Profiling Peckham Levels: Brother Film Co.

We spoke with Brother Film Co, the family that produce our favourite campaigns and ads!

“Other companies say they are like a family, we actually are one,” says the strap-line of Brother Film Co.’s ‘A Bit About Us’ section. The founders behind the creatively-led production brand are in fact three brothers – Marcus (Big Brother), Luke (Middle Brother) and Hugo Ellingham (Little Brother). The trio later turned into a quartet when university friend Adam Holmes joined the dynamic team. The family-orientated production company are infamous for “making films, composing music and flying drones” – their words not mine. Followed by avideo that highlights their story to success, the brothers who were always passionate about making skate videos on VHS, polished and transformed their skills into the now burgeoning company. Since their start-up, they have worked with the likes of Red Bull, McLaren, National Geographic, Nike, and are widely-acclaimed in their field.

We met the quartet at their Peckham Levels studio  to speak business, creative process and more with the successful but very much normal “family. Here’s what they had to say…

What is Brother Film Co. and how did it start?

Brother is a film and music production company. We make videos and sounds for all sorts of brands, from McLaren and National Geographic through to Dr. Martens and Nike. Brother started from a hobby really – Marcus, Luke and Hugo were playing around with cameras and making skate films as kids and it just grew from there. Skate films and family videos turned into the odd thing here and there for local companies, and now we’re 6.5 years into running a fully operating production company.

Here are a couple of films about who we are and what we do:

The Story of Brother-  https://vimeo.com/261977029
Brother Music – https://vimeo.com/309924570

What is it like working with each other? (and Adam)

It’s funny – so many people we meet mention that it must be weird working with your brothers, or that they could never work with their siblings. Like any company there are tricky conversations and disagreements, but ultimately it’s always felt completely natural to us – we get to work with people we know really well and already choose to spend lots of time with outside of work.

What does a usual day entail?

I’m not sure we have a usual day! I guess our days are relatively equally split between office days and shoot days. Office days tend to be a bit more consistent – maybe a meeting with a client about a film, or meeting a local filmmaker and hearing about their work. Then there’s answering emails, quoting for projects, creative sessions, planning the future of the business – and finally editing our films and composing/sound design for both our projects and for other production companies and directors.

Shoot days are much less consistent – one day you could be at the top of a rainy Scottish mountain on a fortnight-long filming trip, and the next day you could be in a school hall in Kent filming a music video with 10 hyper school kids. And that was just last month!

Individually, what has been your favourite project and why?

Marcus – A project for Kettle Chips in Modena, Italy last summer. This is one of our most scripted and directed films to date, and it was really cool to see something so specific go from storyboard to real life. Kettle and the creative agency (Joint London) are both awesome so it was just a brilliant collaborative project which went exactly to plan. The Italian hospitality and wine-filled lunches didn’t hurt either! https://vimeo.com/283411704

Luke – A film for Red Bull Racing in Azerbaijan. We spent a week in Baku ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last May, filming Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo race old Soviet 4×4’s in the desert. It was one of the biggest and most ambitious shoots we’ve ever done, in a country we’d never been to, with a cast that included 100 sheep, and with a 24-hour edit deadline. It’s still one of my favourite things we’ve made. https://vimeo.com/267563199

Hugo – One that sticks out is a project with Cartoon Network to promote their show Ben10 and a toy watch they were releasing at Christmas. We made a spoof luxury watch advert with Spencer Matthews (from Made in Chelsea) and a fake ‘making-of’ film which ended up getting quite a lot of press. It was just so different to anything we’d done before and we got real creative freedom to just make a really genuinely funny thing. https://vimeo.com/300694502

Adam – As part of a series of films for phone case brand LifeProof, we got to spend a week just outside of Paris filming a skater, bmxer and wakeboarder making an old abandoned waterpark their personal playground. We built a quarter pipe from scratch, created launch ramps on rooftops and rode jet skis. It was as ridiculous and as fun as it sounds! https://vimeo.com/253267762

What is your creative process?

That really does depend on the particular project. Each time is different because the setup of our clients can vary so much – we work with brands directly, and also with other creative agencies, ad agencies and production companies. We then adapt to best work with them on the project – some of our clients might have a strong in-house creative marketing or content team, whereas others may not have anyone who fulfills that function, so what they need from us is different.

I guess the one thing that’s consistent is that none of us is the “lead creative”. We are all creative people and thinkers, and will all have an input on everything we produce. Each project might have a different level of input from each of us depending on what it is, but we tend to work best when we are all building an idea together.

The videos you create are authentic, funny and reflective of everyday life. Is that your aim for all your projects?

Thanks! Yeah I guess so, although I don’t think it’s as conscious a decision as that makes it sound. I think first and foremost we aim to always make films and music that we’d want to watch or listen to ourselves – hopefully a good litmus test of whether what we’ve produced is actually any good!

Do you plan to pass on your business to the next generation of brothers/sisters? (sons and daughters)

That is definitely something we’ve not talked about yet! But it’s cool to think that Brother would be around long enough for that to happen – we might just nick that idea, thank you.

Anything exciting coming up? (collabs, projects, etc).

Aside from some very exciting filming projects that we can’t talk about (!), we run a Facebook group called Peckham Filmmakers for local creatives. There are around 450 of us and counting – we share kit, promote new work and collaborate with one another as well as organise monthly meet-ups. There are a few exciting events in the pipeline (our latest was a screening of award-winning documentary Three Identical Strangers, plus a Q&A with the Peckham-based director and producer) so if you’re local look us up!