Borderland Studios co-founders and directing duo Simon Frost and Ben Hanson have opened Witness, a production company offering purpose-led branded film production and editing that goes against the trend of AI and “ever-more automated, cookie-cutter content”. 

The move marks the end of Borderland Studios, which Frost and Hanson set up in 2019 with co-founder Zoe Barlow. 

Frost and Hanson hope to inspire the next generation of young directing talent to learn the craft of raw, real, emotive storytelling that connects on a human level.  

“We’re seeing with AI video generation like Sora that much of what we do as an industry will soon be available with a few well-crafted text prompts,” Frost said. 

“Once this takes over, the value and appetite for genuine human experiences, authentic expression and real-time moments captured on film will only increase.” 

Witness’ first work will break at the end of this month for Microsoft’s Xbox, with more work to follow in April and June. 

Over their careers, the pair have worked for brands including Lexus, Xbox, Gillette, Peroni, the BBC, Amnesty International, Reuters, The Guardian, Wimbledon, Oppo, Axa, Dell, Intel, iD Mobile, and The Prince’s Trust.  

They met at CHI & Partners (now The&Partnership) in 2015, where they were both directors for Carbon, the agency’s production company.

Frost and Hanson worked together on campaigns including Lexus’ hoverboard campaign “Slide” (below) and iD Mobile’s “Do your own thing”, which told the stories of extraordinary people from all corners of the world.   

They left CHI & Partners to set up Borderland Studios in 2019. 

In 2022, Frost and Hanson won the Pharma Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for “I will always be me” (below) for Dell and Intel by VML. The campaign banked the voices of people living with motor neurone disease.

Lexus’ 2015 “Slide” won the Gold Cyber Lion at Cannes and the Eurobest Grand Prix. 

Hanson said: “In an industry of ever-more-automated, increasingly glossy content, Witness’s trademark authentic, emotive human storytelling will stand apart. Brands coming to Witness will get work that is instantly identifiable as Witness, that cuts through and connects on a deeper level.

“Talent coming to Witness will have all the infrastructure for authentic, documentary-style filmmaking at their disposal, from specialised casting agents to story researchers and editors who excel in our unique, timeless brand of storytelling.”

This story originally appeared on Campaign US.