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Production Line: Learning the Power of 'Yes' with Miriam Franklin


EVP, head of integrated production, Deutsch New York, on what makes a great producer and why communication and collaboration are key

Production Line: Learning the Power of 'Yes' with Miriam Franklin

Miriam Franklin is a powerhouse who has produced all over the world, in every category, and across every medium. Over the course of her career, she has worked on award winning campaigns for clients including Reebok, State Farm, and Apple Music. At Deutsch NY, in addition to overseeing and unifying production across all clients, Miriam manages Great Machine, the agency’s production arm that offers end-to-end production and post through a suite of directors, editors, animators, and motion graphic designers.  

Prior to Deutsch NY, Miriam worked full-time as part of the freelance gig economy, consulting under the moniker of Miriam Produces. During this time, she helped Wieden+Kennedy escalate the chicken sandwich wars for McDonald’s new Crispy Chicken Sandwich, as well as working on the Duracell Business. Prior to freelancing, she was director of content production at Translation, working across all content initiatives including tv, digital/interactive, music videos, experiential and print. Over the course of her career, she helped produce numerous award winning and culturally relevant content and experiences, including one of the most successful viral social campaigns and top 10 Super Bowl spots of all time “Reebok presents Terry Tate Office Linebacker.” 

LBB> A good producer should be able to produce for any medium, from film to events to digital. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why/why not?

Miriam> I STRONGLY AGREE!! A great producer is a great producer regardless of the medium. The basic skill set needed is the same: attention to detail, a strong aesthetic, a curious mind, the ability to problem-solve and think quickly, and a passion for making things.

The best producers live for the challenge to learn new things and know how to ask lots and lots of questions to figure out how to navigate a medium that is new to them. Do your research, lean on vendors for knowledge, ask other producers who have worked in the medium that is new to you, google it! We all need to develop new skills all the time as the variety of channels is constantly changing and evolving.

LBB> And leading on from that, when it comes to building up your team at the agency, what’s your view on the balance of specialists vs. generalists?

Miriam> I am a big proponent of producers being truly integrated and able to produce across all media. At Deutsch, our team is small but with robust skill sets and everyone gets an opportunity work across all types of projects. Some producers have more of an affinity or interest in one type of medium over another, but it's important to learn all mediums. This makes for more well-rounded, knowledgeable, and engaged producers. The days of silos and specialists are gone as we all must learn how to move more nimbly and efficiently.

And the best producers become 'specialists' in whatever they are working on at the time.

LBB> When working with a new partner or collaborator, how do you go about establishing trust?

Miriam> By being 100% honest from the get-go and transparent throughout the entire process. I always tell potential partners exactly what to expect - the good, the bad, and the ugly, and let them know that I will have their back throughout the process. Communication and collaboration are key to the success of any endeavor. At the end of the day, if you do not have mutual trust and feel the working relationship is truly collaborative, you have nothing.

LBB> How important is it to you that there is diversity across all partners on a production? Do you have any measures to promote diversity when it comes to production?

Miriam> It's incredibly important, and more and more agencies and clients are realizing this - and it's about time! At Deutsch, we believe we need as many diverse voices at the table as possible to really create opportunities and communication that is effective. Different perspectives help to promote understanding and growth. As producers, we have the power and responsibility to help ensure that diverse talent is being seen and given opportunities to shine. Initiatives like Double the Line, Free the Work, Change the Lens, and many others are helping to amplify and introduce otherwise underrepresented talent into the mix. We have also developed a content series “24/7/365” that we produce internally through Great Machine (our full-service in-house production/post-production offering) that celebrates key diversity initiatives in thought-provoking and entertaining ways. As an industry, we still have a long way to go, but It's exciting to see and be a part of this effort. And it's more reflective of the world we are living in.

LBB> Should production have a seat in the C-suite—and why?

Miriam> Absolutely production should have a seat in the C-suite. Great production leaders are an integral part of the operations and success of an agency. I am proud to be a part of the strong and inclusive leadership team at Deutsch NY, who value the contributions of production. They understand that production contributes strategically, creatively, and operationally. And more and more as a profit center through curating and growing in-house production services. In a world where the content that comes out of an agency is basically its calling card; it makes perfect sense for production to have a seat at the big table—helping to craft the culture and future of the agency. 

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?

Miriam> I hear a lot of talk bemoaning the loss of production value and craft as clients expect more and more content at decreased budgets and expedited timelines. We need to alter our perception of what production value means based on the way the world is changing its perception of what it deems quality content. There is an absolute craft to creating content at the speed of culture that looks and feels authentic and relevant to the audience who is consuming it. And as this fast-churn content becomes more and more the rule than the exception, we as producers are learning to adapt and up the level of production value by finding new resources and pushing for excellence regardless of the timeline and budget.

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?

Miriam> At Deutsch, production is in from the initial briefing. Long gone are the days when producers are sent final approved creative to simply execute. Production is an integral part of the overall process and the best producers offer valuable strategic and creative insights that can help inform every step of the way. Producers can introduce different approaches to solving problems and different ways into ideas. They can introduce new thought starters that may have not otherwise been brought to the table. They can be used to gut check the feasibility of ideas during each phase of development and offer alternate solutions to keep strong ideas in play that might otherwise be put aside as not achievable within a given timeframe or budget. The best and most effective ideas come when the walls are down, and all parties are working together from the beginning.

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

Miriam> The ever-changing landscape and the exponential speed with which new technology is coming into play to help push the limits of what we can create and how we can execute it. There is always so much to learn and new ways to think, which is truly exciting.

LBB> And what advice would you give to an aspiring agency producer?

Miriam> First and foremost, have an insatiable thirst to learn new things. Be curious and always ask questions. Listen. Make sure you have an undying passion for making things. Always be willing to approach projects from many different angles and never lose your hunger for learning and growing. Learn the power of “yes.”

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Deutsch NY, Tue, 29 Mar 2022 07:25:32 GMT