Rhea Scott Talks Music Videos, Little Minx, Exquisite Corpse and Fresh Underpants
I recently got to sit down with Rhea Scott, Ridley Scott's daughter-in-law. (A breathy PR guy related that trivia to me about four times, which is why I mention it in the VERY. FIRST. SENTENCE.)
Rhea once headed the music video department at Propaganda. 10 years ago she started Little Minx, a production company focused on turning ad directors into filmmakers. From what I gathered in the film reels, directors are encouraged to treat each ad like a miniature manifesto. (It probably also helps to be a surrealist art fan.)
Little Minx is able to provide the necessary creative resources -- read: king-sized budget, the ideal artist's sponsorship -- through parent company RSA.
"So what's your daughter's real name?" I asked.
"I named her Cuba," Rhea said, "after the film--"
"I AM CUBA!" I exclaimed.
"You know it?" she asked. "I loved it!"
And that's when I decided that Rhea rocks well. Onto the interview.
How did you conceive Little Minx?
"When I started the company I focused on music videos. We did Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Black Eyed Peas ... but that world is changing. The opportunity to develop young talent is not really happening there. [Colleague] Malik Hassan Sayeed thought of commercials.
"Commercials are taken seriously on the film side, and that's ultimately where I want to go. It's a much more civilized world."
I don't often hear the expression "civilized world" attributed to commercials. Can you clarify?
"There are fewer competing directors, and it is more lucrative." Rhea explained that with music videos, directors typically bid for a job they want. It isn't always conducive to creativity.
The stated purpose of Little Minx is to turn ad directors into film makers. What's your success rate like?
"I would say my success rate is very good. But I still look to where [my talent] could be. I think none of them have hit the pinnacle of their career."
What was the Exquisite Corpse project all about, and do you plan to develop it more fully?
"Exquisite Corpse was meant to inspire the Little Minx directors. The idea came from a French parlor game, 'Cadavre Exquis'" -- when you pick up the thread of a story based on the last sentence of the last storyteller.
"We are thinking about taking the concept and developing a product, or making films ... it's organically developing itself. The first film in the set was accepted at the Tribeca Film Festival. Seattle Film Fest accepted the last one."
Are there any particular brands you'd like to develop?
Rhea hesitated. Then she said she can never tell what product opportunities will yield a treasure.
Last year she drew inspiration from "Stuck," a Thortons spot by Harmony Korine. It came as a surprise to find such a gorgeous feat of filmmaking in an ad for something as common as chocolate.
(Then again, when is chocolate not gilded in fantasy? I'm thinking Cadbury gorilla. And Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.)
Sooo. I heard Ridley Scott is your father-in-law. What is your relationship with him like?
"Ridley in so many ways is very similar to my own father." Rhea joined RSA shortly after losing both her father and brother. Ridley became a surrogate family figure.
What's one lie your parents told you?
To goad her on, I related a couple my parents told me: circumcision makes boys taller, and eating sesame seeds makes you grow wings.
"My mom once told me to keep my underpants fresh in case I ever had a car accident," Rhea said solemnly. "It didn't hit me until years later: if I ever have an accident, what will I care about my underpants?!"
Since the launch of Little Minx, parent company RSA has also formed a digital and new media division. It is called Great Scott.