The Rascal King of Breakaway’s Content Studio: Interview with Mark Higgins

Dave Knies

As we grow our team at Breakaway, we always search for deep subject matter experts looking to bring their unique experience and skills to a different kind of agency. Our new Senior Director of Content, Mark Higgins, definitely fits this description. Mark recently joined us after a long tenure at Arnold Worldwide, with a resume that included many other amazing accomplishments: ten years as roadie / bodyguard / videographer with iconic Boston band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, director of the video for the Dropkick Murphys' legendary song, "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" (with 85 million YouTube views) and the well-known Tom Brady / UNREAL Candy video. Mark's Vimeo page highlights much of his work. 

Mark is a proud Dorchester native (is there any other kind?) and has quickly elevated and expanded Breakaway's video and content capabilities. (For a sampling of our recent work, see Breakaway's Vimeo page). We're excited to introduce him to the Breakaway community!

First off, you were a bodyguard + roadie for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones? How did you get that job? How long did you do it? 

For about 10 years - but I’ve been friends with the band since my teens. I joined the military and shortly after I got out, they hired me. They weren’t really a “bodyguard-having"-type band. It was more about crowd control, keep the show moving-type security. In the early days, their live shows would border on absolute chaos with the band playing like their hair was on fire and the fans dancing and diving everywhere, I did my best to regulate that. As the band got bigger the job evolved, it was a fun time. Great group of guys. 

What is the best story from your time with the band (suitable for sharing on an agency blog)? 

I’ll save all the NSFW stories for the book and video and just say the best story is the story of The Bosstones' success. They worked hard for the everything they achieved. I was fortunate to have a front row seat and a video camera to capture it all. 

You also have had a long career in the Boston agency world. Where did you work + what did you do there before joining Breakaway? 

Once I had done enough editing to put a reel together, I managed to get a informational with Ellen Wallett who headed up video services at Arnold Worldwide. After our meeting she brought me onboard. She was so incredible to take a chance on me. Having a opportunity to work with and be around creative minds like Ron Lawner, Pete Favat, Wade Devers to name a few and work under the production tutalage of Margie Sullivan and Bill Goodell was invaluable. I was at Arnold for about 13 years before our video production department became it’s own entity called Studio 6 when we moved from the Back Bay to Downtown Crossing, I was there for a few years. Arnold also allowed me the freedom to create work outside the agency. In my time there working with brands like Titleist, Truth and Ocean Spray to name a few.

I also created music videos/EPK’s for bands. I was able to work extensively with Dropkick Murphys on video projects and also watched as they grew to become internationally known.

I’ve also worked for Crunch Brands for several years as a hired gun working on brands like Sperry Top-Sider and Unreal Candy. Having the opportunity to work with Michael Bronner and Tom Brady on UNREAL Candy projects was such a amazing experience. 

What got you excited about Breakaway? 

(Breakaway CEO) Ted Schlueter! I’ve worked with Ted for years. When he approached me about joining his team full time at Breakaway it was a no brainer. Ted is one of the most passionate, driven, dedicated individuals I know. His enthusiasm is contagious. It’s a great atmosphere here, the team is incredibly talented, from Account Services to Creative to Strategy, very nimble, specialized and detail oriented. It's refreshing.

Now that you're done sucking up to Ted, how do you describe “Content”? 

Content in my world is everything. I know the actual word “content” is overused and has connotations of just filling time these days but it doesn’t take away from it’s importance. Our clients are looking for the best, most creative and cost effective ways of getting their message out. Through social media, blogs like this or one of the several other streams, clients want compelling, engaging content to reach their audience. They need it faster than ever too! I made a career out of running and gunning in my early days and now that style has seem to have caught up partially due to the advent of smaller, high resolution cameras. Agencies have been bringing a lot of their video production work in house, with a emphasis on turning the work around much faster than previously. I was in a meeting not too long ago at a shop that shall remain nameless where that “new” strategy was revealed, all I could say was "What took you so long!" 

Who is doing great work out in the world that inspires you? 

Visual artist Casey McPerry does fantastic work. If you get a chance, check out his Instagram page where he showcases his talents, it's mind boggling in it’s depth and construction. I clicked on a video in his feed and a Roomba vacuum cleaner activated and vacuumed his Insta page, just incredible. It really got me excited about the possibilities of Instagram and thinking outside that little grid. Another young photographer who’s work I really like is Chris Rocco. Chris has such a great eye with his photography - he’s another artist that squeezes all the possibilities he can get out of Instagram to showcase his work.

Your son, Malcolm, has also joined our team as one of our “Secret Weapons”. What’s it like working with your son? 

Oh man, it is a joy. Malcolm inspires me everyday too. Watching him work with the team, contribute and grow has been amazing and surreal at times. He really has his finger on the pulse of new music, new artists, new designers, what’s in with the young people these days and what’s out. He's also working with young local rappers with his photography and video, helping get their name and music out there all the while honing his own art and skills. (Follow Malcolm Higgins on Instagram). There has been a few awkward moments at the agency or on shoots where I call him “sweetheart” in front of people. I need to work on not doing that.


Who is the OG "Rascal King" in the Bosstones' song?

The song is about former Boston mayor James Michael Curley. In the video he’s played by Mickey Rooney’s son, and I play a dirty cop on the take! The band included me in a few of their videos and I even make a small appearance in the movie Clueless, good times!