In tough times, GPN and Lucky Strike explain why production experts have never been so important
Back in the early 2000s when the growing trend in the U.S. was to produce offshore for talent and production to save money, Harry Tracosas saw the enormous potential of having a network of top-tier production service companies around the world that clients could access. Building on his own experience as a service producer with a company based in Florida, he started Global Production Network in 2003.
Thirteen years later, and with 37 dedicated service companies around the world representing GPN in over 100 countries, GPN has grown into a highly valued and trusted resource, providing creative solutions, valuable information, and cost-effective opportunities to production companies and agencies from around the world.
Harry Tracosas, Founder of GPN, Julia Weichinger, GPN’s European Representative, and Martin Bruce-Clayton and Phil Haselden, Founders of Lucky Strike – GPN’s U.K. representative for the last decade – discuss the value of the network and its importance to global productions companies…
In an era in which budgets are ever-tightening and time is at an all-time premium, being able to count on expert, reliable production partners has never been more important.
Thankfully, for production companies across the globe, Global Production Network is there to provide a network of creative problem solvers. With a bank of fully vetted service partners on hand to provide a personal and encyclopaedic approach to production, clients across the globe are in extremely capable hands.
Harry founded GPN in 2003 upon the solid foundations of his considerable experience as a service producer, and was joined in 2011 by Julia Weichinger, who had spent the preceding 15 years working as an executive producer across the globe. “I was convinced of how great a concept it was the first time that I heard of it; it’s that simple,” she explains. “It saves a lot of time and provides a safety net for our clients.”
The network’s clientele is predominantly composed of production companies who can collaborate with GPN in a number of ways. If a production company requires an iconic location like Tower Bridge or Blenheim Palace, or needs a snowy location in an off peak month, they can reach out to GPN, who will in turn contact their network of experts, matching the production company to the relevant production servicing office virtually anywhere in the world.
Not only will the network provide logistical solutions, GPN’s members also seek the best talent diversity at the most cost effective price and can offer production and storyboard analysis, proposing a list of country options suited to satisfy the needs of the production.
GPN operates as a global production family, benefiting its partners and, more importantly, clients. Operating on a unique system whereby they don’t charge fees for collaborating or consulting, GPN instead takes commission from the projects that its members work on - meaning the network’s vetting process is without any cost to the production company.
After being contacted directly by the client production company, Harry or Julia get in touch with a production services provider, who deals directly with the client from that point on.
“The client will almost always be one of a number of companies pitching and bidding on a job,” explains Martin. “So having access to great location reference as well as a quick budget turnaround can make a big difference to the client’s pitch to the agency.”
Currently, GPN represents 37 companies with a reach across over 100 countries. “Whilst the network is currently at capacity in terms of company and country capabilities, many of our companies have extended their reach into other countries in their surrounding region where production services are limited or non-existent,” explains Harry. “In essence, GPN has the ability to provide production services in over 100 countries internationally via our existing network.”
Martin Bruce-Clayton (L), Executive Producer of Lucky Strike, and Harry Tracosas (R), CEO of GPN
One of the network’s longest serving and most reliable representatives is the UK’s Lucky Strike, who joined GPN at its inception. Harry and Martin’s professional relationship stretches back for over 13 years, and when he was first putting together the structure of GPN Harry reached out to Martin on the strength of his track record and shared mind-set regarding production services.
“Lucky Strike are a much valued brand within our network of companies and epitomize GPN’s professional and personal standards. Martin and Phil are excellent producers but, more importantly, are good and decent people and I am delighted that they agreed to be a part of GPN,” explains Harry. “Lucky Strike have always provided excellent service to each and every GPN client they’ve produced for.”
“Many of the top production companies and agencies in the world take advantage of the services supplied by GPN and its members because they know they are going to get a certain level of production expertise and service,” says Martin. “Lucky Strike gets a very diverse range of enquiries from around the world. Whilst most enquiries relate to physical production, there’s also a lot of activity casting out of London because of the huge talent pool we have. Many enquiries are also driven by the location of celebrity talent, many of whom have houses in London or work here frequently. We shot a great IBM spot with Joe Pytka directing earlier this year with Carrie Fisher, who was working at Pinewood on the Star Wars set, so that really sealed the shoot’s location."
IBM 'Watson' with Carrie Fisher; directed by Joy Pytka; Pytka Inc; Ogilvy New York
A recent example of Lucky Strike’s work through GPN was a series of spots for IKEA. A truly international collaboration, the spots were helmed by veteran French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Delicatessen), represented by L.A. based production company Independent Media, with the creative supplied by Mother London. Shot over five days at Black Island Studios, this type of production involving many multinational elements is GPN’s core business, and is growing year on year.
IKEA 'Grandad'; directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet; Independent Media; Mother London
One of the main advantages of the network is the trust and insight that it brings. “It unlocks the doors to working with tried and tested production partners in over 100 countries around the world,” adds Phil. “Harry or Julia may well personally know the client, or have had a relationship with that company over many years. This insight into how the client operates and their expectations is invaluable for everyone.”
As GPN has grown, so has the amount of work between members themselves, with many of the companies working together so frequently that the network has a developed a real family feel.
An annual summit every year, held in different countries around the world (this year it’s Costa Rica) and hosted by the GPN representative member of that country, gives all network members the chance to catch up on news with other colleagues, discuss topical points of mutual interest in the production service world, and work out strategies and approaches for the coming year. “Apart from being a lot of fun, it allows GPN to evolve and adapt to changing market conditions and trends,” says Phil, “something that is absolutely vital in this industry”.
There are plenty of opportunities to access the physical benefits of the GPN network too. “With a strong presence at the Cannes Lions for many years now, both existing and prospective clients can come along to GPN’s beach venue during the main week to relax, have a swim and a drink,” explains Martin. “It’s a fantastic, very low key and no pressure way to meet potential new clients as well as say hello to old friends.”
GPN Beach Venue, Cannes, June 2016
The GPN team has also developed a close relationship with the APA and is one of the key sponsors of the annual APA show. With a dedicated annual marketing fund, and representation in North America and Europe, GPN’s profile, and that of its members, remains highly visible.
Martin believes the main reason why GPN has grown exponentially since its inception is that it provides a genuinely valuable resource to time pressed producers who need reliable information, realistic options, and production partners overseas who they can trust to deliver. One call or one e-mail immediately plugs them into a proven global network, which is a fantastic saving on time and research.
And looking forward over the next year or two? “The U.K. has always been a popular destination for international productions with its highly skilled crews, terrific range of talent, and wonderful locations,” adds Martin. “But with the pound set to stay low against most major currencies for quite I while I believe, there’s never been such a good time to shoot here.“