Don't Look Back, You're Not Going That Way
There might be less obvious structural differences between in-house agency production and the traditional production company. But, there are big differences when it comes to the actual work being produced. The processes, the skills and not to mention the talent are all elements that put a stark contrast between the two.
Sometimes there is an “us versus them” attitude. That’s not to say the two models can’t both survive and shine. On the contrary, they challenge each other to be even more brilliant at where their inherent strengths lie.
The reason why it’s still interesting to have this conversation is not necessarily to discuss the phenomenon itself, but its scale. More and more agencies, and brands, are taking production into their own hands. And it’s quite obvious why they are doing so. The environment in which we are producing has changed drastically and is still changing at a speed to which we will all have to cater. 20-years ago, the main task was to create a 20-second spot for a 20 inch TV. Today, content is spread across an ocean of platforms and formats (social, VR, digital and so on). For many of these formats, it makes complete sense to produce in-house. If only for the sake of efficiency and quick turnarounds.
This is not to say traditional production companies cannot accommodate these needs. However, being a jack of all trades is not necessarily the best manner in which to nurture, tend to and advance artistic talent. And in my opinion, even though the scale of in-house production may and probably will increase, there will still always be a distinction. There will always be a need for sophisticated expertise and artistic talent. And I personally think that in an age where ‘everyone’s a creator’, the appreciation for craft and storytelling is actually growing. In an age where it’s not really about the tools anymore, but the actual talent employing the tools, production companies are in a stronger position than ever.
We are stronger in the sense that the projects for which we are brought in for are more challenging. More sophisticated. And, ultimately, more stimulating for the directors which we represent. Because that is essentially where we sparkle. As storytellers and filmmakers, we bring in the artistry. And we will always be more attractive to talent than brands and agencies. I don’t think that’s something they will ever be able to challenge. Top line directors get a completely different habit of artistic freedom when working with an independent party, which the production house ultimately is. And it’s our purpose to always fight the cause of the director. To seek out and secure those clients and projects that match their creative vision and challenge them to push the field as a whole to the next level. Agencies and brands will not be able to offer that same level of attention or diversity.
And brands and agencies alike appreciate that for projects where quality storytelling is at the core, you need that kind of talent. Our environment pushes their creativity forward, and we flourish when we can match that talent to synchronise with the vision of a client. In addition, production companies like ourselves are also able to offer our directors the option of inhabiting multiple fields - not necessarily all commercial. For example, in addition to our commercial and photography department, we have dedicated documentary and fiction departments. In that sense, our directors are able to utilise experience gained from these various fields and evolve accordingly. Interestingly, more and more brands are attracted to long-form content. Which again, shows how even though in-house production may be increasing, we will always have our field of expertise. There will always be a line.