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Route to Production: “Supremely Talented Creative Thinkers Will Always Be at the Beating Heart of What We Do”


Ben Clark, chief production officer at Craft McCann, on how his curious nature helped him navigate the industry and why, no matter how much things change, best-in-class creative always wins

Route to Production: “Supremely Talented Creative Thinkers Will Always Be at the Beating Heart of What We Do”

Finding the Right Path

I have always been fascinated by the art of production; from a young age, I loved films and the art of storytelling. Luckily for me, my dad was an early adopter of home video technology, so my brothers and I had access to a rather bulky VHS camera. We used it to record each other skateboarding, re-creating stunts from movies, and putting it all together using basic camera-to-VCR editing techniques. 

Around this time I also became very interested in video games. I had a Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, which led to me attempting to create my own video games. This was the start of an on-going passion for technology. I’ve always been naturally curious, constantly wanting to learn more about new trends and technologies, immersing myself as much as I can. 

After school I completed a degree in Film, Video and Photography, then set about searching for the best possible entry-level job, securing the role of runner at The Moving Picture Company. It was a great introduction to the industry and fed my curiosity; I learnt all about the various technologies and methods involved in post production. When I started out, these disciplines used to be entirely separate, siloed businesses, but over time, the industry has evolved, and the lines have become much more blurred. 

As my career progressed, I began thinking more and more about where the ideas came from, about what creatives and strategists actually did. I got into the production arm of MPC - Blonde Films - where I was able to work with a great team on music videos and commercials. I would go on to work for Acne, where I transformed the small content production company into a full service creative agency within a global digital transformation consultancy; something I’m very proud of. 

Today, my role at Craft sees me hone in on the many different skills I have acquired over my career so far. There has been huge change in the industry since I first started out, and, simultaneously, immense growth of talent and exciting new opportunities. New platforms and technologies continue to emerge and we need to evolve with them - my job is to ensure we have the right relationships, creative talent, processes and technologies across the business to provide our clients with solutions that enable them to connect with their consumers in the right way at every touch point along the journey. 

Change Is Inevitable

I see changes in the industry as a very positive thing - it has become less linear and more integrated. Data and technology plays a much more prominent role in the production process. Brands have so much more to think about when connecting with the modern consumer. Client needs have changed and the pace and scale at which we need to react has increased dramatically.

Strategists and creatives have much more information to consider now, which ultimately leads to better, more relevant and effective work. The employment of smart technology, automation and AI is essential, but it needs to be used wisely to protect the creative idea and maintain brand consistency. Smart companies have adapted their processes to allow for data and creativity to thrive in these new environments. As part of this transformation, my specialised area of production has become fundamentally more important, due to the proliferation of channels and scale of assets required. 

Technology has changed the game entirely, accelerating the need for quality creative and production at scale and at the speed of culture, which is all meaningless without innovation at the centre. The one thing that has not changed - and never will - is the need for great ideas and creative thinking. 

Evolving Talent, Growing Ideas

Craft is uniquely placed, as part of McCann Worldgroup and IPG, and has incredible potential to grow in the future. The expertise within Craft and McCann Worldgroup make us very well positioned to guide and collaborate with our clients, helping them become more open and adaptable, leading to stronger collaborations and partnerships, and blurring the traditional lines. My personal knowledge and experiences across multiple areas of the industry enables me to see the challenges from a more informed viewpoint, allowing me to see the bigger picture rather than just particular elements.

Throughout my career, I’ve always greatly enjoyed building functional teams within best-in-class integrated, hybrid and multi-skilled businesses. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some amazing award-winning projects, alongside extremely talented people, which has been very rewarding. I love our industry and working with bright, smart, creatives. Bringing fresh talent from diverse backgrounds into our industry, and seeing them grow, is the most fulfilling part of it for me. Craft’s position, working so closely with the teams at McCann and McCann Worldgroup, allows us to connect with some of the best creative and strategic people in the industry, and enables us to quickly get to the right answers.

This hybrid approach and ability to build agile multi disciplinary teams allows us to tailor the right solutions for our clients and partners no matter how complex the brief. We could, for instance, be building a data driven, content at scale, technology-driven solution for a client one day, exploring whether an in-house, right house or offshore model would be a better fit the next.

Whilst the industry has changed, the need for supremely talented creative thinkers and makers will always be there at the beating heart of what we do, so it’s an incredible time to join this industry. My advice would be to embrace change, be willing to adapt, and above all, stay curious.

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Craft London, Mon, 08 Aug 2022 09:52:00 GMT