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10 Questions for our New Commercial Director, Matt Wills

Mar 09 2017

To welcome Matt and indeed showcase some of his well-crafted content archive and heritage licensing skills in Production and Commercial Project Management, we’ve set out a quick Q&A below…


Q.  You’ve got a very impressive back history of broadcast organisations you’ve worked for, from BBC to The Press Association – what’s been your career highlights and ambitions yet to fulfil?

A. As you say I have worked for a lot of big organisations within broadcast and media but the central thing to everything I have done has always been great content. In terms of highlights, I have had the luck to work on some incredible projects with some incredible people – from my earliest days working on Wimbledon and The Open to more recently helping to enable archives like The Firehorse Archive get to market. If I had to pick one of my favourite and satisfying projects to date it was probably my involvement with the acquisition and restoration of The Olympic Official Films. It was hugely rewarding to see these amazing films brought back to life and it is nice to be at R3Store where we have the ambition to embark on similar projects.

Q.  How do you see the Film Restoration and Archive business from a Licensing aspect?  How do brands leverage what they hold (content) into meaningful assets.

A. The footage market has been going through a big process of change over the last 10 years. The shift away from very high prices and restrictive licences has enabled the growth in the use of content. The unfortunate by product to this is, in some cases, the love of the content and the care taken to really research the right content has died away a little. I believe that we are about to see the establishment and growth of niche/boutique content providers who will bring back the love of content and will really know their collection.

In terms of brands and some of their amazing collections gathering dust, I believe there is a huge opportunity to use this amazing archive to tell the story of these brands and use this to engage with customers via social channels. Social channels are driven by video and we see a lot of 2nd rate content published by the second, imagine how powerful it would be to launch a product with additional archive content showing the evolution of that brand/product.

Q.  R3store’s planning to become the dedicated archive film specialist; from curation, restoration, digitization and production, what areas of the production process are under-represented in your opinion?

A. I think currently there is a shortage of high quality affordable archive production available to content owners and brands. There are of course the amazing, high end archive heavy productions – Amy, Senna, etc. but with so much amazing content around there is such an opportunity to use this content to tell compelling stories in a cost-effective way. We at R3Store plan to provide this service to content owners so they can unlock their heritage and take advantage of this amazing resource.


Q.  With the technologically advanced nature and artisan skills in film archive and restoration business, big hitters like Prime Focus and Deluxe UK going out of business – is this a growth market?

A. Absolutely, to my earlier point regarding content licensing – I think what we are seeing is the fragmentation of the market with the growth of true specialists replacing the jack of all trade companies. Previously this industry has seen the big players being everything to everyone but this approach undervalues the personal touch. Looking after film is a complicated process and most projects require an ongoing dialogue between the customer and the restoration house and if you get too big maintaining this personal service becomes very difficult.

Q.  From a commercial aspect, what does this mean for brands and content owners who restore with you, can they co-license or revenue-share what financials gains may be had for sharing this over managed channels?

A. We are always happy to explore any number of different avenues to making a project work. In the past, the structure of the relationship has been very rigid – tell us what you want to restore/transfer, we give you a quote, then you go off and work out what to do with your new shiny content. This process puts so much pressure on the content owner that in the end a lot of these projects never get off the ground. Here at R3Store we have the experience and expertise to take some of this pressure away, whether it is by sharing in the costs of the work in return for some back-end benefit, or as far as licensing on behalf of the content owner and producing finished programming for them. There are numerous ways to make sure the project makes sense for all involved.

Q.  R3store have worked with some pretty big partners and clients already since forming in 2016, can you name a few and some that you’d like to work with on restoration projects?

A. The team here at R3Store have been at the forefront of the restoration business for more years than they would like me to mention here and due to that experience and expertise many of their customers have come to us. In terms of some of the partners we would be keen to work with, being a big sports fan I would love to work with some of the big sports federations again – The IOC, Wimbledon, The FA etc. In addition to that there are some amazing collections built up over the years by some of the big corporate companies and fashion houses that would be amazing to unlock – Shell, BP, Nestle, Dior, Channel etc.


Q.  There seems to be something of a renaissance and revival in 35mm film production from film-makers and directors of late. Can you expand?

A. I think this is the natural way of things – I have recently gone back to vinyl, not because it is easier or cheaper etc. but because it gives a warm fuzzy feeling. I think the same can be said of 35mm film. It just gives you a very different feeling – the world has become too digital in many ways and people want to go back to the original skills and ways of producing amazing art.

Q.  Heritage is an over-used term in our industry, how does this translate to commercial organisations that don’t have employed archivists, historians etc., is there scope for these to use R3store’s services?

A. Absolutely – every organisation that has been around for a while has a heritage and a term that should always be used is “owning your heritage”. If you have access to and control of your heritage you can use it to paint the history of your brand. Here at R3Store we have the expertise and contacts to enable this to happen.

Q.  How do younger studio trainees get a foothold into companies in the digital arts and what would you do given your time again?

A. Perseverance! In addition work out what you really want to do and research it a lot and approach the companies you want to work for in a targeted way, don’t send generic emails to 100 companies.

If I had my time again I don’t think I would do too much differently as I have been lucky to work with a lot of amazing people on a lot of amazing projects.

Q.  List three things you couldn't live without?

1, My family (wife, 2 kids & dog) – have to say that or I will be in trouble!
2, Wine
3, Films & Music!


(Images used are from stock library)