David Zander, President

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Were you expecting to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes? You weren't there to receive the honor.

My son was about to have his first birthday. I'd gone to AICP and I was able to bring him along to New York with me, but I didn't really want to spend any time away from him. That's the main reason I didn't go.

What does winning this honor mean for your company?

It's definitely better to have won than to have lost, but I don't know if it will have any effect. It probably helps us to be better known in Europe. You never really know for sure about the size of your presence. You just try to put your head down and do as much good work as you possibly can and hope that you do well in awards shows and hope you continue to work. I think anybody will admit these are hard times for us all, and anything that's positive is a great thing. All the companies in the Top 10 stand to benefit from this award. I think America can tend to be pretty insular. Less and less today, but traditionally it's pretty domestic, and I think now things are opening up, which is good news.

What do you think of the boards you've seen in the past year?

It's harder and harder to find the good work, and when you find it, to get it. There are so many good people out there who want it and are available and in many cases are willing to do what it takes to get it. From my perspective, it's the hardest time ever. There are so many good people available who say, "Wait this is one of 10 or 12 projects in a year that are any good-I want this one," and they pull out all the stops to get it. We're not dealing with stupid competitors. These guys are smart, they're talented, they know what they're doing and know how to get good work. It's tough.

These days a lot of people seem to be diversifying outside of the traditional commercials realm. Your company seems more focused on commercials. Do you think that helps at awards shows?

I basically feel that we're in the talent business. This is the world we know. If you're going to be in the features business, you should be in it all the time, because if you're not, then you're really on the outside. You only have a certain amount of life energy and if you don't use it in a focused way, then you really don't get anything done. It could be argued that it's those people who are closest to the clients who will determine where this stuff airs. I'm sure there are companies with very strong direct client relationships. We have strong client relationships, but we have stronger agency relationships. We don't want to become an ad agency; although the guys we represent are really smart from an advertising point of view, they've chosen to direct. And they're certainly in a position to help create the advertising, given the set of parameters an agency needs. I think it's a division of labor issue whereby the agencies are going to ultimately say, "Hey, this is going to run on your watch or on the internet." And they'll look to partner with people to create the content that will air where they want it to air. That's where we'll come in.

What do you think the awards shows, Cannes in particular, represent for production companies?

They're good PR for any company. It's nice for the directors. I'm representing really talented guys who are winning the awards. Cannes is the only venue that gives an award to the production company. It's kind of funny, because in actuality they're tabulating the work of the directors and giving us the prize for that. That's great, but you have to give credit to the directors. Without them, what are you doing? I'm really happy for the guys. I have to thank them for allowing us to have any kind of honor at all at the awards show. We're like housewives from the 1950s-we get our strength from our men.

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