Jack Wills: For those that don’t know, what is Orillo, and what do you do there?
Keenan Foley: Orillo is a film production company based in York and London. We have worked on some great projects around the world, growing Orillo as an international business. My role as Creative Director is to make sure that we are working on the right projects and that we’ve always put our creative foot first as a business.
JW: When did you first start working at Jack and what were your roles here?
KF: In my second year of university while studying film. I started as a Sales Assistant in the York store, which was great fun and made me friends for life. One in-store Christmas launch event, a group of friends and me (we’d later founded Orillo together) decided to make a small film recapping the night. This was circulated around the company and got some great comments. A few months later Jack Wills launched in America; seeing an opportunity, I emailed the marketing team asking if I could visit the store as it coincided with a personal trip to America. After seeing the Christmas film they said yes, and I spent a week on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard capturing the Seasonnaires doing what they do best. We returned to the UK and made the first film. Delighted with the content we were sent back to capture more content. We soon became the chosen production company to document all of the Seasonnaire activity in the UK, US and Hong Kong between 2010 and 2013.
JW: What is the one memory of Jack that you look back on most fondly?
KF: The thing I loved the most was the University Tour in the US. It lasted 7 weeks and we visited most universities on the East Coast of America. It was a real adventure and was completely ahead of the curve in terms of brand activation-based marketing that we all take for granted today.
JW: How did your experiences at Jack help you get started Orillo?
KF: Jack Wills gave us the start we needed. The beauty of the brand was that it was big enough to have international recognition, but the structure and ethos inside was so organic and experimental. Back then films would only live as TV adverts, but Jack was really one of the first businesses willing to invest in new mediums on social media. Filming the Seasonnaires events and making ‘adverts’ based on real people was a unique approach in 2010 and was exciting that the marketing team saw strength in it.
JW: What gave you the inspiration to go it alone?
KF: I have never wanted to ‘go it alone’. I had a solid group of friends/house mates/business partners back in 2010 that wanted to go on the same journey as me, so when this opportunity came up to work on Orillo full time (and it took about a year after the first film we made) we all jumped on it. Now, 7 years later, it’s a completely different beast; although we don’t all live together and work out of our front room, the friendship is still as strong as ever.
JW: What has been the key to your successes?
KF: I would say the main one has been investing in our product: film. We have always wanted to make the best films possible and never ‘doing things by half’. At a time when we should have been paying ourselves more than £100 a week, we decided to buy more kit, put on outdoor screenings, renovate our studio and employ more people. Always think long term.
JW: What does being ‘entrepreneurial’ mean to you?
KF: I actually don’t agree with the word; I feel entrepreneurs are always more of a team of people. Orillo was started by four keen filmmakers and moved forward by a passionate team. We now have 14 people in the office and we couldn’t make films without them. We have always surrounded ourselves with people who are genuine and as passionate as we are.
JW: What would your advice be to people looking to start up their own business?
KF: Enjoy the journey. It’s so easy to focus on where you want to be rather than enjoying the moments that you’re in.
JW: What does the future hold for Orillo?
KF: We are focusing on the feature-length documentary and film world in the next few years as we’ll as expanding our portfolio of sporting coverage, such as sailing. In the landscape of branded content we are excited to see what partnerships we develop with brands over the next few years as the way people digest film changes.