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Production Line: Jason Feng on Production That Makes Ideas Fly


As Forsman&Bodenfors Singapore launches its production arm F&B Studios, we sit down with the studio’s head Jason Feng

Production Line: Jason Feng on Production That Makes Ideas Fly
Whether it’s the potential of the metaverse or the production power of smartphone cameras, Jason Feng is someone who embraces the possibilities that tech is bringing to the production world. And that change, combined with the explosion of platforms and clients’ growing appetite for content means that it’s  particularly exciting for Jason, who is leading the newly-founded F&B Studios, out of Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore.

Jason is one of the founding members of the F&B Singapore team, joining as an editor and designer - and now he’ll be heading up the F&B Studios offering. Since opening its doors in 2018, the agency has grown to over 20 people, with a carefully balanced mix of local and international talent.

The launch of F&B Studios formalises something that the agency has been doing in the background for clients for some time, as the team has adapted to clients’ evolving needs. The studio model allows for greater collaboration with the creative team, and greater speed and responsiveness too.

Laura Swinton caught up with Jason Feng to find out more about the new venture and to pick Jason’s brains about the changes in production and tech that are getting him excited now.

LBB> You’re a founding member of F&B Singapore - how has the agency evolved since you joined? 

Jason> The agency began with five of us, four Swedes and me. In the beginning, we were working in a serviced office at The Working Capitol, the energy in that room was great, everyone was heavily involved with the work. When it came to recruiting, we always made sure to strike a balance between international and local talent. Within a year, we outgrew that space and moved into our current office at Craig Road. Today we are a team with 20+ people. 

Over the years, we’ve developed an inclusive culture, and this was made possible by the diversity of our collective. Beyond nationalities and language, we have fostered a culture where everyone is free to be themselves at work. And this is incredibly important as I believe that when people feel like they belong, they can go on to produce the best work in their career.  

LBB> And what led to the decision to set up a full-service production arm? And why now? 

Jason> The fact is we’ve been working in the background, producing work in-house over the last couple of years. It started off with internal videos for our clients, which we managed to knock out of the park. Over time, we gradually increased our scope to take on more demanding projects. Now we are seeing a rising demand for the work that we do, and we decided it was time to scale this capability into a full-fledged offering. 

LBB> There are so many models for the way production is organised in the advertising industry, so why was this studio’s model the right way to go for Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore?

Jason> The agency thrives with a studios model. Being in-house means communication is a breeze and this creates a synergy between the teams, which is essential in creative development. This makes us agile, iterating ideas on the fly during the initial stages of a creative brief.  

We often develop prototypes for our creative ideas, crystallising thoughts and notes scribbled onto napkins. These prototypes allow us to communicate our ideas effectively, and more importantly, get the clients on their feet and excited about the potential of our ideas. With this clarity, it also allows us to move into production seamlessly, whether it’s with external partners or continuing the process with studios. 

LBB> How are clients’ content needs evolving? 

Jason> The focus for content has shifted from having one hero film, to a campaign that spans multiple 15-seconds ads, over multiple phases. On top of that, for content to really come through, it has to be tailored for specific platforms like TikTok or live streaming. And by tailoring, I don’t mean shoe-horning your hero content with a simple resize with safety margins in mind.  

All these various platforms have distinct demographics, and their frame of mind when engaging with content is also very different in these spaces. The way we approach customising platform-specific content starts from understanding the nuances of the platform: the tonality of the copy, the editing style, and choice of art direction, they all play a part in the success of the content.  

LBB> What skills or emerging areas of new production tech are you most excited about from an F&B Studios point of view? 

Jason> Mobile phones have reached a technological level that they slot right into my workflow. The cameras are amazing, they have facial and depth sensors, and are capable of AR. And this opens a whole range of creative opportunities with apps that take advantage of all these features. Of course, phones are no replacement for professional equipment, but their portability allows me to bring them anywhere with me. I mean, I’m writing this on my iPhone. 

LBB> We’re seeing the line between content and commerce blur, with shoppable social content, shoppable livestreams and things like that - is that having an impact on how you approach production or the sort of skills needed? 

Jason> This is an exciting development with more ways to engage an audience, and with these different video platforms, the rules of engagement vary. Understanding the nuances of these various platforms is essential, and with this understanding, we are able to deliver content that resonates or even hacks user behaviour to deliver creative solutions. 

LBB> Are there any particular production trends (for good or bad) that you’re seeing in your market at the moment that you think would be interesting for our readers in other parts of the world to read about? 

Jason> I mentioned this previously, and it was the shift of focus for campaigns to feature only 15s/6s ads. The writing has been on the wall all along, and this is somewhat unfortunate because some of the best stories are challenging to fit within a 15s ad. Volvo’s ‘Moments’ is a favourite of mine, the emotional journey you undergo as you witness these magical montages of this girl’s life as she grows up. The ad crescendos to the critical moment as a careless driver fumbling with his coffee almost runs her down as she crosses the road, only to be saved by a product safety feature of the Volvo XC60. That was a beautiful ad that left a lasting impression on me. 

Now there’s an attrition of attention, short-form ads reign supreme when it comes to ROI, and advertisers are moving away from long-form advertising. Not all is lost though, as I’ve seen a host of delightful short-form ads, a testament to the brilliance of creative storytelling and a trend I’m excited about. 

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?  

Jason> Truthfully, quality craft takes time. With that said, it is possible to deliver quality content that is reactive to emerging trends with speed. This starts off with managing timelines and determining the level of quality that is achievable within the time frame. We have to be strategic and smart with resource allocation and make sure everyone is on the same page. Being familiar with the brand is another important factor that gives us a leg-up in ensuring the production can move fast. At the end of the day, we are trying to find that sweet spot for quality and speed, and it’s something that we must constantly calibrate for every project. 

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? 

Jason> Forsman & Bodenfors always had a strong emphasis on an open and collaborative culture, and we believe good ideas can come from anyone. Involving production from the get-go, not only to allow a sense check on the feasibility of executing these ideas, but we also bring to the table production techniques that can elevate the idea. 

LBB> What’s the most exciting thing about working in production right now? 

Jason> The explosive popularity of blockchain, NFTs and the Metaverse. Everyone is clamouring to stake their claim in this space, and this has a huge impact on production. However, I think we are only scratching the surface with NFTs, the technology and use case is currently in its infancy, mostly constricted to art pieces at the moment. I believe in the next few years, the NFT space will move from being collectible-driven to utility-driven as adoption picks up.

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Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore, Thu, 05 May 2022 13:27:36 GMT