Eugene Riecansky, CEO of music video production company, Rockstar
"...the credibility and experience that come from working with a team like Madonna’s is priceless...it’s the boost in professional confidence that feels most meaningful"
Eugene Riecansky’s career began as a graphic designer in SOHO when he was 18. A year later, he was working at the cutting edge of CD-rom technology for EXP, who pioneered music CD-rom. It was in this ground-breaking environment that Eugene found himself working with Take That, The Shamen, The Orb, Annie Lennox, Underworld and Massive Attack. Fast forward to the year 2000, and Eugene Riecansky had started mixing it up in the music industry with his new company, Rockstar, attracting clients that included Vivienne Westwood, the Sugababes, Greenday and Paul Oakenfold. In 2004, Riecansky made the transition from graphics to film effects and directing music videos. Today, Rockstar works with artists, record companies and management teams on both sides of the Atlantic. And now founder Eugene Riecansky also has his sights firmly set on work in film, TV and commercials. http://www.rock-star.co.uk
1. What would you identify as being your 'big break'? My first big break was being able to begin my career in the music industry. I started as a web designer - and immersed myself in every new technological capability to make my web designs as stimulating and iconic as the artists they represented. So in a way – I like to think I helped engineer my own ‘big breaks’. But when I wanted to move into film, it was the band Prodigy that gave me that opportunity. They were already huge – and we loved what they were doing. In 2004, while working on their web design, we got the chance to direct a video for one of Maxim’s solo projects – and we grabbed it with both hands! 2. You work in an incredibly competitive global industry. What makes Rockstar stand out? It’s also an international industry that reflects massive diversity in influences and cultures – so defining what ‘stands out’ at any given time is never easy. And of course it’s also highly subjective. But I think never becoming complacent is really important. We know what we’re good at – and what we like to do. And we also understand that to stay in the frame, you need to have work out there, being seen all the time. Maybe what makes us stand out is that we see what we want – and we go after it, with ideas upfront to save everyone’s time. 3. What effect has directing a Madonna video had on your profile as a director and your business more generally? Obviously it’s had a huge impact in terms of our visibility. And the credibility and experience that come from working with a team like Madonna’s is priceless. You have to work at the top of your capabilities: nothing less will do. But it’s the boost in professional confidence that feels most meaningful, both to me as a director and to the business. That allows us to push boundaries further, actively go out for the kind of work we want – and have the confidence and experience to win it! 4. How does your Norwich base sit with the imperative within your industry to generate contacts and get your face known? Do you plan to establish an LA base for example at any stage in the future? It works. Much of the time, generating contacts is a by-product of working on highly visible projects, and delivering for and keeping in touch with existing clients. You travel when and where you have to in this job, but we have had an LA base for a couple of years now, and expect to have a presence in London later this year. We’ve also just hired a PR/artist management company, to help us keep news of what we’re doing in front of people - because if we’re focused on doing what we’re good at, we’re not necessarily always the best at promoting ourselves. It is always about who you know! 5. How difficult is it to balance artistic sensibilities with the financial demands placed on any young business? Very! That’s why we take advice from accountants – and the wife! Clients rightly have very high expectations and it can cost a great deal to meet them. That can put enormous pressure on cashflow – no matter how young or old the business. 6. I understand you would like to make the move into the movie business. How is this progressing? It’s not really a move, more like extension and diversification. Rockstar’s capabilities in music are just as relevant in motion pictures, commercials and even title sequences. We enjoy the new challenges that come with a non-music brief. We let our work speak for itself - and we’re getting great reactions to transferring the Rockstar-style we’ve created in the music industry to other markets: film f/x, title sequences and commercials. 7. Are you able to reveal the details of any high profile projects you have in the pipeline? We’ve just done a new ad for Alanis Morissette’s new album, and we’re working on a pitch for The Raconteurs right now. 8. Technology is changing the face of your industry incredibly quickly. Is this a threat or an opportunity? An opportunity – without a doubt. The faster and more powerful computers and software become, the greater the opportunity for creativity … but the technology will always be just a tool; it’s the idea that drives its development. 9. What have been your biggest challenges to date? Getting on an 8am train to London this morning! Keeping Rockstar fresh and dynamic in a rapid-fire industry full of young guns who all want to take your place – that’s quite a challenge! 10. What are your ultimate ambitions for Rockstar as a business? To create exciting, respected work in whatever we do…