Happy New Year everyone! I wanted to kick 2016 off with some positive and creative inspiration here on the blog. I managed to pin down my friend Meriel Bunney-Gillies for an interview to find out what makes her tick. I first met Meriel at a textile conference at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and I was so struck by how passionate she was, and still is, about the creative industries and the arts. Meriel is one of the most engaging people I know, you only need to spend a few minutes with her before you’re noting down exhibitions you need to see, city breaks to book and articles to read.She works at LS Productions as Creative Development, and divides her time between London and Edinburgh.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Meriel Bunney-Gillies, I’m 25 years old and I’m a photography and film addict. I have lived in Paris, the Orkney Islands and New York among other places. Ok, so NY was for three weeks but that totally counts. It’s not the time that you live in a place; it’s the impact it makes on you.
My newest move was this autumn to London in order to open an office for LS Productions, a production company with an Edinburgh HQ which specialises in producing photo shoots and commercials in the UK. We work with a variety of clients, from fashion brands to whisky companies, from international magazines to musicians like Florence + the Machine and Birdy. I love it. It brings together my great interests: style, travel and creative collaborations.Above: Kirsty Hume by Erik Madigan Heck for UK Harper’s Bazaar September 2015. Service produced by LS Productions.
Where is home?
Home is anywhere I have ever lived, but especially Edinburgh.
I read an article recently about how everywhere feels like home if it smells like home, so I fully plan on using this as a reason to head for Diptyque this weekend. Or Tom Ford. Or the bakery department in M&S for cinnamon swirls.
Above: Meriel in Edinburgh.
What inspires you?
At work, the team! They are all so incredibly passionate and hardworking. Aesthetically, our studio complex inspires me, as do the locations we find. I have spent hours scouring our in-house location library for interesting corners and unusual and striking aesthetics. Three years in, I still find things that surprise me.
Above most of the LS team, shot by John Owen.
Describe a typical work week?
I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a typical work week in production. That said, meeting new people, coffees, location inspiration for shoots and travel are all regular features on my itinerary.
You travel a lot for work, where’s your favourite place you’ve visited?
Amsterdam, Shanghai or New York, purely because travelling with work was my first experience of these places. A first encounter with Amsterdam’s apple cake made a big impression. That’s why it’s listed first.
Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment?
As a company we work on multiple projects at once, many of which are under wraps. This is a brilliant time to get a sense of what we’ve been working on in the last few months, as all of our 2015 autumn winter campaigns and editorials have now been released. I particularly love the Stella McCartney campaign, which came to Scotland specifically because of Stella’s childhood holidays up here. I love how that’s her campaign reference.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Luxury-wise? Lippy. I’m pretty low key and tend to travel as light as I can but this admirable policy never seems to stretch to lipsticks. When international travel’s involved, it can stop me looking jet-lag tired. It keeps me going when I spend days careering around cities meeting clients.
We all have more than one thing we can’t live without, of course. There’s a notebook whole page of “one things”. I couldn’t survive without good company. I’m really grateful to be surrounded by people who fascinate me and make me laugh.
That would be telling! They’re all the more guilty for being secret.
Best piece of advice?
Don’t wait for a company you like to advertise before getting in touch to ask about working for them. Do your research, be bespoke, be memorable, be bold. Say what it is you have to offer.
Personally, I knew I wanted to work for LS Productions (then Location Scotland) from the second I discovered them while researching the Scotland-shot Tilda Swinton Pringle of Scotland campaigns. I harassed the team with ideas of what I could do for the company, began freelance and then started the Creative Development division of the company a little over two years ago. It just shows that perseverance and promises of cake can go a long way when you’re passionate about the job.
Favourite hour of the day?
The golden hour, particularly in Scotland. It reminds me in the summer months just how lucky we are to live in the north and have such long days of light. If I missed the golden hour I would substitute it with the time immediately after we get an incredible brief in. We had a Peter Lindbergh enquiry and shoot in 2014. I nearly fell of my chair when I saw it come in. He’s one of my heroes!
Favourite Hebridean island?
I would have to go for an underdog here and say Ronay Island, which few people have been to. Have you heard of it? It’s a smaller, private island but it has its own fair share of epic scenery.
I’m also a fan of loch islands, like those in Loch Lomond, or Castle Stuart. They remind me of Swallows and Amazons, or The Famous Five.
Favourite Edinburgh hang-outs?
Outdoors! What a city for walking.
There are so many great spots in this city. I like Artisan Roast on Broughton Street in the winter for its cosy backroom and fire, Twelve Triangles for its stellar doughnuts, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art for its outdoor installations and crunchy salads, The Cameo and Dominion for film nights and Devil’s Advocate for drinks.
Ph. By Lianne Mackay photography
Favourite place in Scotland?
I would have to go with a location that I haven’t visited myself, but that has inspired me without fail since I first saw it on our database. WYVEST. It has this fantastic combination of a location you would associate with summer – the outdoor swimming pool – and rugged, Northern surroundings: an alpine forest, a loch, a Highland valley.
Tell us one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I have the power to summon designers out of thin air. Ok, not quite, but I do seem to run into one in every city I go to on my travels for LS. I’ve crossed paths with Roksanda Ilincic in the Hearst building in NY, queued next to Iris van Herpen in Amsterdam cafés at lunchtime, and almost walked into Jonathan Saunders in Shoreditch.
In fact that’s probably not surprising. Apparently designers are sometimes out on the street, in the crowd, among other people: it’s just that I recognise them, which isn’t much of a superpower.
Thank you Meriel!