Freerange Future’s BigSmall win at SXSW
Freerange Future is a design-based studio in Adelaide. Their site Big Stories, Small Towns recently won Best Community Site at SXSW. It’s been described as one of the best online documentary projects in the world. AWIA’s Bret Treasure spoke to Managing Director Nick Crowther.
Why do you enter awards?
We enter them for pride and recognition. It’s about giving the team recognition for their hard work and letting them benchmark themselves against everyone else in the industry. And in terms of the awards night, it’s an excuse to suit-up or frock-up and have a big night.
There’s a noticeable short-term effect on staff morale after a win, and I’m not talking about the hangovers!
Business-wise; yeah, we use it to help tell clients our story. We get a protracted trickle through of referrals from the award sites. It does result in new business. And we get congratulations from people months after we’ve actually won, so it obviously sticks in people’s memories.
What’s your strategy for entering awards?
We don’t really have one except that we enter selectively. This year we’ve only really entered the one site, Big Stories, but it fits into different categories in different awards; it was a finalist in Best Use of Video in the AIMIA awards, was nominated for Best Overall Visual Design in the Australian Web Awards and won Best Community Site at SXSW. So you need to work out what category is best fit.
The different awards are clearly looking for different things. Getting nominated for an Australian Web Award always says something about your build quality and your technical proficiency.
You won an international award at your first try…
Hey, we’re from Adelaide; we were pretty damn excited. I went over with one of the filmmakers to SXSW and that event was a knock out. 30,000 people across 15 different venues and it ran for 5 days. Not everything was brilliant but some of the presentations were mind-blowing and they’ll influence how we approach things for years.
The awards night was the last night; big black tie affair and a lot of buzz in the room. We had a small cheer squad. The ABC and SBS had people there; they’d been nominated in other categories. It got underway and about five minutes before they got to our section it occurred to think about a speech, just on the off chance that we might actually win! So we won and I’m not exactly sure what I said in the speech; it took a day or more to sink in.
Any advice for others in the industry?
In terms of awards, fifty or a hundred bucks to enter; it’s a no-brainer if you’re doing good work. Get in the habit. In terms of what it’s done for us, the exposure will help us partner with other filmmakers around the world, will help us raise funding… You never know what’ll happen if you enter these awards.
Something about Freerange Future’s M.O.?
We’re not interested in the cookie-cutter approach. We do some work with Word Press when it suits the project but where we need the flexibility for say web app integration or a complex front end we use our own custom CMS.
Stop Press: The day we posted this story Freerange also took off the Award for Innovation in Digital Media at the SA Screen Awards. Yay!