EXCLUSIVE: Thomas Benski, former CEO and co-founder of Gangs of London producer Pulse Films, stopped by Deadline’s Zurich Summit studio to discuss his time at Pulse and what the future holds for him, including an upcoming production. You can watch the video above.
Pulse, well known for its film and TV slate as well as its strong roster of commercial and music video directors (the video division has worked with artists from Radiohead to A$AP Rocky), has been majority owned by Vice Media Group since 2016 but Benski and Clifford left the company last year after 16 years. In May of this year, Vice filed for bankruptcy with its creditors ultimately assuming control of the once high-flying media company.
In his first interview since he left Pulse, Benski discussed what he is most proud of from his time running the company: “I’m most proud of our commitment to great work; that was one of the key values we had. The second thing I’m most proud of was the incredible team we built. It was a team united by a love of storytelling and a dedication to make great work”.
In terms of what’s next, Benski told us he wants to continue working with emerging creative talent and to innovate by incorporating new models into film and TV: “I’ve had the luxury to be able to look at the business with some distance without a single vehicle in mind. People who know me know I’ve always been interested in broader aspects of the business, how to innovate and to find ways of doing things differently. In the complicated market we’re facing, I’m a believer that talent will prevail. I’m excited to build companies that reflect that, to help build vehicles that are talent led, and that prioritise the work and ownership. I’ve analysed music a lot and it’s interesting to see how artists have been able to own their own libraries and I’m curious to see whether there are ways to do that in the film and TV business”.
He continued: “I’ve started to make investments in industries that are adjacent to ours. I’m a believer that we should embrace things outside the narrow lane of content sales and to look at alternative revenue streams…I’m interested in innovation and not necessarily trying to replace ‘the good old days’.”
Among projects Benski is working on is the feature debut of former Pulse filmmaker Oscar Hudson, an acclaimed British commercials and music video director. Hudson has directed shorts that have played at the London, Rotterdam and Camerimage film festivals, as well as music videos for Radiohead, James Blake and Slowthai, and ads for Apple, Nike, and John Lewis’ Christmas commercial 2020.