The Sweet Shop's Prodco Without Borders Adds More Talent

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Director Paul Goldman.
Director Paul Goldman.

Auckland-based production company The Sweet Shop has added director Paul Goldman to its growing roster of international talent. The signing reunites Goldman with Steve Dickstein—now Sweet Shop global president and managing partner—for the first time since both were at Partizan. The addition of Goldman is just one in a flurry of new developments in the past six months, most notably the addition of Dickstein, formerly of Propaganda Films and Partizan North America, last fall, and Japanese director Mr. Hide back in December. Goldman cites the Sweet Shop's global focus as a prime reason for the signing. "I was attracted to their forward-thinking, worldwide support platform because it's from this that I can best accomplish what agencies now need from directors."

While establishing a stronger presence in the U.S., the company continues to tout its global model as not only unique in the business, but particularly suited to this economic climate. Rather than partnering with various "local" production companies in different markets or sharing its directors internationally, the Sweet Shop principals say its model is set up to offer agencies the best production solution because neither the company nor its directors are constrained by the traditional border issues.

"The (traditional) models are proving limited in today's environment," says Sweet Shop CEO and managing partner Paul Prince. "With production company partnerships, both companies have separate brand ambitions and structures and therefore need individualistic business models to support this. They end up doubling up to share local markets and support their separate and individual rosters. This (type of) partnership does not fundamentally support a global offering, for their directors, agencies and clients. When directors are represented by multiple production companies, you meet the same problems. Now when you add that there is an inevitability of global economics and the desire of directors, agencies and their clients to find the most efficient and effective global production solutions, you recognize that the baggage from separate groups of self interest does not serve their request well."

With offices in Auckland, New York, Chicago, London and Shanghai, the Sweet Shop aims to treat each region of the world as its headquarters. "There's incentive in the company to only do what's best for customers," says Dickstein. "Some companies, if you send a job overseas to shoot, the local production company suffers. In our company, it doesn't matter. If the job comes from London and shoots in South Africa, [it] makes the same amount of money than if it's shot in London. Other companies have financial incentives to keep things local."

This line of thinking is inextricably linked to the type of talent the company recruits. Directors need to share the Sweet Shop's penchant for agility. Dickstein cites the first job the company did with director David Gaddie: "It was a Dubai client, a U.K. job, shot by a U.S. director in Shanghai and posted in Sydney. That was just the best solution."

Both Prince and Dickstein point to the Sweet Shop's lack of financial red tape between international offices as a distinct advantage in today's economy. "The idea is to have efficiency built into the thinking," says Dickstein. "If the most practical place to do (a production job) is L.A., then it is. However, many times you can do it more efficiently elsewhere, whether Budapest, Bucharest or Santiago, Chile. All companies are talking about this, but it's built into the DNA of our company. From the directors we're signing on, to how we do jobs, it's always been about problem solving and solutions. Find the solutions that will allow people to love the creative but execute it in a cost effective way."
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