The democratisation of production: why access can’t replace experience
Dalia Burde, Founder/Executive Producer at Avocados and Coconuts, argues that encouraging new talent to get the most out of their ability is crucial, but the difference between opportunity and exploitation can be a fine line.
The changing landscape of media and increased access to professional filmmaking equipment means that everyone can become a filmmaker or content creator immediately.
With this democratisation, young talent is emerging on the scene hungrier and more confident than ever before. As industry veterans, I believe it is our responsibility to offer young talent opportunities and experiences that allow them to hone their craft in a cohesive, professional environment.
It’s an exciting time for young talent [but] they are still missing invaluable steps in their creative development and their lack of experience can leave them vulnerable to exploitation.
While it’s an exciting time for young talent, they are still missing invaluable steps in their creative development and their lack of experience can leave them vulnerable to exploitation. I strongly believe new talent is best nurtured with the time and space to learn and find their own process among a creative team. That’s what I strive to provide: the right balance between mentorship and the freedom to learn, grow, and make mistakes.
Above: New directors, producers and other talent need guidance and mentorship to truly succeed.
I often find that new talent enters the production industry with self-appointed titles of producer, director or editor, but they have missed out on the guidance and mentorship needed to truly succeed. Even the best talent benefits from having time to learn and establish a creative process. Experience builds true confidence and allows a holistic understanding of filmmaking and content creation. Production is a team sport, and understanding how to play with a team is integral.
Production is a team sport, and understanding how to play with a team is integral.
I’d also add that deciphering the difference between opportunity and exploitation is a skill in itself, one that young talent needs to learn. I have met with many young talented filmmakers who have shot, directed, and edited some incredible work, oftentimes with well established brands and clients who are looking to get work made below true market cost; but this approach hurts everyone working in production and is, I think, done at the detriment of the talent's own development. Sure, $30,000 is a lot of money to a person who is right out of film school, but when they discover the time it takes to deliver content more than once, they often realise the need for a much larger team. At the end of the project, the time it required meant they were actually working for well under minimum wage.
It only takes a few of those experiences before young directors want to find a more sustainable way of working in the industry, and they end up at places where their talent is valued and supported with the right team and resources.
Above: It's not enough to simply have the tools, new talent also needs the experience of others to help guide them.
With all of that said, it is understandably hard to encourage eager young talent to slow down when they have all the tools at their disposal. I myself felt an extreme urgency to get where I wanted to be as fast as possible. As if success is about winning some sort of self-appointed race rather than truly aiming to master a craft, but that is the nature of being young.
I have worked with some amazingly talented young people who are simply born with something special. In all instances, they have only improved and refined their talents as they gain years of experience; their talent is never extinguished. It can’t solely be about a flash of a great creative idea but, rather, fostering that idea and sharpening their ability to execute on their vision with confidence, skill, and a keen understanding of how our industry works as a whole.
Young talent fuels the creative world but we should not use their hunger to get cheaper work.
There is also something incredible about the creative liberation and the change in content that has emerged with the democratisation of access. You can move out of prescribed ways of doing things and look at work with a new fresh perspective. It can allow a more experienced team to see a different vantage point. We must foster this new creative energy without exploiting our access to it.
Young talent fuels the creative world, and rightly so, as they bring new ideas and innovation; but I want to reiterate that we should not use their hunger to get cheaper work. Instead, let’s give them the right atmosphere to learn and grow. In turn, their overall creative value will be much higher as it is established on a solid footing.