The UK government announced last year that they’re going to fast-track fracking applications in England and Wales.

The Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, was on UK media pontificating about how local councils are dragging their heels over applications. (Her statement also seems massively at odds with the Tories stated aim of devolving power to local people, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

I have no idea whether councils are, or aren’t, dragging their heels.

But surely the only questions that should be relevant are:

  1. Is fracking safe?
  2. Does it benefit local people?

The answer to question one is that we don’t know yet. So surely doing a bit more research into this is the best way to go?

It’s another simple demonstration of why I think that governments are, generally, morons.

Fracking. Fracking idiots. Stop fracking. The Simpsons. Mr Burns.

Excellent. Or is it?

 

This situation reminds me of when Phil Woolas (a member of the previous Labour government) said “it is now down to the opponents of genetically modified food to prove it is unsafe.”

What a chancer. That’s like saying we can see that smokers suffer higher instances of cancer, but it’s up to them to prove that smoking causes cancer.

Sadly, due to the level of duplicity practiced in the UK by politicians, I no longer believe what they say. I read the Phil Woolas quote as “we can make a bucket-load of money if we allow GM crops”.

And it’s the same with this stance by the current crop of idiots (no pun intended).

Fracking is in the middle of a huge argument between scientists, power companies, governments and rich people. Surely we should listen to what the scientists say? Otherwise it’s the same as looking at the engine of a broken down car and asking a greengrocer to fix it.

Fracking. Frack off. Fracking idiots. Fracking protest. Stop fracking.

Excellent. Or is it?

Here’s a great quote from a US politician (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type!):

But just to the west, natural gas development is dramatically changing the landscape. Drilling rigs are running around the clock in western Pennsylvania. Though buoyed by the economic windfall, residents fear that regulators can’t keep up with the pace of development. “It’s going to be hard to freeze-frame and say, ‘Let’s slow down,’?” Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., D-Pa., said last fall. “That makes it more difficult for folks like us, who say we want to create the jobs and opportunity in the new industry, but we don’t want to do it at the expense of water quality and quality of life.”

Fracking. Fracking protest. Stop fracking. Anti-fracking protest.

US protesters making a pretty good point.

On a human note, do politicians not tire of making every decision based on money? Do they not wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning thinking: “I’m a horrible, soulless person?”

They bloody should.

Back to the UK Tory politician who has most recently advertised she’s sold her soul, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd. She’s quoted as saying: “delays in decisions on fracking don’t help anybody”. She’s got to be joking, surely?

How can so many people in the UK keep on voting for these self-centred heartless maniacs? Can she really not see that a delay might benefit all of us if it’s proven that fracking is environmentally unsound.

Some of the issues that are currently being debated are:

  • the amount of water required to carry out the fracking process
  • the loss of methane during transportation
  • the ‘dirty’ power used (diesel engines and generators) to extract fracked gas
  • water contamination (from leaks, not the actual process)
  • does fracking fluid contain carcinogens (like benzene and methanol)?

I’m no expert in energy production, nor would I claim to have an extensive knowledge of fracking. But after spending a fair amount of time reading both sides of the argument it appears that there are still significant debates occurring. So would it not make sense to pause for a moment, assess the facts and then move on in a manner that is safe for this generation and future generations to come?

I’d love Amber Rudd MP to see this and to respond. It would be fantastic to hear her try to explain her stance. I’m guessing it wouldn’t just be “we love money”. Unfortunately that’s what seems to drive most politicians these days.

I’m pretty certain that this signals the launch of the open season on fracking in England and Wales. However, as I live in Scotland things are a little different up here. The Scottish government has ordered a moratorium on fracking. They’re investigating to see if the benefits outweigh the negatives. Their stated aims are to:

  • undertake a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction
  • commission a full public health impact assessment
  • conduct further work to strengthen planning guidance
  • look at further tightening of environmental regulation.

Which seems like common sense to me. It’s the fact that politicians seem evasive that makes people think they’re trying to hide something. And the fact that companies refuse to reveal what their ‘secret ingredients’ are that erodes trust between them and the general public. Communicating isn’t difficult. Tell the truth, simply. Not. That. Hard. (Unless you have another agenda.)

Fracking. Stop fracking. Fracking is dangerous. Chemicals in fracking.

The mysterious approach of being economical with the truth.

What’s astonishing about the situation in Scotland is that politicians are using their brains to do the right thing (and not just the thing that makes rich people richer).

I’m pretty apolitical, but I’m proud that we seem to have a group of politicians who are driven by the welfare of everyone in the country and not just the elite. I’m sure they’ll manage to do stupid things too, but it seems like they’ll genuinely care about what they say and deliver.

As for the Tories and their desperate attempts to allow their rich friends to become even richer, I’m pretty disappointed. Absolutely not surprised, but very disappointed. Surely the people who vote for the Tories read the news each day and think “they’ve just shafted me again?”

Rant over.

Well, almost.

Seriously people, we hold the power. Protest and make sure we know the truth before we start allowing energy companies to drill all across the country. If it’s safe, then we’re all laughing. Loads of new energy sources – it’ll be happy days. But if we continue fracking and then find out it has horrific side effects then it’s too late.

As a side-note to Amber Rudd MP, do you want to be remembered as the person who let the genie out the bottle if fracking does have negative consequences? You have the power to order a moratorium. It’s what any sensible person would do.

Let’s make sure fracking is safe before we start celebrating rich folk getting richer.

Frank Budgen was a groundbreaking copywriter, director and inspiration.
He died on Monday 2nd November 2015.
I loved his work.
He continually delivered astonishingly effective and beautiful adverts, and yet remained humble and keen to learn new things.
He understood the need to make an impact.
So he changed and evolved to ensure that his approach always felt fresh. It always had something different.
He was a hero to many.

He was responsible for one of my favourite pieces of film (not just adverts) of all time, the ‘Double Life’ spot for the Sony Playstation. For me, it absolutely nails the target audience.
They don’t see computer games as a waste of time. They’re proud of the effort they put in and the alternative digital lives they lead. It’s a tribal thing, where the advert recognises the emotion that gamers feel. It looks fantastic and it still gives me goosebumps to watch.

He began his journey in advertising when he started as a copywriter at BBDO. He then moved to M&C Saatchi before becoming creative director at Boase Massimi Pollitt (BMP). The reputation that BMP enjoyed was based on their excellent creative output – one that saw regular award and account wins.

While working at BMP Frank directed his first commercial (that he also wrote) for John Smith’s Brewery.

By 1992 he had decided he wanted to direct rather than write and he left BMP to join the Paul Weiland Film Company. He continued to develop his skills there and launched his own production company, Gorgeous Enterprises, in 1997.
It’s one of the delights of working in advertising to call Gorgeous and be greeted with “Hello Gorgeous”.

He features in The Commercials Book: How 32 of the world’s best directors make their commercials. It’s a fantastic read. He talks at length and eloquently about how he approaches directing.

“In the end you have to let a piece of work kick you in the gut. I think too many people look for rules in advertising. It’s not about that. You have to feel it, and often too much of it gets strangled by logic.”

“I see my work as a team effort where there’s no distinction between writer, art director or director. Anybody can contribute to any part of the process. Most of my best work has been a collaboration between me and the agency at script stage. And it’s great when that carries on through the shoot into post production.
A lot of trust has to be given to a director the team may hardly know and I guess having an agency background can be reassuring.”

“Some people say that advertising has changed for the worse over the years. I actually think it’s got better.”

By his own admission he rarely knew what the finished commercial would look like. He took the approach that change was constant and he remained flexible in his approach to casting, rehearsals, locations and editing. And he wasn’t pigeon-holed by a style, or a technique or an approach. As he put it: “People tell me that I’ve got no style at all, which I think is meant as a compliment.”

He was recognised in 2012 at D&AD’s 50th anniversary celebrations as Britain’s most-awarded commercials director (jointly with Tony Kaye).

When he was working as a copywriter he wrote this ad for The Guardian that still resonates today.
It’s simple, memorable and powerful. The idea fits perfectly with the proposition – that The Guardian gives you every angle on a story. It was directed by Paul Weiland, who Frank went on to work for after BMP.

Here’s a selection of beautiful adverts Frank shot after he became a full-time director. Judge for yourself if he had no style.
(I think I’d change that earlier sentence to: Frank has no one particular style associated with his work. But, damn, he had style.)

Audi ‘Number One’ (1995)

Capital Radio ‘Static’ (1996)

VW ‘UFO’ (1996)

Centraal Beheer ‘Museum’ (1996)

Guinness ‘Bet on Black’ (2000)

Levi’s ‘Twist’ (2001)

Reebok ‘Escape the Sofa’ (2001)

Nike ‘Tag’ (2001)

NSPCC ‘Cartoon’ (2002)

Nike ‘Shade Runner’ (2002)

Playstation ‘Mountain’ (2003)

Xbox ‘Jump rope’ (2006)

Sony Bravia ‘Play Doh’ (2007)

And finally Playstation ‘Double Life’ (1999)

Well, it is my favourite.
Watch it again and marvel at the sheer beauty of it, on all levels.

Frank Budgen
(1954 – 2015)
Copywriter and director

Goodbye to a man who commanded armies and conquered worlds.
He will be missed.