SCA Spotlight On…Art Director Mentor, Rob MacGillivray

1. Tell us a bit about your creative career.

I’m horrified to discover my career goes back over 35 years. Most of that time I was a filmmaker. A director, producer and writer. Mixed in there, I have also been an animator, designer and editor. Currently, I enjoy myself making corporate Corporate films, being a professional  artist and, of course, teaching at SCA and LCC (Film and Television). Career highlight – I once trod in the same pool of sick as Bernado Bertolucci in Soho.

2. What did your journey to a creative career look like?

I’m from London. I started my film career in Music Videos. Then I moved to Commercials. Then I moved to mainstream television where I directed and produced a range of different drama and comedy. Growing up, I was fascinated by how powerful film could be. That’s what I wanted to do.  I also love comic books or graphic novels if you want to sound grown up. Sadly I don’t make them. Yet. The mix of words and images in a sequential art combines many of my other interests.

3. Why and what do you teach here at SCA?

Argh!  I’m in my sixth year teaching at SCA now. How did that happen? I need to get out more. My specialism is moving image and storytelling. However, like all the other mentors, I’m pretty good at design, copywriting, idea formation and development and a wide range of communication channels. I do a bit of practical teaching with cameras, lighting and post production when students need it. I have no choice in mentoring at SCA. Once you do it, it gets under your skin and you can’t leave it. It’s the best there is at what it does. Where else would you go? And why?

4. What do you love about mentoring at the school?

I love learning. Simple as. A day when I don’t learn anything is a day wasted for me. There are literally no days at SCA when I have not been taught something by the students or by the other mentors. The diversity and passion among the student cohort is incredibly exciting. Trust me, I’ve taught other places, the energy in this place is special.

5. You’re an esteemed member of our selection day panel. Top tips for success.

DO – surprise, entertain and educate your audience. Reveal human truths either about yourself or all of us. DON’T – just try and shock us or tell us something we already know. Assume your audience is smarter than you. (Yeah, this obviously goes for all presentations and films of any kind at any level. It’s simple. Amazing how often people mess it up.)

6. Recommended Reading for life at the school.

Books – glancing at my bookshelf and picking random three that others might not mention: Art Speigelman ‘Maus’, Peter Rubie and Gary Provost ‘How To Tell A Story’, Tim Harford ‘How To Make The World Add Up’. Podcasts – 99% Invisible. Shows – Don’t get me started. All and every art and design show at a gallery or on TV. Consume culture at all levels. There is no such thing as useless knowledge. At this school you will draw on every single thing you have ever learned or done in your life. Learn more. Do more. Or you will run out of things to say.

7. What skills do you think someone needs to be a ‘creative’?

Good communication comes from enjoying playing with images and words. If you don’t enjoy that, you probably don’t want to be a ‘creative’. (Hate that word at a deep visceral level). If you do enjoy those things you can learn EVERYTHING else, whatever your starting point.

8. Why do you think SCA students are so successful?

SCA has a unique way of selecting students. That’s a warning. And it’s only the start. The mentor system means that the learning is intense with lots of contact time and very full days. Every day. Every week. You learn with the best and from each other. There is no other Communications course that offers this level of personal tutoring and commitment to excellence in every thing you do. If you survive all that, of course you are going to be successful in your career. Everything afterwards is a piece of piss.

9. Top tips to succeed in the creative industry.

Remain positive. Negativity is a luxury for other people. Not you. Remember, you are doing this because it is fun. And better than doing a real job.

10. How should a student approach life at SCA to ensure they get the very best out of it?

Be willing to change.

Follow Rob on Instagram @robmacgillivrayart and check out his art at

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