very much in our focus, and we’re keenly engaged in things like how AI powers workflow.

"This is the type of work we’re super proud of, but the fact it really is making such a difference is as much of what it’s all about."

Our arsenal of ways to visualise those stories grows as our disciplines grow (often by embracing tech innovation).

Our ethos of Truly Moving Content was never more powerful than in our recent rebrand of Ukraine’s national broadcaster Suspilne – which our sister company psLondon helped devise the strategy for (Suspilne means ‘public’). This project started before the Russian invasion but carried on despite it being under the direst circumstances. This was a huge testament to our brave clients, but helping their brand get the news out to the world when all eyes were on them really ticked the Truly Moving Content ethos on so many levels. It’s unbelievably humbling yet also, shows the potential power of what we do. Suspilne increased its audience's trust, which since the rebrand has grown to around 85%. This is the type of work we’re super proud of, but the fact it really is making such a difference is as much of what it’s all about.

I find Studio Hansa’s work fascinating, but their ethos and values are what truly make it so special. As Nick was part of Studio Hansa from the start, I wondered how it all came to fruition and the reality of building this brand.

NS: The origins of Studio Hansa started with a joint vision between myself and a Strategist/Managing Director. Unfortunately, he got seriously ill and had to leave the business, which was a challenge, as we recognised the plans we laid out for Studio Hansa fundamentally had to shift.

A few positive takeaways from this experience were that he got better, which really is the most important thing, and we learnt a lot on the journey. We evolved as a business through the challenges by being agile and adapting which enabled us to learn very quickly.

"Handling serious adversities was a steep learning curve for Studio Hansa. That was the reality. It would have been very justified for us deciding to shut shop and do something else but somewhere inside I still believed in the Studio Hansa potential to unite great people to make great work by creating Truly Moving Content."

Hansa’s unshakable skill for adaptation, agility and resilience is a true testament to the foundations laid by Nick and his team. Speaking of foundations, I was particularly interested to see where their name came from.

NS: The story behind our name is quite interesting and was named by my former business partner. Hansa stems from medieval times and a trading alliance across Northern Europe called The Hanseatic League.

The essence we took from it was that they traded fairly, protected each other, and formed alliances, which was our inspiration as we wanted to do the same. Not only to create the best work, but also to work with viable partners that wanted to invest in creativity and not see it as a pure commodity. This essence is something we pass on to our team on the journey with us – it still holds true that the best and most successful work we create (visually and in terms of metrics) is frequently an alliance based on trust from clients – jobs like Suspilne that I mentioned previously attest to this.

More of a fun fact about the name, although I am a David Bowie fan, I didn’t really know about Hansa Tonstudio in Berlin (which I'm sure a lot of people do). We've had a few emails and people asking us about recording in our studio, questions about David Bowie... but I’d just like to set the record straight that we are not that Hansa! Over the years, however, we have forged our own niche, and people know us as Studio Hansa.

"If you're going to be recognised for working with aspirational people or brands, you probably have to be perceived as doing aspirational work yourself. That's also a quality-driven inspiration from the Hanseatic league that inspired the Studio Hansa name."

I totally don’t think this should be ego-driven, but it is sometimes surprising that certain brands or individuals don’t see the irony in questioning the financial investment in the ethos, identity, and story of a brand they are building, but expect to be perceived as aspirational by customers or audiences. Almost without exception the brands that get ahead question this less time and time again.

I found this to be a wonderful origin story and love the rationale behind the Hanseatic inspiration. It holds such high integrity and is an important part of Hansa and ps alike, which makes it a great collaboration.

NS: It’s exciting to think about the union with psLondon and where we’ll be in the next 3-5 years.

The word 'rigour' aligns with our approach at both Studio Hansa and psLondon – there are so many skill sets that really plug directly into both parties, again the incredible Ukrainian opportunity with Suspilne shows that.

There’s a common set of goals between Studio Hansa and psLondon – the first and foremost goal is to be inquisitive and do the best work we can; in the right spirit, without arrogance.

I think the duty of care we apply to what we do but also to look after ourselves and our teams has been a great strength – we’ve really benefitted from this via courses, D&I, neurodiversity sessions and more.

It’s important to eradicate any sort of toxicity - much of which can also come from yourself – especially with the bombardment of running a business. Being able to have time, clarity and self-awareness is crucial. Knowing how to help yourself can be a tool to know how to help others – teams, clients and so on.

Brilliantly put. I wanted to pivot a little and talk to Nick about filming. As he is a film extraordinaire, I was curious about how he got started.

"I was always interested in filming and ideas. I was drawn to the way that design was a way to deliver your ideas quite quickly."

NS: I studied design in Leeds and had always been interested in design.

My early days were in the “.com bubble” which was a fertile time, people were really open to creating and rethinking old constraining silos of what companies were, for example; “You're a design company, you’re an ad agency, a production company”. The democratisation offered by accessible technology made things a bit freer. It's been a journey of extrapolating that, but I still love the simplicity of words, concepts, writing and sketching etc.

My journey stemmed from that and my ambition to challenge myself to do bigger things, gaining more trust and responsibility.

Being passionate, ambitious, and resilient in his journey, I wondered if Nick is very comfortable outside his comfort zone.

NS: Yes, I suppose creatively, I am. There are still moments when you fear things might go wrong, and you are caught in the middle of it.

I see it as time served well. Even fairly recently I’ve still deliberately chosen to push myself in challenging endeavours such as my autonomous self-penned and funded films that have done great things and numbers around the world.
 Harnessing the ability to tolerate discomfort outside your comfort zone is crucial to growth. But I don’t think it ever feels easy, that’s the point. What was once scary becomes the new normal.

It's the new things beyond the horizon that scare you and then become the fresh fertile lands of growth which require you to conquer your fears. That will always be the challenge.

Coming to terms with that is the goal – and that in and of itself is still a practice that requires ongoing diligence.

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