Production Index

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The Creativity - the average number of spots produced by a selection of agency offices - made gains in August, rising to its highest level since March. There was also a slight gain over the same strike-hobbled month last year. The Los Angeles Film Office, meanwhile, reports that commercial shooting days there more than doubled compared to last August, while still falling 10 percent short of the strike-free August of 1999. Of course, since September 11th the picture has changed, bringing uncertainty to everything from public safety to the economy to the production industry. Many New York shops, like Chelsea Pictures - which has offices in SoHo - experienced long work interruptions. "We didn't work for one week," says executive producer Steve Wax. "We were unable to get into our offices until the following Monday and it took probably a few more days to get psychologically adjusted." And stoppages were not limited to houses near the attack. "I would say that nine out of 10 things that were shooting in America on the 11th just stopped," says Bryan Farhy, executive producer at Los Angeles-based BrandTV. "People were just too freaked out . Especially out here, where most people have connections to New York."

So while production flow was beginning to show signs of life, most agree that September will be a wash. According to Wax, not only were many jobs stopped, many were halted just as they were about to be awarded. Now many clients are going back to the drawing board rather than moving forward. "I don't see a lot of work coming out now," he says. "I think the biggest issue is that clients are trying to figure out what to do. First, because they don't have the money. And second, they don't know what to say."

About the Index The Creativity (CPI) is an informal measure for tracking the flow of broadcast commercials production. Each month, we ask a number of agency offices how many spots they have put into production. The CPI is an average of the numbers provided by sample agencies that range in annual billings from $400 million to $2.9 billion. Our sample includes: Leo Burnett/Chicago, McCann-Erickson/New York, FCB/San Francisco, GSD&M/Austin, Deutsch/NewYork, Wieden & Kennedy/Portland, Fallon/Minneapolis, WestWayne/Atlanta, and The Martin Agency/Richmond.

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