Our Q&A with Telly Jury Council Member, Mike Middleton

Founder Guerilla Creative

Michael began his professional career in TV news at the Nine Network Australia, working his way through various roles including sound, camera and editing travel stories for the Today show. 

Leaving Channel 9 he produced several successful TV series, before moving to Norway where he worked at BUG, a VFX and animation production house. The learning curve was steep as he dived into visual effects, cinematography, and stereoscopic technologies, producing motion graphics, corporate films, and commercials for TV and cinema.

Returning to Melbourne in 2008, Michael set up Guerilla Creative and joined forces with his best mate from high school, James Grech. Building the business with small jobs including event coverage and corporate films, they eventually saw the client base grow along with budget, production quality and crew.

12 years later, Guerilla Creative operates out of a 500 sqm studio warehouse, with a team of 7 passionate creatives, working with some of Australia’s biggest brands and agencies. Michael oversees the business but is still very hands on, both on set and in post. 

Your branding is surrounded by using the latest techniques and technologies to keep ahead of the game, what’s something that has newly arisen in the last year that has inspired your work?

Where do I start?

Virtual Production as seen in “The Mandalorian” and how it is becoming accessible to lower budget production through the rendering power of Unreal Engine and affordable VR systems. Bring on practical environmentally-accurate lighting, and shooting VFX in camera!

Also, Augmented Reality and Interactive video are becoming more of a focus.

How has your work structure changed with all of the fluctuation of the 2020 landscape?

As I write this we are going into stage three restrictions after a spike of coronavirus. So the future feels uncertain, but we have already been through it once and we were busier than ever. We communicate more than ever, and we work to still deliver the best we can. It will likely have been 20 weeks at the end of this stint, and we are all really missing each other.

What new and exciting tech do you expect to see in the coming year or two?

We’ll see solid, real-time volumetric “video” capture using depth camera arrays, bringing 3D people to AR/VR. It’s already happening, but tech advancements will mean that voxels will start to replace pixels, and a true blending of gaming and cinema will be finally possible.

What do your Telly wins mean to you and the team?

We were honestly gobsmacked. The last award we won was at a student film festival in 1996. To win 3 Gold Tellys actually feels like a bit of a dream. The recognition really validates our passion to go above and beyond in everything we do.

With the bushfires, the pandemic, social distancing and all that’s going on in the states, this year has seemed really dark, and The Telly Awards have been that little ray of light that has picked up the team and reaffirmed our purpose.

What do you think makes an award winning piece of work? What type of work stands out to you?

For me it’s a blend of cinematic brilliance and a narrative that wakes you up and makes you take notice. Whether it’s a documentary, TVC, animation or comedy, it needs to get the neurons firing and chemicals flowing.

It’s comfortable, relaxed and engaging talent. It’s nuanced editing. It’s technical skills meets creative artistry, and all the behind the scenes work you don’t “see” on the screen.