Michelle Craig is Founder and Creative Director of Ad Age’s 2019 Production Company of the Year, UNIT9, a globally in-demand, multidisciplinary studio working across Films, Experiential, Digital, and Innovation. She is also an award-winning Director and Writer (known as MICH in the industry) via the studio’s UNIT9 Films division.
Talk to Michelle about:
The need for empathy in storytelling and digital. Digital can be seen as a cold, product-driven subject. Michelle asserts that we should try to find ways to infuse empathy, and make it feel touchy, feely – even if it’s through a game, or a storytelling element, or even a piece of score. This is already happening through AI and machine learning.
The importance of kindness for the next generation of storytellers. Help to mentor and nurture their talent and their voices. Skip perpetuating the habits of any difficult leaders you may have encountered early on in your career. Give them a chance to maximize their potential.
The idea that there is a slightly more level playing field for women and professionals from other diverse backgrounds, and as a result, there is room for more and more voices as the industry evolves.
The unwavering belief that absolutely nothing is impossible. By staying open and focused on new ways to leverage technology, processes, and people, Michelle prefers to pave the way than default to old paradigms.
The fact that virtual working has actually created space for people to become really good at the things they do best. Michelle thinks we’ll come back to a time where virtual and in-person work will be balanced half and half. Cities like London and LA have tough commutes, and it’s a much nicer way of life when you have that time for your life. It allows for more balance.
A reminder to step away from work to look for the things in life that inspire you and help you to recenter and recharge. Michelle finds a great deal of inspiration through reading, as she says “books are my boyfriend.” She reads constantly, from really obscure medical journals to WIRED, with subjects ranging from economic trends, astrophysics, technology, and beyond. Music, film, art, architecture, and travel also feed her creative soul. She challenges others to learn about topics that wouldn’t normally be of interest. Stretch!
Looking at 2022: understandably, people worried about this winter and the pandemic. That can cause hesitancy. Since we are never going to return to a time where there isn’t an online extension to what's happening in the real world, it’s time to pivot, thrive, and find a new way to exist as an augmented self.
Known for her entrepreneurial spirit and drive for innovation, Michelle inspires the UNIT9 team to always look for the “next first” that technology can provide to give client projects even more impact.
Michelle’s directorial work under the moniker MICH has been described as real, fun and emotionally truthful, spanning across TVCs, branded content, and short films, as well as features. Her latest short, Try A Little Tendernsa, has been chosen for the Official Selection at the Oscar/BAFTA qualifying LA Shorts Fest and has picked up numerous awards along the way.
Michelle’s immersive theatre background, her deep understanding of technology (she’s a space nerd), matched with her empathy, has led her to direct immersive campaigns for clients including Samsung, Netflix, Spotify, Lionsgate, and Amazon, among others. It is here that her passion for storytelling intersects perfectly with the world of experience, leading to successful activations that redefine the way brands engage with audiences.