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Industry / The 21st Century Producer

October 10, 2010

Over the last ten years or so I have operated between the very thin lines of being an Interactive Creative Director and a Digital Producer. I must mention that the majority of my career has been purely on the creative side of the equation and I admit that early on I had felt a great deal of frustration with what were called project managers. Beyond managing an Excel spreadsheet I never really felt they contributed to the betterment of the project. At their best they simply pushed forward the client’s agenda, and made sure the site launched on time. They did not have any impact on the creativity or innovative nature of what we were working on.

It was only after I spent sometime as a hybrid between a producer and a creative that I figured out what was missing… it was experience. Experience as a creative director made me an effective producer. The dynamic nature of the digital agency, integrated shop, or if you prefer… the agency of the future requires that each team member understand the process outside of their role.

Innovation knows no time-line, and better yet does not require a specific title.  During a recent conversation with Jeff Benjamin on the subject, he made a great observation on how I fit into the puzzle by comparing me to J.J. Abrams. After I thought about it for a bit, it made total sense. JJ is an extremely creative individual who has an incredibly specific vision of what he wants. The same can be said for people like Spike Jonze, or even Wes Anderson.

These guys are traditional directors, but spend an enormous amount of time making things happen at the most granular level. Whether they are framing a shot, penning dialog, or arranging a scene, there is no detail too minor for them to not be deeply involved in. This becomes undeniably evident when you immerse yourself in their work. Watching any film, or television show produced and directed by these three you can see their signatures deeply ingrained in the finest bits of minutiae.

A digital producer needs to have the same relationship to a project as these gentlemen do to their works respectively. Iain Tait touched on this in his latest article, and I could not agree more. Today’s digital landscape is unpredictable and each project will tend to have a very bespoke solution. As the number of screens we engage people on increases, and as programs turn into platforms, traditional roles go out the window. A 21st Century Producer needs to have the same sense of invention, and wonder as a Hollywood producer/director much like the three men I mentioned previously or prepare for an alternate career path.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 14, 2011 4:48 am

    You nailed it… everything I’ve ever wanted to say.

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