- LOS ANGELES
Rory AB Forrest has joined the directorial roster of Monument, the L.A. shop founded by managing director Gianfillipo Pedrotti, executive creative director Erik Johann Van Wyk and exec producer John Quinn. British writer-director Forrest made his initial career mark on the agency side as a creative at Grey London before moving onto shops such as Mistress in Los Angeles and later breaking new branded entertainment ground at Playa Vista, Calif.-based Fullscreen.
While Monument is his first production house roost, Forrest has been quite active directorially in recent years at Fullscreen. He had a directing hand in assorted commercials there, often teaming with creative colleague Ben Beale (who is still at Fullscreen) and dovetailing with influencer talent like Tiffany Alvord, UsTheDuo, Geoff Ramsey and Damon & Jo, among others. Forrest and Beale also directed PSAs, one of which went viral for It Can Wait, an anti-distracted-driving awareness initiative. The piece had a $20,000 budget and went on to generate more than 247 million cross-platform views worldwide, earning a Cannes Lion nomination along the way.
At Fullscreen Forrest was in on the ground floor of the AT&T Hello Lab, a branded entertainment platform. The Hello Lab ran for five years, created more than 20 shows, 15 short films, varied pieces of supporting content, numerous commercials and garnered a billion-plus total views. Beale and Forrest served as creative directors of the venture (later becoming group programming directors) and were two of the six founders to conceive of it, led by Billy Parks and Bryan Thoensen.
Forrest landed a major directing gig with the second season of Hello Lab’s flagship series Guilty Party: History of Lying. The show featured 13 leads who were a mix of traditional acting talent like Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise), and non-traditional well-known influencers breaking into film like Andrea Russet, Gabe Conte, and Teala Dunn. It was an eight episode young adult crime-drama that aired on DirecTV and endeavored to impart lessons about the nature of liars, particularly relevant in this alternative facts era.
Among Forrest’s other directing credits was SnapChat’s experimental show Make My Mondays where influencer Shonduras would ask his audience what they wanted him to do and the producers would make it happen. Forrest also went on to lead the creative for another marquee Fullscreen account, Mattel. In that capacity Forrest exec produced the show Hot Wheels Unlimited, the concept of which followed the internet trend of mega track-builds in people’s homes. Forrest directed an episode in which a mile of orange Hot Wheels’ track was placed at Willow Springs International Raceway (featured in Ford v Ferrari); there a tiny car race took on a Top Gear-style showdown feel featuring internet personality and host Andy Reismeyer.
Forrest, who graduated from Bucks Ad School in London, professionally broke into advertising early on with the intent of eventually settling into the director’s chair. He has long harbored directing aspirations. His joining the Monument lineup signals his full commitment to a filmmaking career.
Forrest’s experience at Fullscreen has opened up some eyes to him as a director. For example Warren Lenz, CEO of TalentXManagement, a talent representation agency exclusively for influencers, said, “after casting and producing many projects Rory directed, I can say with absolute certainty that he’s a one-of-a-kind talent who truly knows how to effectively fuse new media with Gen Z culture and the Influencer landscape at large.”
Accustomed to the eye-roll from skeptics when the topic of influencers comes up, Forrest shared, “To any of the doubters, I say this (for what it’s worth): Will Smith is now one of the biggest players on most social platforms by active design, and he’s leveraging projects like the Fresh Prince reboot into two season deals with Netflix, all based on a viral video. For me, it doesn’t show that times are changing, they’ve already changed.”
Forrest said he’s enthused over landing at Monument and making the official transition to writing and directing. It’s what I’ve always wanted, but never thought I would get here. And I know I’m unbelievably lucky, especially with the pandemic, but I know I could not have done it without this past decade in other spaces, I’m looking forward to applying all that I’ve learned in the next one.”
He also hopes to bring similar opportunities to others. “I have always been a teacher trying to send the elevator back down. It was something else I’m grateful was beaten into us at Bucks. I taught students from my college and others after uni. I also set up a training program at Mistress to help the departments communicate better, and was part of Fullscreen’s executive ‘Collab’ program. I was creative support for AT&T’s LGBTQ+ (Turn Up The Love) and POC (The Mentorship Program) outreach programs,” related Forrest who affirmed it’s important to help other aspiring filmmaking/storytelling voices so that they can be heard.