Editor's Letter

By Published on .

It's the early oughts and we work in what is meant to be a culturally sophisticated industry full of forward-thinking people. Is it really necessary to spend our time and angst talking about women in the workplace? After all, making gender distinctions in terms of one's ability to do a job is as ridiculous as arguing that evolution isn't the only ... oh, right. As the sound of Chuck Darwin whirring in his grave suggests (look for the remake: Inherit the Wind II: Back to the Garden, coming to a theater near you) perhaps we have to admit we're not as evolved as we like to think we are. So we've included the perspectives of some (highly evolved) people on the question "where are the female creative directors?" in this issue (p. 6).

And on the subject of evolution, this issue also marks that annual rite of autumn, the Creativity New Directors Report. In the case of this year's crop, the phrase new director seems more applicable than ever. Many of the talents covered here really do represent a new director-a multitasker and master of the new low-budget multiplatform reality, who is equally comfortable behind the camera and on the desktop, creating concepts and manipulating images, seeing projects through to visually diverse conclusions. Reflecting the general transitional energy that's gripping the industry as a whole, the director game now seems to embody a best of times/worst of times dynamic. On one hand, it's a harder time than ever to grow and manage a director's career-with larger industry changes mitigating against the production company/director model as it stands, the (arguably) waning influence of the TV commercial itself, the downward pressure on budgets and schedules, more competition from heavyweight directors competing against flyweights for interesting work and the move to more nimble and cost effective means of production. On the other hand, you have a potential reinvention of the role of production company and director, with more kinds of projects available to directors who might ply their vision in commercials and longer-form episodes for a handful of screens. Negotiating the space between those hands is the central challenge of production companies now.

As Bob Greenberg noted in his speech at the recent ANA annual conference (you may have already seen his talk on the future of the agency at Cannes), multiplying channels will change the production game along with the agency and client model (p. 30). Greenberg isn't shy about predicting a major shakeup for the production model as we know it, and he will point to his own company's setup as an example-a setup that embraces collaboration, efficient digital production, repurposing assets and, as part of all this, emerging directors.

On a final note on new directors, it seems appropriate to note that two of the 30 directors we mention are women (a result uninfluenced by any affirmative action measures). That beats last year's total of zero. Once again, a demonstration of the breakneck progress for which the industry is famous.

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