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Opinion and Insight

Talk of the Town: What’s Going Down in the NY Post-Production Community?

LBB’s Paul Monan speaks to Rachelle Madden, Executive Director of AICE, to find out what New York’s post-production community has been talking about in 2016

Talk of the Town: What’s Going Down in the NY Post-Production Community?

It’s been an interesting year for our industry – one that’s ending with the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into whether agencies are rigging production-bidding processes, as re-ported by The Wall Street Journal – to say the least. With 2017 on the rapidly approaching horizon, there’s no better time to look back on what has been a testing year for many – although, it seems, one for which New York’s post-production seem should take a lot of optimism from.

LBB’s Paul Monan caught up with Rachelle Madden, Executive Director of AICE, to talk about the challenges the New York post-production community has faced this year, find out where the city’s creative hot spots are, and look forward to an important 2017…

LBB> The whole industry has faced some pretty big challenges over the last 12 months, so what has 2016 been like for the post-production community in New York?

RM> This past year has largely been a good one for the post industry in New York. Generally our members appear to be busy and they’re growing, adding people and capabilities. The biggest challenges remain the threat of unfair competition from agency and holding company in-house facilities and the continuing downward pressure on pricing, however. The in-house issue is growing more complex, as we hear that holding companies are now mandating that certain percentages of work go through their owned facilities. And clients are still expecting way more than their budgets provide for. We’re addressing both issues with a campaign geared towards raising awareness of potential conflicts of interest and educating agencies and clients on just what it actually costs to do the work that our members deliver. 

LBB> As 2016 comes to a close, many are making predictions about who and what would should be getting excited for in the year ahead - are there any up and coming companies that are tipped for success?

RM> We’d like to think that all of our member companies are doing amazing work! But given our impartial role as a trade association, we can’t play favourites. That said, I think a great way to predict the stars of tomorrow, in post production at least, is to check out the work that’s recognised in our annual Camp Kuleshov trailer competition for assistants. There’s some truly amazing creative work to be found there. You can check out all of this year’s winners – from New York and beyond – here

Assistant Editor Erica O'Brien of P.S. 260 holds the Camp Kuleshov Trophy at NY Chapter's 2016 Camp Kuleshov awards show

LBB> It’s been an interesting year to say the least, so what's the vibe like within the scene at the moment - are companies feeling positive or is there any apprehension?

RM> Guardedly optimistic is probably the best way to put it. We realise that agency and holding company managements are looking at our businesses and the revenue they generate and licking their chops, but we know that their own creatives and producers would often prefer to work with independent studios. So our emphasis is going to be on providing better, more innovative solutions than creatives and producers can get in-house, and work to make clients aware that they’re being sold a false set of promises. We want them to understand that the best people working in the post production industry are working at independent companies, not at in-house facilities. 

LBB> So, where are the new hot spots for creativity in town? Is the cost of rent for office space having an affect on companies? Is anyone being squeezed out to somewhere else?

RM> It’s Brooklyn, Brooklyn and more Brooklyn. A growing number of digital agencies and creative boutiques are housed there, and a few of our members are setting up shop in the borough. Manhattan rents are always a problem, and becoming more so. Neighbourhoods that used to be affordable, like Chelsea or the Flatiron district, have become much less so, and some very small boutiques and ad agencies have begun to push into previously uncharted areas like Chinatown. As long as clients need to come and work directly with artists, however, post houses will be located reasonably close to agencies. It’s just that the days when everyone could be clustered around Grand Central Station in midtown are long gone. 

From left: Rachelle Madden (AICE), Dee Tagert  (Sage Ideas), Dominic Pandolfino (Nice Shoes) and Chris Franklin (Big Sky Edit)at AICE's NY Chapter General Meeting

LBB> Looking forward to 2017, what would you like to see in the next 12 months for the scene/industry?

RM> There are a number of things on our wish list. We’re aiming to help create a more diverse talent base, and we’ve got a program in the works designed to launch that effort. We’d like clients to become more aware of how their post production dollars are being spent, and we’re moving aggressively to achieve that in partnership with our friends at the Association of National Advertisers, which is the main client-side trade group in the US. We’re working to help establish an industry-wide set of digital file delivery specs, which we’re doing in concert with trade groups, distribution companies and media networks. Finally, we’re continuing to boost creative standards in our industry, which we’ll be celebrating at our 16th annual AICE Awards, which will be held in New York in May. It’s a busy slate of goals and objectives for the year, which has us eager to get started.

AICE is the marketing communications trade association whose members are independent creative editorial, design, visual effects, color grading and audio post production companies. It is dedicated to the advancement and promotion of these companies and the essential role their services play in the media creation process.

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