Creatives and Producers Grapple With a New Era of Production

Those in the Thick of It Weight in on Costs, Digital and Specialization

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As noted here previously, production ain't what it used to be. It's a lot more. Genuine collaboration is often necessary to bring a big, platform-spanning idea to life, and that collaboration means it's often harder to determine the line between creation and execution. For its annual production issue, Creativity canvassed those in the thick of it -- agency creatives and producers from "traditional" and digital-type companies alike. Here, repurposed for your enjoyment, are some of their ruminations.

The biggest concerns when it comes to production as we know it? Well, cost for starters. "The budgets, especially for traditional advertising, keep shrinking, and clients want more for the buck they pay. In addition, the cost of talent is rising to the point of an unreasonable level." Here's another one: "Lack of understanding. A friend of mine (who was a traditional art director) said that he thought interactive was cheap and quick. [In reality, it's] expensive and time-consuming. Many people lack a decent understanding of what it takes to do interactive work." -- Rei Inamoto, global creative director, AKQA

"There are really two main concerns: cost and quality. ... When it comes to cost and interactive production, there really are two extremes at play. One extreme is that you have interactive productions that require the same high-end special effects and quality that television requires. There still is a huge misconception that because the production is going to be on the web, it is going to be cheaper. In fact, the cost will most likely increase because, in addition, you now need to make that content interactive! On the other extreme, you have concepts that require a streamlined, cost-effective method of production. That means having people on the team who wear more than one hat. The new term 'preditor' -- producer, shooter, editor -- describes this new emerging group of filmmakers." -- Christine Beardsell, creative director, Digitas/Third Act

Are production companies keeping up? "In general, I've noticed a healthy influx of interactive capabilities, 'one-stop shop' content makers and other longer-form talent, like episodic television directors, now being represented though commercial production companies. Then there are support services, like digital and graphic design, in-house editorial, ancillary production work. ... On a wish level, I'd like to see more 'A' directorial talent take a greater part in online projects, even if it's not profitable now." -- Brian DiLorenzo, exec VP-director of integrated production, BBDO North America

What's coming? Is there a new production thing on the horizon? "Yes, of course! As the definition of interactive marketing gets bigger, there will be a lot more specialists. There are already some excellent interactive production companies that only do installations or mobile or 3-D, or games. And there are some giant ones doing massive productions of banners. I think it will fragment and actually make it much easier for agencies to go back to being brand agents, and there will be a wealth of specialists to make it easier to get good work done." -- Benjamin Palmer, president-CEO, The Barbarian Group

"It would be great to explore how we facilitate collaboration. Right now, we are still very much in the hands-off mind-set. I would love combined teams in one space where we generate and evolve on the job. We might even learn something along the way. Can you imagine the fresh ideas that could come from that level of interaction?" -- Conor Brady, VP-creative, Organic

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Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine and
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