Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Head of Creative at HIFEN Studios, Charlie Hoare!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?

I’m Charlie Hoare and I’m currently Head of Creative at HIFEN Studios, I have always worked in television or production starting my career at Crow TV as a runner following graduating from University. I then spent some time working at another independent production company and then Sky as assistant editor before making my way to B-Engaged and now HIFEN.

Charlie Hoare
On the set of The Unseen Journey. Photo credit: Joshua Johnson
What do you do in your current role?

My current role really varies from day-to-day but I manage a small team of very talented creatives at our studios in London. Being an emerging creative studio, the briefs can vary from client to client but a large part of my role includes creating stories, arranging productions and liaising with clients. This can be an athlete, who wants an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at his life, or a major brand wanting to launch a new football boot. It’s myself and the teams job to come up with a creative solutions for the client. 

What does a normal week look like for you?

I have spent almost 2 years working on Arsenal vice-captain and Spain International Héctor Bellerín’s documentary, The Unseen Journey. In it we detail Hector’s recovery from an ACL injury that kept him out for the best part of 18-months.

Hector Bellerín
Behind the scenes of The Unseen Journey. Photo credit: Joshua Johnson

Whilst working on the film, my world would largely consist of either waiting for a delayed flight or Uber between sitting in the edit reviewing hours of footage. I would get briefed by Héctor’s team on when he would be available to film and either myself or one of the experienced videographers would go and shoot for whatever was taking place that day.

It was hard at times to manage, as trying to align with an international and Premier League footballer’s busy schedule was challenging – especially during everything with COVID. When on shoot, you would sometimes wait for hours for that one moment you knew would make the edit. An example comes to mind when he made his comeback against Nottingham Forest, after the somewhat difficult process of getting clearance to film at the Emirates – it must be said Arsenal always tried to accommodate me but sometimes league licenses restrict what could and couldn’t be filmed.

Héctor played a starring role in his first game back, coming off the bench to a standing ovation before setting up a goal with his first touch. From a filming perspective, prior to the game, this was meant to very much be a box ticking exercise. A key part of the story, but not one that needed to be overly glamorous or dramatic, merely one to show another part of the story.

Whilst packing away and rechecking footage, I realised Héctor was, to my surprise, still out on the pitch doing extra sprints in order to build up his fitness. A usual requirement for a player recovering from a major injury. Straight away I knew where this would sit in the film, one of the episodes I wanted to show that whilst these players might be back and on the team-sheet, really it’s just another part of their recovery. The rain was hammering down, the flood lights were still on full beam and it started to feel very significant seeing an almost visual metaphor for his own recovery process to that point. Him alone in an empty stadium, being watched by a team of physios putting his body through it, again. It’s all about capturing the bigger moment.

Now with the documentary finished my week looks a lot more mundane! We start the week with morning zooms into everyone’s bedroom or living rooms. I then catch up with the lead creatives, motion graphics team, production crew and account managers to make sure they are on track for deadlines I have set with the client, this meeting allows everyone to know where things are and offers full transparency across the team. Certain jobs can take longer than others and it’s being as clear as you can to make the process smoother. As well as managing the team I myself will have my own projects to work on, I’ll be developing ideas and campaign stories for clients and depending where we are with the campaign I will also direct and post produce the project from start to finish.

Charlie Hoare and Hector Bellerín
Charlie Hoare and Héctor Bellerín on set for The Unseen Journey documentary. Photo credit: Joshua Johnson
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?

Being a big football fan I always wanted to work within sport and thankfully through B-Engaged (a digital marketing agency co-founded by Hector)  then now to HIFEN I’ve been able to achieve that. I think working on early in my career on projects that were, shall we say a little less interesting, made me realise that I wanted to work in something I am passionate about. The idea of getting to work on a project that combined my love of sport, predominantly football, and editing was really the dream. 

What’s been your favourite moment whilst working in sports?

From a personal perspective, I would have to be selfish and say working on Pro Evolution Soccer’s latest campaign. I developed solely the social adverts for this year release of the game. From sitting in my office and writing rough scripts on my pad, to then having one of my favourite players in the world, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowksi say it back to me on shoot was incredibly surreal. Added to the fact I have played/was addicted to the game as a child, it was quite a moment for me.

What do you think is next for your industry?

I think long-documentary pieces, like the Michael Jordan one, always have something behind it. There seems to be a demand for the stories behind the athletes or them “looking cool” it’s more about the substance and person behind the athlete. 

Going forward I think there will be more of this type of content available for audiences and with the likes of Amazon Prime and Netflix investing a lot more into sport this can only be a good thing. 

One of the things that we were always been conscious of at HIFEN is detailing what an athlete is really like and showing their passions or interests. It seems now through the great work the likes of Hector is doing for the environment and Marcus Rashford incredible campaigning for children more are beginning to take note. 

Hector Bellerín
Héctor Bellerín. Photo credit: Joshua Johnson
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?

One piece of advice I would give anyone wanting to work in the creative industry is make it your life, even if you aren’t in a ‘role’ there’s so much you can do at home, off your own back. You can sit at home and perfect your craft on YouTube through tutorials and there’s countless videos exploring peoples shooting styles techniques. I never questioned what I wanted to do as it was a hobby of mine for so long, I’m now very privileged that I can call it my job, so as long as you have the love for it, the job role will find you. 

How to follow Charlie Hoare on social media…

I’m grateful that at HIFEN Studio (you can follow them on Instagram under @HIFEN.Studios) I now have the platform to collaborate with brands and work alongside a pool of  creative people.  I’d really appreciate you watching the documentary, if for nothing else to take pity on the fact we sat though countless 4am edit sessions to get over the line!  You can watch it on Hector’s YouTube and please do let me know what you think (and drop me a follow on @charles.shebaniah!)

Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Charlie Hoare! Make sure you head over to Héctor’s YouTube channel to watch his new documentary, The Unseen Journey.

If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.