Our world is vastly different than it was just a couple of months ago. Though we might long for the “good old days” the way forward is through embracing change and redefining ourselves and our interaction with it. When done with a clear goal and with creativity, it’s possible to achieve something spectacular; Alastair Ramsden is already proving this. As the Executive Producer of 21st Street Creative LLC, Ramsden is known for his progressive and proactive approach to entertainment. At the very forefront of the rapidly evolving entertainment industry, Ramsden is a pivotal part of redefining the modern mode of storytelling. His keen understanding of what speaks to audiences partnered with a deep embrace of “what could be” is notably one of the most imaginative and exciting approaches today. From high-end commercials to long-form series, Alastair is charging forward with productions that most of his peers are still attempting to conceive of. Clairvoyant might be too strong a term but there’s no question that Alastair is able to see the future…because he is creating it.
Key to Alastair’s success in the industry is his search for new possibilities. A good producer facilitates but a great producer envisions what could be. When one of Ramsden’s producing partners showed him an energy drink commercial starring Ezekiel “Blue” Mitchell, the only black bull rider in the Professional Bull Riding League’s Top 50, Ramsden thought to himself, “Ezekiel would be perfect for a Snapchat Docu-series.”Yes, THE Snapchat with nearly 2 billion dollars in revenue! Alastair put together a pitch for the tech platform giant which related Ezekiel’s fascinating life and road to the PBR finals in 2020. Snapchat was so excited by the idea that they instantly stepped up with the development money to produce a casting reel in North Carolina. The treatment and reel which Alastair created resulted in Snapchat ordering a full ten-episode season of “Life by the Horns.” While there is an initial intrigue concerning a black man who is in the PBR top 50, competing in a sport so dominated by white male competitors, “Life by the Horns” is very much a personal story. Ramsden, who began his career as an AD in long-form productions and then started 21st Street Creative (where the focus was on two-minute stories), has a deep insight into cultivating emotion. He relates, “I think Snapchat was sold on our casting reel because we are presenting a world that a lot of young people don’t know about. Ezekiel is kind of like our ingénue, learning how to handle the size and scale of the future before him. In the upcoming season, we will see him personally explore themes of brotherhood, loss, and bravery on an intimate level, whilst competing in one of the ultimate high-stakes sports in which the outcome is often life or death. Snap loved the balance of what we found here in Ezekiel and his friends: a visually exciting world, and one overlooked by a younger, modern audience. When my producing partner and I brought this idea to Director Trevor Paperny, he was thrilled by the idea of crafting a story that strikes a fine balance between his commitment to the highest quality storytelling, and a bold and original platform that has torn up the rule book on how to do it.”
For a very different type of sports-themed production, Alastair was brought aboard as a producer on Chasing Gold for Mile 44 which specializes in the communication strategy and production of elite athletes and sporting personalities worldwide. This ten-part series documents three-time Gold Medal Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings on her way to qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Since the cancellation of the Olympics, the story has been altered but the show was so intriguing that it was acquired by LeBron James’ production company Uninterrupted Content for expansion. This longer format form of the show has been pitched to Hulu, NBC, HBO Max, and others.
While projects like the aforementioned are based on capturing the emotional journey of the main characters, some projects require a heightened degree of engineering to elicit the desired response. Alastair produced a suite of commercials for the job search company Indeed(Canada’s #1 source for job applications and interviews) which was transmitted in both English and French Canadians. With separate versions (60 seconds, 30 seconds, and 15 seconds) that needed to possess a similar emotional impact, the producer procured a specialized multimillion-dollar BOLT to enable this. He describes, “The director and I broke down the script and discussed both casting and location options. Titled ‘Bread’, one of the main themes of this spot is the passage of time and how patience, strategy, and hard work parlay into success. Bread is a fundamental example of that. You need all of the above in the right quantities to make it come into being. And the best way for us to showcase the passage of time and the persistent nature of this kind of business was through time-lapse. There are many ways one can shoot time-lapse, but ultimately it is a formulaic equation that requires the consideration of three factors: event duration, clip length, and shutter speed. The Bolt is an incredibly intelligent crane-like piece of technology that allows us to control all three over and over again with zero deviation. In actuality, the BOLT allowed us to save a great deal of money and time as it saved dramatically in other areas and resources. Recognizing these opportunities and engineering the best path is the real skill of producing.” “Bread” is undoubtedly captivating to the eyes but more importantly, materializes the confidence and security that both employers and applicants find reassuring.
Indeed ‘Bread’ 60 from Al on Vimeo.
For the launch of skincare brand Mirage (backed by China’s $40 Billion pharmaceuticals giant Mebo), worked with Tyler Barnett PR to create a high-end flagship commercial for social and digital channels while also fully compliant with US advertising standards and regulations for broadcast transmission. This US launch was intended to challenge the likes of La Mer and others already long established in the American market. From locations and VFX/CG to casting and quality control, Alastair delivered a final product focused on an international approach, notably with the new face of Mirage in Lisa Dillon. An insightful producer is one who enables a brand to discover who they are. Titled “The Dance”, this advertisement has established Mirage’s base as the international woman with the innate ability to be present at the moment.
Writer: Cecil McCoy