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Bossing It: Seizing Opportunities with Morgan Faverty and Jake Evans


Pavilion Works' co founders on doing everything, similar leadership styles and why everyone has it in them to lead

Bossing It: Seizing Opportunities with Morgan Faverty and Jake Evans

Morgan Faverty and Jake Evans co-founded the social-first content studio Pavilion Works in 2017. Since then the company has worked with some of the top agencies and brands like Wieden + Kennedy, Nike, F1, Conde Nast, Wonderhood, Edelman, eBay and many others. Morgan and Jake have gone on to build several companies including their Film and TV company Pavilion Works Originals which is developing long-form projects and most recently had a short film BAFTA Nominated for Best Short Film. At the end of 2022, they launched their new company ACCOLADE which is a roster lead production company.

LBB> What was your first experience of leadership? 

Jake> Before setting up Pavilion Works, Morgan and I freelanced together at a production company called The Narrative where we worked directly with the owners. They both had their own leadership styles but I remember distinctly that they were very approachable, laid back and receptive. 

Morgan> Coincidentally we turned down job offers from them to set up Pavilion Works. Which in itself was our first first-hand experience of leadership. We were just hungry, naïve freelancers who saw an opportunity and went for it. 

LBB> How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be? 

Morgan> Pavilion Works was my first full time job, it’s not something that I naturally thought about when I started out but here I am. I’ve had to learn on the job. My approach to leadership is simple, create a culture that is conscious, egoless and driven. If I can try and lead people with these values, great work will come. 

Jake> I’m forever trying to figure that out but to me a great leader is someone that is receptive to their team and lets people follow their own initiative. Our role is to recognise talent in people and let them do what they do best and guide them when needed. 

Morgan> I believe that we have created a space where our team feels empowered to make their mark on the work and company. I want people to feel like they can grow and develop, seizing opportunities that not only benefit themselves but help make the company better. 

LBB> What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?

Jake> When we first started Morgan and I did everything. We shot, directed, produced, edited - whatever a project needed. But as business owners your roles change, you hire specialists, open up collaboration. Letting go of that control was a big deal for me and seeing the team do it better than I would is such a pay off. It was at that moment I realised that true leadership is giving people autonomy. 

Morgan> In 2019 we started our originals company Pavilion Works Originals, producing several short films and documentaries that have now gone on to festivals all over the world, even one being BAFTA nominated this year. Investing our own money into these projects has probably been the biggest lesson for me. Being the producer and the financier, you are in the driving seat with absolutely no safety net, so it better be worth it! 

LBB> Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you? 

Jake> It was never an active decision, more a natural journey of growing a company. Morgan and I knew we worked well together and the leadership bit came after. It’s a never ending journey of learning as we go, sense checking things between each other helps. I think we have similar leadership styles with differences here and there, and that combo helps 

LBB> When it comes to 'leadership' as a skill, how much do you think is a natural part of personality, how much can be taught and learned? 

Jake> I personally think everyone has it in them. The contemporary idea of leadership is much more open than it was in the past, we’re realising that there are different qualities for different leadership styles. The natural talent for it means nothing without experience. 

Morgan> From my own experience it’s something that I have learned and developed. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have read a handful of leadership books because I’ve felt like I need to know more. Both Jake and I are similar in the sense that both our parents built their own businesses and maybe we absorbed their confidence and drive to do it for ourselves, and that’s added to our own ability as leaders. 

LBB> What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them? 

Jake> For me it was accepting that some level of distance is part of the leadership role, you need to be able to see the wood from the trees when everyone’s in the thick of it. There’s a control freak side of me that I have to tone down at times and really just let people work through things rather than jumping straight in.

Morgan> The busier and bigger the company gets the further Jake and I move away from the day to day and this comes with its own issues and problems that need to be solved. We are learning the importance of sharing our responsibility and letting them go to a person better suited to lead those areas. Last year that was top of our agenda with Alice Gilfillan joining us as EP and Head of Studio, giving Jake and myself the space to develop the company from a wider perspective. 

LBB> In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered? 

Jake> We’ve always been open as leaders, I think the mystique of the all knowing person at the top is dangerous. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t share everything but we never wanted to create a space where we weren’t human. 

Morgan> My approach is being open and approachable. This is key as there is no value in pretending you have all the answers but also making sure people know what they are working towards and have common goals. When people come and work at Pavilion Works, they often stay for a while, as our turn over of employees is low. This makes me confident that we have created a space that people feel valued and a part of something which I think only comes from being transparent as a leader. 

LBB> As you developed your leadership skills did you have a mentor, if so who were/are they and what have you learned? And on the flip side, do you mentor any aspiring leaders and how do you approach that relationship? 

Jake> Morgan and I have often thought about trying to find a mentor as this is something we have lacked. Will and Alex who are the founders of The Hudsonbec are the closest we have had to mentors. They have supported us and shared some great advice over the years, even giving us our first recurring job. 

Morgan> As the company matured without knowing, we have realised the importance in nurturing young talent across the board of production, creative and post. As company owners, we very much welcome a chance to have more mentors that can pass on their own experience and knowledge, so if anyone wants to be our mentors we would welcome this with open arms! 

LBB> It's been a really challenging year - and that's an understatement. How do you cope with the responsibility of leading a team through such difficult waters? 

Jake> Honesty is key, and keeping your outlook positive, there’s always a way when things start to simmer down in different areas. At the end of the day you are a team, so either utilising that time productively or giving people who’ve been burning it hard, the time to relax and take things a little slower. 

Morgan> Since 2020 we have had a share of ups and downs, but we have still managed to grow each year. The quieter times gave us a chance to let our team relax and look more inwards and explore other interests within our scope of work. I’d say Nielsan Bohl who is now our junior colourist is a great example of how we listened and gave him the support and time he needed. Nielsan started with us as an edit assistant but had a strong interest in colour and three years later we’ve built our own grade suite, and he has worked on projects for the likes of eBay, Stormzy, Converse, Spotify, Sam Smith and Google. 

LBB> This year has seen the industry confronted with its lack of action/progress on diversity and inclusion. As a leader how have you dealt with this? 

Jake> It’s something we are constantly checking ourselves for, both being white male company founders we’re very aware of our privilege and conscious of the spaces in our industry that are in desperate need for diversity. 

Morgan> There is no doubt our industry struggles with this and Pavilion Works is no exception but we hope to be approaching this with progressive thinking and action. When it comes to shoots, inclusion and diversity is a top priority and an ongoing conversation throughout the production. Obviously we face our challenges. 

Jake> When hiring we make it a priority to try and get our job listings in new places that are less traditional than the normal places with the hopes to have more diverse candidates. PAVILION WORKS ORIGINALS makes it a priority to support underrepresented directors and writers. Literally putting our money where our mouth is. 

LBB> What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help you along your leadership journey? 

Morgan> There’s so much literature out there, ‘The Great CEO Within’ was the first book I read that felt like a good practical framework to build from, a lot of these books centre around start-up cultures but many of the things they recommend fit within our industry too. Now Then Talks is a new podcast I’m listening to at the moment, which has great insight from a range of people working within our sector of the industry. 

Looking at what other producers and company owners are doing is constantly an inspiration for me, but my favourite resources I’ve come across are the books ‘Leaders Eat Last’ and ‘The Great CEO Within’, and the podcast ‘Masters of Scale with Ried Hoffman’.

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Pavilion Works, Mon, 06 Mar 2023 12:46:13 GMT