I'm quite inspired by American Chopper at the moment. A small team having to come up with an off the wall idea and then trying to engineer it. I love it - and there's a clear analogy, though Franki is scarier than Paul Snr. I'm just waiting for some budding documentary maker to approach us.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I graduated in 1999 from Glasgow School of Art, took a job at SAS in London, learned a lot but wanted to work on more creative projects.
Luckily I had the opportunity to work with Mr Jonathan Green (aka Jonny) in Venice on a film website for Mike Figgis and from that went on to set up F&J from his bedroom (Jonny's not Mike's).
It was slow going at first but thanks to the support of some great directors and producers (not to mention some hard work) we are now a 6 strong agency working with some of the highest profile film makers and distributors in the British film industry across titles, print and online campaigns.
I graduated in 1992 from Birmingham University with a degree in Philosophy and Computing. I then did a Masters in Cognitive Science. Essentially, I'm a programmer, but have always sought a creative outlet for that.
The most liberating thing about a computing background is the freedom to move into any industry. So I worked in post production, then moved into design before being fortunate enough to meet Mike Figgis and that was the start of it.
What do you do for inspiration?
Galleries, good books and Eye magazine are all obvious answers but the best ideas come from getting a great film to work on and brainstorming with everyone in the office.
I'm quite inspired by American Chopper at the moment. A small team having to come up with an off the wall idea and then trying to engineer it.
I love it - and there's a clear analogy, though Franki is scarier than Paul Snr. I'm just waiting for some budding documentary maker to approach us.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
That we didn't do:
That we did do:
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Winning a BAFTA Interactive for 'Trauma' last year
What software couldn't you live without?
My brain or is that hardware?
Well, Flash is the obvious one I guess. I'm pretty dependent on TextMate as well - it's difficult to go back to other editors now.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
A very exciting 18 month long online project to support Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of The Magic Flute - part 1 launching sometime this year.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Hmmm... that's hard.
GBH, Graphic Thought Facility and De-construct?
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
The road outside is quite congested these days - we might be responsible.
Who is your target audience?
Depends on the film but we keep getting briefs referencing the 'SmartHouse' crowd... makes me cringe but I suppose them.
What area of web design lacks the most?
Typography, Typography, Typography.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Yes, buried deep in the guts of Channel 4 site is a website called 'Hotel' it was the first time Jonny and I ever collaborated and it still one of the best things out there on the web (in my humble opinion).
An on location website, updated every day from the shoot of the film in Venice.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
No, but never say never... maybe a typographic romance novel?
No, and I will say never.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
I don't code at all - I just come up with ideas and designs that make coders life a misery.
Everything the designers give me is tough and they wouldn't have it any other way.
Though I guess the most difficult thing recently has been a CMS we've developed that builds dynamic Flash sites as well as simple HTML/CSS.
The rewarding thing about programming in Flash is seeing a visual result, though this was seemingly endless amounts of development just tracing to the output window.
It's most successful application so far is probably the Momentum Pictures site
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Well I haven't seen Sparkle yet and with Microsoft's reputation for lightweight, secure, innovative, easy to use and efficient software... yes, Flash is here to stay.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
This is an issue very close to my heart as I teach at Glasgow School of Art, which is a highly creative and conceptual design course run by Steve Rigley.
I believe it is very necessary to have had a design education, and by that I mean good typographic grounding, lots of drawing (with a pencil or a pen... on paper) and being encouraged to experiment with the challenges of refining and communicating your own ideas before having to interpret client based problems or learn all the filters in Photoshop.
Computer skills can be learnt on the job, but I think the Art School environment is the best place to learn how to conceptualise, experiment, make mistakes and find out what you are good at.
I can draw horses (and never had any training).
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Doing a good job for one client and letting them tell other people. Also schmoozing at film festivals is very effective. (well, that's our excuse for going to them anyway!)
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I was very lucky in the design education that I had in Glasgow (see above).
There were some very talented people I met through my first job from whom I learnt a great deal but I actually think working on my own at the beginning of F&J was the thing that accelerated my skills.
As the buck stopped with me, I could no longer default to other people, it made me more hungry to source feedback and inspiration from wherever I could get it and it made me a hell of a lot faster.
Advice is hard, choose a field you are good at, work hard, and remember that there is a difference between making design decisions and developing a concept. Making something pink is fine, but it's not an idea.
Are you a designer or a programmer? Make up you mind and focus. Each is a vast area with different skills and disciplines required.
We had a guy e-mailing us about a placement saying he was looking to further his experience of databases and branding. I mean, why should both these skills be found in one person?
I know it's not a popular view, and probably won't go down well here, though I've rarely met individuals who can both design and code to a high level. Give yourself a chance by specialising.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
We took the company to Cannes and spent a lot of money on pink wine, also we just bought a 17" MacBook Pro for me, which is nice.
Probably a posh cheese sandwich. I've got to start paying for the wine and her MacBook.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I am a woman, and I don't 'Flash'
It's sweltering in here right now and my option would be just my Y Fronts (M&S). Though the problem with not working out of my bedroom anymore is that it's sadly no longer an option.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Never trust a web designer
If you're doing it for the money it's probably not worth doing
It's been a privilege, thanks very much.