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State Of Play: Micheal Newton, Greatcoat Films

State Of Play: Micheal Newton, Greatcoat Films

Rob Ulitski - 21st Feb 2023

In the latest of our new series asking British music video-makers about their experiences last year and thoughts on the coming year, we talk to Micheal Newton - Head of Music at Greatcoat Films.

Having established himself as a freelance producer, Micheal looks back upon a busy first year at the helm at Greatcoat, and sets out a wishlist for improvements in the way music videos are made.

Working with all the directors we have at Greatcoat has been special and exciting.


How would you describe last year in a few words?

Joyful and educational.

What was your favourite project or projects you worked on last year?

There were two: Dir Lx's video for Yung Filly ft Chip's Day 2 Day, and Thea Gajic's for Mychelle's Tightrope.

Above: Yung Filly ft Chip's Day 2 Day by Dir. Lx

Any other project you enjoyed that deserved more attention, or went under the radar?

Sau Ali's video for Stay Flee Get Lizzy x Lancey Foux x SL's Simple was severely under-looked. And also Knucks's  Nice and Good by Dir Lx was a super-sick video.

What were the best aspects of the job last year?

Working with lots of super-talented producers and pairing them up with the right directors so each would bring the best out of the other. Also meeting and working with some lovely commissioners.

Above: Mychelle's Tightrope by Thea Gajic

What were the most challenging aspects of the job last year?

Managing budgets and expectations of both director, client, prod company and artist, while still trying to deliver a quality project you can be proud of.

Music videos are wonderful... but sometimes it's like squeezing blood from a stone to make them.

Best or favourite video or videos last year that you weren’t involved with?

That 21 Savage and Pharrell one [for Cash In Cash Out] was spectacular. Refreshing to see a super creative project. In fact, pretty much anything that came out of France. Those lot are smashing it!!

What were the trends (creative or otherwise) that you thought were most striking last year?

Good question. I don’t look for trends, so it's a hard one to answer. But I think the addition of VFX into micro budgets has helped elevate videos quality much more. 

What was other cultural highlight (or highlights) of the year?

Kendrick and Ab-Soul coming back out with music and visuals. On the UK front, Knucks having a strong year with visuals - and winning at the MOBOs. Dir Lx has been Knucks' partner-in-crime with all the super creative visuals he has provided.

Also - Shan Phearon dropped one of the most mental videos I have seen in music videos recently with his Zack Snyder-inspired CGI work on Jazmin Bean's Carnage video.

Above: Jazmin Bean's Carnage by Shan Phearon

Any other personal experience that defines 2022 for you?

Joining Greatcoat Films as Head of Music was a new challenge that I welcomed and think I did pretty well for my first year. Meeting and working with all the directors we have at Greatcoat has been special and exciting.

Our industry needs more open and honest conversations, and for us to stick up for each other more.


What are you looking forward to in 2023 – both for work and for other parts of your life?

I look forward to trying my best like I did last year, with more quality work and exciting creatives that push me and the directors to grow. And as always, I'm trying to find the balance between work and my time. I want to invest more into myself this year as equally as I invest into work.

Have you set work objectives for this year and if so, what are they?

I am in the middle of thinking about that, and what I want out of this year for myself and the company.

Who are the up-and-coming talents that you think will break through this year – or at least deserve to be successful?

At Greatcoat - everyone!! Haha. But seriously... I think Sau Ali is a hot one to keep an eye for. Thea Gajic is also someone that can do special things if given the opportunity like she has so far. Her second video for Mychelle, for Hurt, has just dropped. 

Sannchia Guston is making some amazing ad work, but all the promo treatments she has written thus far are on the ball and special. She will be a big star to break through once she gets into her promo bag.

Finally, I think AyChibs is another great newcomer to the scene that will flex his creative talent, Chibs has made some great individual work with little to no resources, and now with our backing, I think we will see even more incredible work from him.

Sannchia and Chibs are both on CURATED which is the development roster we’ve been working on this past year and we'll be launching very soon.

Above: Stay Flee Get Lizzy x Lancey Foux x SL's Simple by Sau Ali

What is your prediction for the direction of the industry in 2023? And what will be the big trends for the year ahead?

Hopefully some more overseas shoots! I think the UK has used up most of their locations. You can spot a location and know where it is.

Any other comments about the current environment for music video production and music video creativity? What are the issues that we should be most concerned with?

Music videos are wonderful, and they allow us to be so creative - but sometimes it is like squeezing blood from a stone to make them.

Here are my bullet points of my concerns with music video production:

  • Not enough lead time in pre-production/not enough time in post-production.
  • Not enough money to demand fast and high-quality turnarounds - although we still make them happen.
  • There needs to be a rate card for the crew, even if this is broken down into budget criteria (eg, £5k-£15k, £16k-£25k etc). Each criteria has a rate card, as a producer haggling crew for favours and the rate is taxing.
  • Directors and Production Company needs more incentive for the work they put into these videos, some royalties or other form of profit.
  • Producers deserve to be paid better fees in music promos.

 This is just to name few of the things I see that could be improved.

There needs to be a rate card for the crew, even if this is broken down into budget criteria.

If you could ‘make a wish’, and reform or change the environment in which you work in one way, what would you wish for? 

Greatcoat has a great atmosphere around it and is very supportive. More generally, I think in our industry needs more open and honest conversations, and for us to stick up for each other more. Help welcome new talent into the industry with ease. 

Have you made any personal New Year resolutions? And if so, how’s it going?

I have and it isn’t going so well at the moment! Work has taken over my life, the industry started off with a super bang. It's so busy at the moment, but I will get it back on track. Still got 11 months left in the year to get back on track...

• Micheal Newton is Head of Music at Greatcoat Films

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