So the other day I met a TV friend in London. By that, I mean he makes TV. You know you’re sitting across from a badass when you drop into conversation uber smart sounding documentaries you’ve seen and he says, “Oh yea we made that” At the end of the day, we both do the same thing: creating content. Whether it’s his 30 min TV show being blasted to viewers through a TV or my 15 second short story being blasted through your computer screen, we both make content. They’re both being used to generate revenue.
- His job title is glossy and gets him into VIP lounges, mine needs explaining. But -like- really fast cuz people get bored 2 seconds into it
- His involves celebs. Mine is made by hook or by crook with our spouses or £100-a-day actors.
- He wins BAFTAs and Emmys. I win reach and engagement. And local industry awards if I’m lucky.
- He makes 10% margin. I make 60%.
Yea you heard. He told me of a common scenario in which he makes a £7k profit on a 30 minute broadcast TV docu. I kid you not, I choked on my sushi.
I love this post I fell upon recently. Read it and come back.
My #2 favourite quote from that post: “The creatives in agencies are stereotyped as truly wanting to be directing movies or writing the next great American novel. Instead, they’re trying to get people to buy Frosted Flakes over Cheerios.”
People ask me often, “So, like…have you gotten to make any movies?” to that, I say…hell to the no. Way too many cooks in that kitchen. I don’t really even aspire to glossy, TVC type gigs. This world is fraught with scarf wearing creatives who don’t understand the effects their brilliant after-thought-ideas have on already-signed-off budgets. Exe: that switching a story from afternoon to sunrise doubles the budget ‘cuz now, I have to ship my crew out the day before, pay for their hotel, their dinner, their breakfast. But by the point that this brilliant new direction falls across my desk, it’s already been signed off by 5 big shots in the agency and so when I flag that this isn’t in their budget I get stonewalled with “I can’t ask for more money now”. Trust me, I’ve developed some successful methods for mitigating against these scenarios but that’s only because I can now foresee the challenges before they arise. But it eats into the bottom line and leaves one with less and less margin, turning your production house into a non-profit enterprise (yayy, charity!)
So, no…TV/Film doesn’t impress me. And neither does glossy advertising. Would I do it for a juicy salary? Sure thing. Would I be good at it? Ch’ya. But for me, right now, corporate video, short form video, brand awareness, video-for-content…this is where I live. This sexy equation ATL + BTL = TTL…this is where I thrive. This is what I love. And this is what makes money and keeps my crew employed and on hand to film whatever we want, whenever you need it.
“The actual doing in digital media — Facebook posts, SEO, endless permutations of ads — simply isn’t very sexy. No wonder more choose to talk rather than do.” –Digiday UK
Once in a while I pull my head out of my dark corner of the office where I’m busy actually doing shit and find that we are a rare breed. While I would love to spend my days drinking pourover at bourgeois coffee parlours and working on a tan in Cannes, I’m busy actually leading (not overseeing, but…you know…activating and empowering) my team to invent ideas with their brains which make it to your social feed within a few weeks.
I find that my role where I fuse creative oversight with production logistics means I know exactly how much the idea will cost to make, what directions to avoid and how to get the most out of my crew. So you get your videos delivered on time, on brief and on budget.
And then I go drink fancy coffee.