Having whipped up a winning Popeyes spot, GUT's Renata Neumann is ready to reveal the recipe for producing award winning campaigns
Pulse Films predicts that the changes the industry is going through now will define the future of production, a thought that's the driving force behind this exclusive interview series on Little Black Book. Covering four key themes, the series will investigate how the pandemic has affected production and the shape of things to come.
Next to be featured in the series is Renata Neumann, head of production at independent ad agency, GUT. Renata has been the recipient of numerous industry accolades over the course of her career, and during her time at GUT Miami she has worked on memorable campaigns for Popeyes and Tim Hortons, as well as Superbowl spots for Budweiser and Burger King.
Here she talks to LBB’s April Summers about how technology often presents unexpected solutions to seemingly out-of-reach ideas, why brands and agencies have the power to shape the metaverse, and why the industry urgently needs to jump aboard the environmentally conscious bandwagon.
LBB> What lasting impact has the experience of the pandemic had on how you and your agency think about and approach production?
Renata> Learning how adaptable and resilient we all can be has had a lasting impact. During the pandemic we had to discover new ways of producing, while continuing to deliver the best quality of work without the tools and capabilities we once had. This meant that we as an industry had to reinvent production and I’m very proud of what we accomplished in such a short time. Now we can work in ways we couldn’t imagine two years ago and we can also balance what is best for a production. We are able to decipher what needs to be done in person, what can be done remotely, and what can be split between the two ways of working, giving us different options to choose from when deciding the best way to produce an idea.
LBB> What is the craziest challenge you’ve come across during a production? How did you overcome it?
Renata> Each production and project has its own tough challenges and each producer on our team has a list of things they’ve had to overcome. For me, the pandemic tops every other challenge I’ve ever faced. As I mentioned previously, we had to figure out new ways of producing, which is a challenge in and of itself. Later on in the pandemic we had to figure out what to do when last-minute cancellations happened, or when shoots were pushed, or when we had to replace the crew on the day of filming, to name a few of the challenges.
From a personal standpoint, I was building our production department at a time when GUT was still very young, and most of the team was hired during the pandemic. So to be able to teach and nurture producers from a distance was incredibly difficult, but proved how resilient our agency was throughout it all. The way I overcame it was by trying new ways of working, failing, and trying again… and again.
LBB> What piece of work from your career are you most proud of / is most memorable, and why?
Renata> I’m really proud of our “Save it, See it” campaign for Michelob Ultra. It was amazing to meet these athletes and shine a light over a real problem: the lack of coverage of women’s sports. The core idea is what I love the most – it encourages people to press the save button whenever they see women’s sport content, to help give women athlete’s more visibility, and therefore more funding to support women’s sports.
LBB> How do you incorporate new technology into your work and how do you see it shaping the future of production?
Renata> New tech is already changing the production world. I remember working on a project a few years ago where we wanted to track a person’s face to adapt it in different languages in post-production, which was something difficult and expensive at the time. Now facial tracking is more common and what we wanted to accomplish would be much more doable. That’s just one example, but overall as our work continues to evolve, there are more possibilities that open up with these new technologies. As producers we always need to be looking out for what’s new, technology-wise, as sometimes it can be the solution to an idea that you didn’t know how to produce until we found the right tech.
LBB> GUT teamed up with long exposure photography expert Frank Relle for the latest Popeyes spot, using his photography technique to showcase a period of 12 hours. Can you talk me through the production of this project?
Renata> One of the things that sets Popeyes apart from other restaurants is that they marinate their chicken for 12 hours. This attention to detail and craft inspired us to shoot the whole process with the same level of craftsmanship to show it to the world. To accomplish the photography, we had to understand the cooks’ chicken preparation process, including their movements, walking, and standing patterns, as they carried out their daily activities in the kitchen. All of this preparation was crucial for selecting the best framing to capture the whole process and ensuring that we would successfully capture a beautiful motion in long exposure for a period of 12 hours.
LBB> You have worked on a number of award-winning projects; what do you think is the secret winning formula for production?
Renata> First and foremost, having a good idea is the most crucial part of any project or campaign. Once you have that, a big part of success is having a diverse team to bring it to life. At GUT, we believe inherently that diversity drives creativity, so the more diverse we are, the more creative we can be. It is important to work with the right vendors who also believe in this philosophy, and are just as passionate about the idea as you are.
Once you have the right team, it’s all about working through challenges that inevitably come up and finding creative solutions to them, as well as working closely with clients to make those ideas come to life. Challenges force us to find creative solutions or encourage clients to do what we think is best to make that idea come to life. If you have all of this, you have the recipe to create a successful campaign in your hands.
LBB> What are your thoughts on the metaverse and how it will impact the future of production?
Renata> The metaverse is a beautiful road that we have the opportunity to build. We are still learning about it and its potential, and because this is so new, brands and agencies have the opportunity to take the lead and shape what could be relevant in the metaverse. The metaverse has a wide spectrum so the opportunities are endless; from the simplest AR, to more complex immersive experiences.
I don’t believe the metaverse will take the place of other traditional media, but I do think new platforms and media will come from it, which means we will start producing experiences and ideas that fit inside the metaverse spectrum. In the same way that producers had to adapt during the pandemic by producing fast-paced ideas with smaller budgets and fewer tools; similarly, producers will now need to learn how to produce for the metaverse. Now more than ever, we need production partners that have experience in this world that can guide agencies through it.
LBB> Finally, can you tell us one thing you believe there is certain to be more of in the future of production?
Renata> There is one thing I hope for more of, in the future, which is more green productions. We are in 2022 discussing the metaverse, and there are more and more possibilities out there for sustainable productions, so how come productions still produce so much waste and carbon? I hope more agencies start demanding greener solutions, so we can make some positive changes in the world.