27 May 2021
We sat down for a coffee with our new AOP Affiliated Company member Park Village to find out more about them and the amazing services they offer.
Peter Webb (circa 1967) © Park Village
As a recently joined affiliate can you tell us how Park Village came about?
In the mid 1960s, a flat tyre and a thunderstorm led my father Peter Webb, then an Advertising photographer, to discover a derelict Victorian Riding School on the edge of Regent’s Park. The 10,000 sq ft building which had sheltered elephants and a brown bear named Spitfire when London Zoo was bombed during World War 2, became his photography studios which he lovingly restored and converted over several years. In 1971, Peter picked up a coveted D&AD Black Pencil award for a Hovis Stills campaign and shot the iconic Sticky Fingers Album images for the Rolling Stones. The negatives from the shoot were lost for 40 years until discovered recently in his brother in law’s attic but that’s another story!
Whilst transitioning from photography to film, Peter worked on a Bafta-awarded short film earning him a call from Ridley Scott and an invitation to join RSA. It was here that he met legendary Commercials Director Roger Woodburn and Producer Mike Stones. Together they formed Park Village in 1973, operating from the studios where we remain to this day.
The company has since developed into one of the industry’s most established commercial production companies, recently recognised by D&AD in the top five most awarded of all time. We’ve been honoured to roster some of the industry's great talents and enjoyed making iconic ads that are still talked about today. In fact last month Sir John Hegarty selected Carling’s The Dambusters as one of his top 5 ads of all time. The next step in Park Village’s journey has started with new divisions in stills, experiential and events that work alongside our established film and studio divisions and give our clients a progressive and streamlined 360 production offering.
© Nick Guttridge
What services do you offer to professional photographers?
We have increasingly welcomed professional photographers to Park Village over the last decade, getting great feedback about the working atmosphere within the 3 studios of our uniquely characterful building. With our background in photography, we understand how to curate the best experience for photographers with top facilities including in-house equipment hire and catering, set building capabilities, ultra-fast WiFi and a brilliant, knowledgeable studio team for whom nothing is too much trouble.
Adding to the studios and all they offer is our new Stills division. We have selected some of today’s best talent to work with us in creating commercial, editorial and commissioned work.
The building is also popular with the Events industry. We’ve recently hosted major brand events for the likes of Dom Perignon, Dior and PlayStation, and our involvement with the nearby Frieze Art Fair enables us to open up the studios as an exhibition space and gallery benefiting our photographers. Recent exhibitions have included Chris Levine’s ‘Inner (Deep) Space’ and Karsten Schubert Gallery’s ‘Dialectical Materialism’: British Sculpture since the 1960s.
© Yolanda Y. Liou
What do you offer the others in the creative industries?
Primarily we’re a production house, but we also offer an artistic hub and creative community which can pull on many elements to solve creative problems for our clients. Whilst film and stills are the mainstay of our work, the studio affords us numerous opportunities to adapt our model to benefit not only the creatives we work with, but the wider artistic community. We’ve developed a community page on our website to better highlight the many talents we engage with on a whole range of projects. Solutions to client needs are increasingly centred around assembling the right group of creative talents to work together on a brief. Collaboration is the key to making memorable work.
How has COVID affected Park Village? What measures have you got in place to ensure safety for your clients?
We closed our doors to physical shoots at the end of March 2020, taking the decision with a fashion client to stop a 2-day shoot midway. We spent much of lockdown adapting the studios to offer the safest possible environment for our own productions as well as client shoots. We hosted photographer Phil Fisk, Louise Turner of Flock and producer Liam Bergin for their ‘Separation’ shoot allowing us to put new protocols into place. A few days later we hosted a larger shoot using Live Stream specialists, Raw Capture, allowing the client to remotely access the set from Europe. Styling and wardrobe in the Stalls, catering in the Stables and the main shoot in the Arena allowed for social distancing. We continue to work closely with our H&S partners First Option to ensure we comply with the latest advice.
Why was it important for you to become affiliated with the AOP?
We've increasingly developed our links to the photography world over the past decade and have been lucky enough to host some of the most renowned and exciting upcoming photographers (Miles Aldridge, Alasdair McLellan, David Sims, Chris Floyd, Mel Bles, Mert and Marcus, Bibi Borthwick, Mario Testino, Tom Munro, Steve Harries, Campbell Addy, Colin Dodgson, Johnny Dufort, Tyler Mitchell, Danny Kasirye, Phil Fisk, Angelo Panetta, Nick Thompson, Marius Hansen among many others). Now with the addition of our own stills roster it felt more important than ever to be part of the AOP with whom we share corresponding values and principles.
© Ntando Brown
What’s next for Park Village?
We will soon be announcing some exciting new photographers and are focusing on building the stills roster under the guidance of our Head of Photography, Katy MacGregor (formerly of Blink & Kintzing). We are developing the production setup to support our photographers’ directorial ambitions and offer clients a multifaceted approach, adapting to the changing needs of stills and motion content. It’s very much a collaborative and community vibe here. Alongside our work we are committed to opening up the studios to underrepresented communities and important causes.
Sustainability has been a big focus for Park Village over the last few years both in the studios and on location. We were recently appointed to the steering committee for Ad Net Zero which allows us to play a part in working with the Advertising community to achieve the goal of reaching net zero carbon. Our most recent project for Greenpeace has just gone live, achieving 7 million views in a week and provoking policy change regarding the exportation of plastic waste.