It’s the end of an era in the brand film industry as the company that was Jacaranda Productions is liquidated – but the business, now branded Psona Films, is alive and kicking.
Jacaranda was a pioneer, spearheading Anita Roddick’s ground-breaking approach to internal comms in the 1980s. We caught up with Katy Eyre and Gus Colquhoun, the co-founders and long-time owners of the company.
It’s business as usual
But first, what’s up at Psona Films? Tom Boden, Producer, explained that the solvent liquidation of the subsidiary by current owner Communisis is just financial admin. The legal entity is no longer needed as the film team are becoming part of Twelve Agency. They work both as an independent production company and as film specialists within the bigger agency.
Integrating a film production team into a PLC isn’t always straightforward. But the advantage, says Boden, is that film can be organic with the central campaign idea, planned from the outset. Film no longer needs to be added at the last minute, resulting in more effective campaigns. Their recent film for Cineworld is an example and the eight awards they picked up in New York suggest it’s working.
Dropping the Jacaranda name, along with 28 years of brand equity, surprised many in the industry. There’s a new management team at Communisis and they would not disagree. As Katy Eyre succinctly puts it, ‘The rebrand was ridiculous. People said, “Who the f**k are Psona Films?”’
What was so great about Jacaranda Productions?
Like many in the brand and corporate film business, Boden joined Jacaranda as a runner and learnt his craft there. Eyre and Colquhoun’s company trained others who have now gone on to greater things, including senior BBC figures.
‘Anita was the catalyst,’ says Eyre. She and Colquhoun had set up their own companies after university but met Roddick as she built Body Shop into a retailing force and environmental campaigner in every high street. Colquhoun and Eyre hatched a plan to set up a new production company to create content for The Body Shop, operating at arm’s length as an independent production company. Roddick agreed and the three of them co-founded Jacaranda Productions in 1987.
Body Shop’s high profile helped gain recognition for Jacaranda as video communication experts. An enviable client list and awards wins followed, helping define what could be achieved with ‘corporate video’ (as brand film was then called). After seven years, Eyre and Colquhoun bought out Roddick and sold to Communisis in 2014.
So how do they feel about their creation going through members voluntary liquidation? There’s little nostalgia. ‘I felt Jacaranda was over when we sold it,’ says Colquhoun. He is now Creative Director at Kinetic Consulting and is unconvinced there is a role for pure play brand film producers.
Eyre says they had 27 astonishing years in a lifestyle business surrounded by talented people. She is currently doing a lot of gardening, but wouldn’t be drawn on future plans. She thinks budgets have shifted away from commercials into brand films, and smaller companies can offer a more personal, specialised service.
So it might be the end of an era, but it’s unlikely to be the end of the story.
For more on Jacaranda, see the profile by Patrick Russell of the BFI. Psona Films are included in Moving Image Directory, the unique invitation-only list of verified brand video specialists. Video partner search, made easy.