Director, screenwriter, and actress Lake Bell has joined Los Angeles-based entertainment production company, London Alley. The question many may ask, understandably, is why?
It was born out of a recent collaboration between Bell and the business on a short film called Cann-Do Holiday, a partnership with Cann, the leading cannabis-infused beverage. Bell joins the firm as Director, while the drink’s founder, Luke Anderson, is also getting onboard at London Alley as a Partner and Executive Producer.
“London Alley is very committed to working with companies that are pushing the envelope,” Bell enthused to Forbes. She added, “There are a lot of companies that we are working with, and jobs we are bidding on now, where I actually like the company. Instead of being a director for hire on product advertisement, it becomes a more meaningful way to engage.”
It was Anderson who turned her onto the idea of having skin in the game. She was not actively seeking out commercial work but the pandemic made Bell look at how she was doing what she loves to do.
“After the pandemic, we can all relate to the idea of our industries being reconfigured, and so how we scratch the itch of the thing that we do, that makes us feel whole and gives us creative sustenance, has changed too,” Bell explained. “We have to seek out different ways to do that.”
Joining London Alley isn’t the first time the filmmaker has been presented with a commercial partnership, but this one passed the sniff test.
“I have had proposals in the past but usually in the kind of language like, ‘Oh, would you ever be interested in directing a commercial?’ and I’d say yes, and then I wouldn’t hear anything. I’m not calling those guys back,” Bell revealed. “For me to give a s**t or be interested in participating in branded content of any sort, I would have had to have some kind of alluring free creative connectivity involved with it.”
London Alley has a tradition of creating “creative first content” and has worked with Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, The Weeknd, Bad Bunny, Post Malone, Lil Nas X, YouTube, PepsiCo, Netflix, NFL, and more creating music videos and commercials.
In conjunction with Roman Coppola, Bell herself has previously created branded content for W Hotels. “I like short form as a sort of a creative experiment and exercise, so I think of branded or advertisement content as like miniature narratives,” she said.
“As a consumer, and because I’m a visual person, I find great peace and attraction to products that give a s**t about their creative, and I make those choices with my own pocketbook,” Bell continued. “Their ethics and how they do business, tell the story of their brands, and how they are presenting on a larger stage is meaningful to me.”
“London Alley is a company that recognizes the commitment and currency of what mixing groundbreaking and cinematic narrative branded content can do for the brand and consumer relationship. It’s more intimate, meaningful, and committed.”
So what does Bell expect the reality of the day-to-day of her new role to look like?
“Everyone is entitled to engage and express their creative needs within this industry in different ways, especially coming out of what we’ve gone through and reshaping how things work,” she affirmed. “With London Alley, I’m just a teammate. I didn’t engage with other commercial agencies because it didn’t feel right.”
“I have every right to say, ‘Hey, I don’t feel like engaging with that one.’ They understand that positioning for me. I also have a staunch commitment to my work as a filmmaker, and I continue to nurture those projects,” Bell concluded. “I think part of what I love about them is that they have great respect for me and the work that I do. And so, you know, sometimes I go off and do something, even as an actor, and my first love and my firstborn. This is additional and additive to the breadth of work I aspire to do.”