If you make or commission commercial moving image content, look at the floor.
Not in disgrace you understand – you might see it moving beneath your feet. There’s a tectonic shift of the client, agency and production plates under foot, the world of commercial content creation for TV and the web is mid-evolution.
(I cared very little for Geography at school so apologies if the above makes little scientific sense.)
Advertising agencies are opening up or buying in production and post facilities; clients are developing their in-house resources and working directly with production companies who in turn are extending their offerings to creative and post. Meanwhile, post companies are offering production arms and jumping in bed with sound houses while digital agencies and PR companies are eyeing up each other’s turf. It’s all very Ron Burgundy.
If you were to draw a Venn Diagram of the traditional advertising process – three overlapping circles for the client, agency and production company working in perfect harmony – one of the few individuals who tends to sit in the overlapping union is the director. So if the circles change shape and give birth to sub-circles, how does this affect those in the middle?
(As you may tell, maths wasn’t one of my A levels either…)
This year I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many brilliant directors as we develop our hotlist of directing talent at Maker. Coffee-fuelled lamentation and celebration – shaking our fists in shared frustration and dreaming of the possibilities.
One topic under discussion is of course exclusivity. Only a few years ago exclusivity was king (broadly speaking) and it certainly makes sense at the top end of the scale – the Big Boys making Big Ads with Big Budgets for Big Clients.
However, in the growing branded content arena there’s an increasing pressure on budgets. This is a broad market with a multitude of production companies, agencies and hybrids all adapting to earn their share – as they evolve is exclusivity still mutually beneficial for both the director and the production company?
Let’s think of it all as a big, lavish, adult party – masks and flesh and creepy music a la Eyes Wide Shut. As a director and production duo are you better off as swingers exploring other opportunities and gaining new experiences before slinking off in a 4am Uber for a much-needed shower?
(I did much better at English – they must have liked the analogies.)
Certainly appealing. However, I’ve read enough “Dear Diedre” to know that variety isn’t always the spice of life. Think of the many benefits of exclusivity that have made it the traditional route: on-going collaboration between director and production growing in tandem, continually working together to improve their craft; constant representation from the company who are directly invested in the director’s success.
Based on many of our recent conversations with directing talent I wouldn’t be surprised if we increasingly see a shift away from exclusivity as the industry norm. True our “survey methodology” is unlikely to win us any research awards – essentially we’ve been chatting with directors who we think create truly great work, while drinking lots of coffee – but is does get you thinking…
For example, if we see an increase in nomadic directors grazing across the production plains, how will that affect the pitching process? Will the character and experience of the production company start to come more to the fore? Will those commissioning content increasingly consider not only the company’s production prowess (problem solving / communication / maximizing the budget / supporting the director / ensuring the brief gets nailed) but also how its culture clicks with theirs?
Certainly any such shift in talent can only make a collaborative approach from production companies even more crucial – this has long been our ethos and it has been a key consideration while developing our roster.
As I write, our site’s update is going live with some of the most exciting directing talent we’ve met, keen to forge ahead in the world of content creation alongside Maker – we look forward to seeing you at the party…
Luke Toyne, May 2015
What do you think the future holds as the industry shifts? Let me know your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org