Production with Amy
17 November 2023
Originally published by Little Black Book
Hailing from New Zealand, Amy runs isobel’s production offering, and has produced amazing work for McDonald's, Volkswagen, CocaCola and more.
Amy> Production techniques are constantly evolving and that’s what makes it really exciting. You can achieve things for less money (caveats attached!). Technology is always evolving whether it’s in VFX’s or the equipment and cameras we use. No campaign’s are ever the same. We’re always wanting to surprise our consumers and ultimately that lands in production's lap.
LBB> A good producer should be able to produce for any medium, from film to events to digital. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why/why not?
Amy> I strongly agree with this statement. A truly integrated creative campaign needs to work effectively in a variety of different mediums, and a good producer should be able to deliver this. It's the nature of our job now, and I think it keeps things interesting. Once you've mastered the foundations & principles of production you can pivot and transfer those skills to any medium.
LBB> There are so many models for the way production is organised in the advertising industry - what set-ups have you found to be the most successful and why?
Amy> More and more we know clients (and agencies too) are looking for truly cost-effective, quick and effective solutions to production, so as an industry we’ve had to adapt. For us, adding in-house production to our bow was a no-brainer. We can now shoot, edit and post-produce films in-house. It’s great because it means we can be fast, agile and efficient. Logistically speaking too, it allows us to erase the gap between having ideas and making them. This doesn’t always mean to say because we can, we should. Our recent work for loaf lended itself perfectly to in-house production. However, in the case of our latest campaign for Travelodge, working with a separate production company was the right solution.
LBB> When working with a new partner or collaborator, how do you go about establishing trust?
Amy> Successful collaboration is grounded in trust. It really can make or break a production so when we’re getting a partner on board it’s so important to take the time upfront to ensure they’re the right fit. Taking the time to discuss the ways we work and allow the trust to build. We want to know they’re collaborative and are open to our ideas and suggestions every step of the way and that they connect with us as individuals too.
LBB> How important is it to you there is diversity across all partners on a production? Do you have any measures to promote diversity when it comes to production?
Amy> Personally, diversity is incredibly important to me. As an industry we have a responsibility to support and nurture unrepresented talent, because let's face it, we do have a bit of a legacy issue. At isobel, we seek out production company partners who are actively implementing meaningful measures to create creative & inclusive work environments. It’s so exciting to me to see new production partners in the market that are really shining a light on this. When we’re exploring director’s it’s important to reflect a diverse final three choices. The creativity shines through our individuality.
LBB> Speaking of casting, what is your approach to this side of a production? How do you work with directors to ensure a fair and fruitful process?
Amy> Diversity is just as important in front of the camera as it is behind it. We discuss our desired casting process at length with our directors. I really feel that allocating a bit more budget into the casting line gives you more opportunity to get it right. Having a narrow field to choose from is stressful and frankly shows on screen. We're extremely committed to reflecting our audience. Authenticity is key to success. People's BS monitors are more finely tuned than ever!
LBB> Sustainable production is also, understandably, a big talking point and will continue to be so moving forward. How are you navigating this as an agency?
Amy> It's an ongoing challenge, and we can always do better. When we are planning a shoot we think very carefully about where it’s going to be. Its not about jumping on a plane and going to South Africa because we can. We like to think smarter in our approach and keeping our carbon footprint to a minimum. It’s a line item we put in and it might cost a little bit more but ultimately it’s for the greater good. This translates over to the production companies we engage with too.
LBB> What conversations are you having with clients about issues such as diversity and sustainability? Is it something that clients are invested in or more that agencies need to take the lead on?
Amy> No business will get away with paying lip service to these issues. Thankfully for the most part we are all doing a better job of holding each other accountable and implementing initiatives. We make a point of partnering with clients who hold the same value systems as we do and ensuring this is properly integrated into the work we do and it’s not just some tick box exercise.
LBB> Clients’ thirst for content seems to be unquenchable - and they need content that’s fast and responsive! What’s the key to creating LOTS of stuff at SPEED - without sacrificing production values? Is it even possible?
Amy> It's totally possible. The fast turnaround content requires the same skillset as delivering the TV ad.
It’s all about planning for it upfront. It can’t be an after-thought that's tagged on the end of a long shoot day and still ensures it has high production values. It can't be content for contents sake. It can be 'cheap and cheerful', 'fast and fun', but it has to be worthy of watching!
LBB> To what extent is production strategic - traditionally it’s the part that comes at the ‘end’ of the agency process, but it seems in many cases production is a valuable voice to have right up top - what are your thoughts/experiences of this?
Amy> I couldn't agree more! The earlier you involve production, the better. Every department looks at the same challenge through a different lens. With additional time up front and team collaboration, producers are more likely to deliver a strategic production solution that can deliver the desired campaign outcome. Plus, we've all got those horror stories of a script landing on our desks along with a budget that just doesn't match, and no-one ends up happy with the result. Thankfully this is a distant memory.
LBB> And what advice would you give to an aspiring agency producer?
Amy> Shadow, shadow, shadow as much as possible. Jump at any opportunity large or small. Watch people’s styles with how they engage with all departments through the production process and you’ll develop your own style of producing. Keep asking questions, it’s better to make a mistake and fix it rather than guess and really make a mess of it! Just be willing to learn at every level of production and don’t rush the process.
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