Editor's Letter

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There was such an astonishing outpouring of wit and wisdom at our inaugural Agency Heads of Production Roundtable, not all of it could be contained on the pages in our Report (see p.27).

Here are some gold nuggets from the editing room floor:

Matt Bijarchi divulges that he was, at one time, a butler.

Jennifer Golub relays Lee Clow's idea for a new designation for producers:

"Lee Clow has said to me that we should call account people producers because they should make sure stuff gets produced. We should be the realizers because we are realizing everything."

CP+B's Dave Rolfe cites the influence of "culture guy" at his agency:

"One of the partners at the agency I call cuture guy. If he feels like something isn't Crispin or it's not right, no matter how big it is, he'll duck into corners and he'll fuck things up. He'll say wait, that seems like the way it would be done at a big company or whatever. And he'll do something strange or some stunt will happen and it will literally come from the top because he'll try to instill cultural... something. I can't define it."

Rupert Samuel says personal skills are king when it comes to choosing directors.

"We won't go with anyone unless we feel that they are going to get on with us from a chemistry standpoint. You've got to have people working together and that's the biggest deal. I prefer to work with the smallest guy in the world as a director that they all get on with from a creative standpoint than work with whoever it might be from the top end."

What was left in was frank, sometimes edgy talk of everything from editors to cost consultants (and I'm expecting calls from those and other contingents requesting rebuttal roundtables of their own). Overall, the roundtable provided an enlightening look at the realities of producing good work in a ridiculously demanding climate. Though the tales were sometimes chilling, there was surprisingly little bitching and moaning and, predictably, a high level of resourcefulness dedicated to, as Nancy Axthelm describes it, "making it happen" in commercials and beyond. And lots of interesting ideas from agencies across the size/ownership spectrum like CP+B's new integrated production structure, and Y&R/Chicago's production-forward initiative to sell work. The Chicago office of the not exactly boutiquey agency has sought to harness the force of great production values by self-financing full-on production of ideas it believes in, the better to sell them to key clients (and possibly, the better to plant the seeds of an agency model of content ownership).

What was clear was that everyone in the room faced many of the same challenges, many of them revolving around time and budgets. But if this discussion could be distilled down to a few key elements, they would be these: culture and trust. The quality/quantity of both are great predictors of the quality of what ends up on the screen.

And speaking of culture, a new one has landed in New York. Cover person Paul Lavoie, a storied agency head himself, sets up shop with a new Gotham Taxi operation. Lavoie talks about his agency's assumption-blasting culture of doubt in our feature (p. 24).

Who's your culture guy?

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