Icons+Innovators

Peter Grasse

Founder & Producer, Mr+Positive Tokyo

shots Cannes 2024 Focus
Created with shots Treatments

We could easily show recognition to Peter Grasse purely for his stunning sartorial selections and for being, more often than not, the best dressed man in any room. However, Grasse is as much substance as he is style, being an award-winning producer who has worked with and helped shape some of Asia Pacific’s most renowned production companies.

In 2004 Grasse joined Curious Film in Auckland as the company’s General Manger. During his time there he launched new offices in Sydney and Singapore and, under his leadership, the company was awarded three Cannes Grands Prix and a trio of Gold Lions, as well as being named by Ciclope as Asia Pacific Production Company of the Year from 2013 to 2015.

In 2016 Grasse moved to Japan, opening his production and post company Mr+Positive, a name which reflects his unending optimistic outlook. Working with directors including Ryan Staake, Rodrigo Saavedra and Helen Clemens, the company has produced work for brands such as Nike, adidas, Asahi, Lexus and Porsche. He has also been chairman of the Film Craft jury at Ciclope and Spikes, and served on juries for Cannes Lions, Adfest, Axis, and Adstars.

Over the coming pages Grasse explains what the benefits of Cannes are for him and his team, and why he got the nickname Mr Positive in the first place.

What’s your favourite piece of work from the last 12 months?

I'm deeply immersed in my projects, and my favourite among them is our recent Suntory -196 American launch, with JLNY and Mr+ director, Hiroshi Kikukuchi. It marked a significant milestone for us in Japan, showcasing our ability to assemble Japan's dream-team director, DOP, gaffer and production designer to create world-class, expertly-crafted work right in our own backyard.

Another standout project was Booba's 6G music video. We dedicated every minute of three months to it, and I'm incredibly proud of the Mr+Japanese team. Despite not being credited by the French-Thai producers, our Japanese crew truly over-delivered. It's amazing what people can achieve when they believe in their work.

A most memorable project involved Mr+ buying a 50kg tuna and serving it to our crew at the wrap party. Many people come to Japan wanting to shoot the tuna auctions, but not everyone has the courage to buy one. It was a bold and delicious decision.

How long have you been coming to Cannes, and what’s your fondest memory of the festival?

My first trip to Cannes was in 2004, so this marks my 20th year. My fondest memory was winning two Grands Prix and collecting a Gold Lion for our work with Taika Waititi. Another highlight was the still legendary Riviera Rehab party we hosted with Bob Industries and Young Guns. Additionally, we once shot an award-winning commercial for the brand Zuji in a Cannes hotel room, which was my most fun multi-tasking.

This year is special as I’m bringing my daughter Hana Grasse. It’s her first festival. She’s Ms. Positive, and it’s incredible to be here together 20 years after she was born.

Are awards important?

Award shows are important; the awards themselves perhaps not. Having served on many juries, including Cannes, I've seen that jury room outcomes don't always reflect the best work. Still, the best results come from in-person deliberations, as online judging often seems more random and insignificant

The gathering of like-minded people to celebrate great work is the most significant benefit of the award system. The incentive to create ideas worthy of awards is a positive outcome, especially since awards often recognise work with clear human insight, unlike some popular but frivolous social-media trends

If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?

First and foremost, I love what I do. I always tell young people to pursue something that results in a tangible product. Advertising is wonderful because we create something with an identifiable finish, and we have a fantastic product to show for our efforts. Additionally, the tradition of throwing a wrap party after every shoot is just ridiculously fun.

If I could change anything, I wish producing a great result was held in higher importance than constantly documenting its creation. Also, I wish the industry focused more on clean living and mindfulness. Perhaps that’s my future.

Who or what has most influenced your career?

My brother Steve Grasse, who had an advertising company called Gyro Worldwide (now Quaker City Mercantile), has been a big influence. He came up with the concepts for Hendrick's Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum and showed me that advertising could be fun and worthwhile.

My father had an incredible work ethic, which I think is the most beneficial personality trait of a producer. The young recruits at Mr+Positive in Tokyo are also inspiring. It’s a fantastic industry to be in, and it’s inspiring to see their motivation. Each year, I bring all our Tokyo staff to Cannes to give them a vision of what the industry is about beyond the sometimes mundane tasks we need to complete as a necessity of our being great producers. The benefit of including them in Cannes clearly shows.

What piece of work makes you think, ‘I wish I’d made that’?

Anything directed by Traktor, Taika Waititi, Hrioshi Kikuchi, Fred De Pontcharra or Tom Kuntz, such as Apple Powered. These directors are incredibly talented and a joy to work with. There are so many creative minds out there that I admire and would love to collaborate with.

Great work often comes from great fun people, and being part of such projects is always inspiring. We’ve all worked for a team of unhappy assholes. That’s such a drag!! It’s the passion and creativity of the people behind the work that truly makes it special.

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

The name of my company, Mr+Positive, wasn’t my idea but rather my wife’s. She has been calling me Mr+Positive (sometimes not in a positive way) for the last 25 years. In New Zealand, we lived on top of a hill in a house built by a boatie, with a ship’s toilet and shower, which she wasn’t fond of. All I could say was, “Look at the view of Rangitoto! What a sunset! It’s gorgeous!” To which she replied, “Whatever, Mr+Positive.” That name truly represents me, and I’m very thankful for my wife for embracing my relentless positivity!

Icons+Innovators

Over the course of this week we will be celebrating some of the people who are at the heart of advertising's creative landscape, those who - whether creatives, directors, producers or other craftspeople - have made a lasting impact on the business.

Alongside specially commissioned portraits, taken by photographer Julian Hanford, we will be asking our subjects about the work they most admire, both new and old, what Cannes means to them, and what they might change about the industry if they could.

This interview series was created with

shots

treatments

Your all-in-one treatment app. Manage your media, draft your content, design and deliver your treatment... all in one place.

Join the waitlist now

This interview series was created with...

1 / 0
Icons + Innovators. Peter Grasse, Mr+Positive Tokyoshots
Download