April 25th, 2015

D&AD Judging Week 2015 featured a full programme of events, talks and inspiration, celebrating and showcasing the best in commercial creativity. The event brought together 200 of the world’s leading creatives at The Old Truman Brewery in east London to judge over 20,000 pieces of work in 25 categories for the D&AD Professional Awards.

Phil Crowe, ECD of The Mill in Los Angeles, was tapped to join the Film Advertising Crafts jury and select the corresponding winners of the coveted D&AD Pencils.

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What does D&AD mean to you?

I've been aware of the D&ADs ever since I was at art college (Barnsley College, England). I think I can now admit that I even stole the 1994 annual from the library! In the words of Andy Wheater (matte painter, The Mill's LA studio); "To think that 25 years ago you were trying to nick the book, and now you're judging it!"

As a student, D&AD was always the benchmark. I studied Graphic Design and, from that point onward, an accolade from such a great organization has meant a lot to me.

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What were you judging?

Film Advertising Crafts. I spent a week in a room with nine other professionals from varied disciplines, all judging over 1,200 pieces of work.

Were there any trends in this year's work that stood out?

As with anything in the world, there are derivatives; so what's won before can sometimes influence what is entered. I guess that it's a form of flattery. Saying that, there was a diverse body of work entered this year which was great to see.

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What were the key things you were looking for?

We judged first on the strength of the craft and then on how it contributed to the success of the idea. We measured all work against 'The Judge's Charter' which consisted of "the three creeds:

  • The Idea
  • Execution
  • Relevance

  • What separated the good from the very good?

    Separating the good and the very good was actually simple in our group, not least because we had such a broad range of craft specialists representing all areas, from agency producers to directors to animators.

    As the same spots came through, the opinions on those at the top barely changed from the first time they were shown, which is quite something when you're seeing them around 20 times over several days!

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    As a creative, how does it feel being on the other side? Knowing the process, does it shape your opinion when judging others' work?

    Yes - I think in specialist craft subjects, such as VFX and Animation, people should be allowed to submit a 'Making Of' in all award submissions. For instance, I think it's easier to judge how something is traditionally directed and the use of cinematography versus the amount of work that goes into a fully CG creature or a fully animated commercial.

    At the end of the day, arming jurors with a bit more background into those types of work to better educate the judging of the submissions would go a long way. If you know how the spots were made, it's incredible! But if you don't, it's easy to dismiss. VFX carried out beautifully is often invisible.

    Get all the highlights from Judging Week on D&AD's Liveblog and get inspired by the winners with the final Pencil winners announced at the Awards Ceremony on the 21st of May.