Radical collaboration: The changing nature of agency production
Production has changed, and so too has client expectation. These changes have thrown up new challenges, but also new opportunities and Marloes Van Den Berg, Chief Production Officer at 180 Amsterdam, examines both, looking at the effects they have on agency production.
As the world’s richest people battle it out in a modern-day space race, one place they could look to for inspiration is the agency production team.
Here, the qualities needed have always been somewhat like space exploration; it takes great planning, teamwork, talent and then, when the proverbial engine blows a gasket a hundred miles up in space, an ability to keep a cool head and work together to deal with the problem. All of this done while keeping the mission on course.
The pace of the industry and the changing nature of clients' expectations has meant that production teams need to work not just faster but smarter.
Today, the agency production team finds itself up against a whole new set of challenges which require a new set of core skills to tackle. The pace of the industry and the changing nature of clients' expectations has meant that production teams need to work not just faster but smarter to bring about the best results for their clients.
Above: The qualities needed for agency production are similar to those needed for space exploration.
Orbiting at different speeds
Change is constant. New platforms emerge, clients’ needs change, and time frames shift. As a result, modern production teams need to have an ability to ‘orbit’ productions at different speeds, to embrace the multi-layered nature of every project all while maintaining a commitment to creative excellence.
Casting the right team for every production is essential.
Because of this layered approach, casting the right team for every production is essential. It’s about setting up teams that can work at different paces, at the same time. It is also about knowing that both big and smaller productions require different, but equally important, levels of development, from resources to budget, to ensure they are all fit for format.
One critical part of this change is the need to develop strong in-house production capabilities. With experienced in-house talent you can not only meet the huge content demands of modern integrated production, but you can also be innovative, push formats and adapt quickly to client requests. This has meant the onus is on smart and flexible production departments using the constraints of a situation as an opportunity to be creative, to push boundaries and innovate. When a production team is doing that, it adds value, rather than just delivering assets, and that is production as it should be.
Above: Teamwork is key in any agency production set-up.
For the modern production team to succeed, the key is to find a mix between generalists and specialists. In a previous era, agency production departments were all structured the same way; junior PAs spent three years preparing documents while Exec Producers spent months on shoots. Today, we are making more and more content at a faster pace with a lower per asset budget. We live in a world which contains the technology to deliver all of this, but the tech is nothing without the right people to navigate it.
We are making more and more content at a faster pace with a lower per asset budget.
To be flexible to the scale and shape of any production, we need to combine trusted partners with diverse and fresh perspectives that will take production to a whole new level. We need to surround our ideas with those eyes, minds and attitudes that help us see things differently. It's our job to be able to pick and choose those perspectives – who the best people are to complement one another - and cast the team based on the problem in front of you. Having a mix of talent, different and diverse voices and perspectives, is the most interesting part of the job.
Above: Fresh perspectives makes all the difference.
When you put radical collaboration at the heart of what you do, you are ready to give up control or ‘ownership’ for the good of the idea, and that’s a new and, for some, scary place to be. But a great production team creates a unified desire to go where no-one has gone before. To organise around the problem and retain an ability to innovate and push the production machine to its absolute limit.
A great production team creates a unified desire to go where no-one has gone before.
Having this connection between agency, client team, production partners and other stakeholders creates an environment where production has the power to lift creativity. Where you can be generous with the idea and live in service of the creative ambition, allowing the process to carry the team, and the work, to new places and higher heights.
This encourages you to see production not as it is, but as it could be, And that’s a pretty exciting place to be.