OPINION: Production companies are delivering value for money [SH] Creative directors need to get to grips with production processes to understand value and should try to foster trust with production companies, Mike Wells believes.

Again creative directors are throwing down the gauntlet to production companies (Campaign, last week). It seems to have been forgotten that each time a production company goes through the process of budgeting and scheduling a production (with no guarantee of the job in the end) we submit a detailed analysis of how the production will run - financially and logistically.

Again creative directors are throwing down the gauntlet to

production companies (Campaign, last week). It seems to have been

forgotten that each time a production company goes through the process

of budgeting and scheduling a production (with no guarantee of the job

in the end) we submit a detailed analysis of how the production will run

- financially and logistically.



We justify how costs and fees are calculated in a business that is not

ruled by science or logic, but by that intangible quality ,’creative

talent’, that creative directors (and the rest of us) value so

highly.



Most agencies get very good value for money most of the time. It seems a

central issue of trust is not being effectively dealt with. The industry

relies heavily on individual relationships that we should be attempting

to build - the longer creative directors and production companies dance

around their handbags, the more mutual suspicion will grow.



We work in a free market - if demand for one product or service exceeds

supply, it is inevitable the price will rise. To feel that value for

money is being given, there needs to be an objective judgment of the

investment’s result. If creative directors object to the habits of

directors who require personal chefs on set, they presumably feel value

for money is no longer being given. The answer is simple: don’t employ

such directors.



While on the subject of who to employ, please do employ effective and

knowledgeable agency producers. They stand in the front line and should

be best placed to spot inefficient or uneconomic production company

practices.



One would expect them to be better placed and qualified to fulfil this

role than the cost controller; however, it seems trust is also an issue

between client and agency. Don’t ask production companies to salve that

relationship.



Regarding clients partaking of discounts given to production companies,

they already do. All too often, budgets are submitted on the basis that

’we’ll make it work later’. The producer knows he is able to rely on

long-term relationships with third-party suppliers to meet a budget that

initially seems insufficient to pay for the production.



The downward pressure on budgets means, on any single production, the

cost cutting can go too far and the job suffers as a result. The agency

producer and creative team should, and in the best cases do, work

together with the production company to fight for the correct budget for

the production.



Greater knowledge of the processes involved in production would help

creative directors and their departments assess ’value for money’. Maybe

a knowledge of how the relationship between client and agency works

would help production companies and producers.



Ultimately, you must either make the effort to understand our end of the

business, or trust the people you employ to do the job efficiently and

cost-effectively within the transparent framework we are working in.

That trust doesn’t just happen - the relationship needs to be worked at

like any other.



Finally, please don’t point at pop promos and features as paragons of

cost-effective film-making. They are different businesses that simply

use the same raw materials. Pop promos don’t require anything like the

same level of accountability from production companies that is required

from agencies and clients. Feature films and TV productions represent a

much longer term of employment and investment than the average ad. When

compared with the commercials industry, neither of these types of

film-making requires a similar amount of time and effort involved in

collaboration, on a creative and production level.



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