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Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Commercial Production – Post Recession

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

The Brief spoke with Wayne Fenske, founder and Executive Producer of LTB Films, and Scott Mackenzie, Partner and Executive Producer at Radke Film Group, to scope out the changes in television production – 2011. 

Wayne Fenske – Housekeeping and traveling light.

The Brief: I’m going to ask you a question that goes right to the jugular. Why are some production companies closing? 

Fenske: One reason is that a lot of new companies opened up and then the recession hit. There just wasn’t enough work to spread around.

Also, the industry became more internet driven; we didn’t need all the “trappings” we used to need. Some companies didn’t react to the changes and cut their overheads in time. They lumbered along with big spaces and too many people on staff.

The Brief: You saw change coming?

Fenske: This is where my strength is. I’m the person who figures things out. So LTB did housekeeping 5 or 6 years ago

The Brief: What specific changes did LTB make?

Fenske: We changed the breadth of everything. We only hire when we need to. We don’t have like a hundred people on staff anymore. We have what it takes to maintain the business, and when we need to staff-up we do that. So if we don’t have jobs for a couple of weeks, we’re fine.

The Brief: LTB converted to digital early too.

Fenske: Ten years ago. 

The Brief: How come?

Fenske: At the time, we were shooting all over the world for President’s Choice with Bensimon-Byrne, so we started using Beta SP Aeroflex and the Sony 900 HD. You can travel very light with digital. Unlike cans and cans of film, I could throw the tapes in my shoulder bag and get on the plane. You can get home with it edited. That’s another article altogether.

The Brief: Okay. While I have you and you seem to read the future fairly well, do you think the industry will be all digital at some point?

Fenske: Yeah. But there will always be someone who wants to shoot film.

The Brief: Like vinyl.

Fenske: Like driving a vintage Jag.

The Brief: That would be you!

Scott Mackenzie and new math.

The Brief: How much does it cost to produce a high-end TV spot today?

Mackenzie: Before, an expensive 30-second spot would run you, on the shooting side, $175,000. Then two years ago, when we started seeing the contraction, that budget came down to maybe $150,000… I would say the budgets are probably down anywhere from 10-20%.

The Brief: And the number of commercials?

Mackenzie: The number of commercials is probably down 20%.

The Brief would like to note that at the annual February Freeze, Paul Bronfman, owner of William F. White, a leading equipment supplier to commercial production, estimated the decline of commercial production at roughly 50% over the past two or three years.

The Brief: How about the number of shooting days?

Mackenzie: The day on days is probably down 25%. I don’t know what the total would be for the community, but if the community was shooting 1200 days a year, we’re now probably shooting 900 days a years.

You have a global contraction, and economically, the way it manifests itself in advertising, is there are three kinds of production: one that has money, one that has days, and then there’s production that doesn’t have any money or any days. There are all different price categories. What we do on our side is manage the expectations of each of the different categories.

The challenge is even when you don’t have money, you want everything that you can get creatively on both sides because we’re obviously working for the agency and the client.

The creative team want it to be as big as they can make it, and the director wants it to be as big as he can make it and we try to satisfy everybody’s wish list.

The Brief: Smaller budgets and fewer shooting days. Ouch!

Mackenzie: It makes it hard because volume of work is necessary for infrastructure, and on our side it’s so we can mentor new directors and bring new people in, and I think it’s the same on the creative side – so it’s a challenge.

The Brief: How do you see the industry moving forward?

Mackenzie: The good news is that the recession’s over. It just hasn’t manifested itself on the street. The consumer doesn’t know it’s over, and the advertiser is waiting for the consumer to recognize it. And what’s been happening in the last – I would say – two months is that we’ve started to see the business coming back, but it’s coming back with a new reality.

The Brief: The “new reality”? That sounds like a euphemism for something unpleasant.

Mackenzie: Well, we will have to be more efficient with how we spend money on the process side. The process of production is tighter. Tighter on our prep time and on our shoot days. In the past we’d sometimes shoot 14-16 hour days, now we’re doing 12. We don’t have the money for overtime.

But, I’d say we’ve always been the most efficient in North America on a shoot day anyway. Whether you’re shooting in Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal you get the best bang for your buck on a production day compared to shooting in the U.S..

The Brief: Are there any big changes that impact the new reality?

Mackenzie: The big changes are moving to digital cinematography.

The Brief: That sounds familiar.

Mackenzie: When you look at shooting film for a day, you’ve got a camera that’s $5,000, and you’ve got film stock that’s $10,000. If you go digital, you’ve got a camera that’s $4.000, and you’ve got digital that comes in somewhere around $4500.00, once you do the cloning that’s necessary. So you’re saving over $5,000 a shoot day.

The management of the creative also lets you save money. You can have a cast of 30 or you can have a cast of 10. And if you have a cast of 10 you have less casting, less wardrobe, less people feed… etc.

The Brief: So digital saves the day.

Mackenzie: Digital is usually there for cost-savings first, and for creative second. But digital gives you some things that more money can’t buy.

The Brief: Such as?

Mackenzie: Digital’s a quicker result. And instant gratification.

You can shoot digital and walk away with a disc that day, and the manipulation of it is easier on the post side. The time line’s quicker.

To the educated eye there’s still a difference between film and digital. But the technologies are getting closer, and I think we’ll see digital grow to match film.

The Brief would like to thank Wayne Fenske and Scott Mackenzie for their insights.

For the Superbowl 2011 commercials you (sadly) missed in Canada, click here.

Sources:

Scott Mackenzie, Radke Film Group

Wayne Fenske, LTB Films

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Commercial Production – Post Recession

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

The Brief spoke with Wayne Fenske, founder and Executive Producer of LTB Films, and Scott Mackenzie, Partner and Executive Producer at Radke Film Group, to scope out the changes in television production – 2011. 

Wayne Fenske – Housekeeping and traveling light.

The Brief: I’m going to ask you a question that goes right to the jugular. Why are some production companies closing? 

Fenske: One reason is that a lot of new companies opened up and then the recession hit. There just wasn’t enough work to spread around.

Also, the industry became more internet driven; we didn’t need all the “trappings” we used to need. Some companies didn’t react to the changes and cut their overheads in time. They lumbered along with big spaces and too many people on staff.

The Brief: You saw change coming?

Fenske: This is where my strength is. I’m the person who figures things out. So LTB did housekeeping 5 or 6 years ago

The Brief: What specific changes did LTB make?

Fenske: We changed the breadth of everything. We only hire when we need to. We don’t have like a hundred people on staff anymore. We have what it takes to maintain the business, and when we need to staff-up we do that. So if we don’t have jobs for a couple of weeks, we’re fine.

The Brief: LTB converted to digital early too.

Fenske: Ten years ago. 

The Brief: How come?

Fenske: At the time, we were shooting all over the world for President’s Choice with Bensimon-Byrne, so we started using Beta SP Aeroflex and the Sony 900 HD. You can travel very light with digital. Unlike cans and cans of film, I could throw the tapes in my shoulder bag and get on the plane. You can get home with it edited. That’s another article altogether.

The Brief: Okay. While I have you and you seem to read the future fairly well, do you think the industry will be all digital at some point?

Fenske: Yeah. But there will always be someone who wants to shoot film.

The Brief: Like vinyl.

Fenske: Like driving a vintage Jag.

The Brief: That would be you!

Scott Mackenzie and new math.

The Brief: How much does it cost to produce a high-end TV spot today?

Mackenzie: Before, an expensive 30-second spot would run you, on the shooting side, $175,000. Then two years ago, when we started seeing the contraction, that budget came down to maybe $150,000… I would say the budgets are probably down anywhere from 10-20%.

The Brief: And the number of commercials?

Mackenzie: The number of commercials is probably down 20%.

The Brief would like to note that at the annual February Freeze, Paul Bronfman, owner of William F. White, a leading equipment supplier to commercial production, estimated the decline of commercial production at roughly 50% over the past two or three years.

The Brief: How about the number of shooting days?

Mackenzie: The day on days is probably down 25%. I don’t know what the total would be for the community, but if the community was shooting 1200 days a year, we’re now probably shooting 900 days a years.

You have a global contraction, and economically, the way it manifests itself in advertising, is there are three kinds of production: one that has money, one that has days, and then there’s production that doesn’t have any money or any days. There are all different price categories. What we do on our side is manage the expectations of each of the different categories.

The challenge is even when you don’t have money, you want everything that you can get creatively on both sides because we’re obviously working for the agency and the client.

The creative team want it to be as big as they can make it, and the director wants it to be as big as he can make it and we try to satisfy everybody’s wish list.

The Brief: Smaller budgets and fewer shooting days. Ouch!

Mackenzie: It makes it hard because volume of work is necessary for infrastructure, and on our side it’s so we can mentor new directors and bring new people in, and I think it’s the same on the creative side – so it’s a challenge.

The Brief: How do you see the industry moving forward?

Mackenzie: The good news is that the recession’s over. It just hasn’t manifested itself on the street. The consumer doesn’t know it’s over, and the advertiser is waiting for the consumer to recognize it. And what’s been happening in the last – I would say – two months is that we’ve started to see the business coming back, but it’s coming back with a new reality.

The Brief: The “new reality”? That sounds like a euphemism for something unpleasant.

Mackenzie: Well, we will have to be more efficient with how we spend money on the process side. The process of production is tighter. Tighter on our prep time and on our shoot days. In the past we’d sometimes shoot 14-16 hour days, now we’re doing 12. We don’t have the money for overtime.

But, I’d say we’ve always been the most efficient in North America on a shoot day anyway. Whether you’re shooting in Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal you get the best bang for your buck on a production day compared to shooting in the U.S..

The Brief: Are there any big changes that impact the new reality?

Mackenzie: The big changes are moving to digital cinematography.

The Brief: That sounds familiar.

Mackenzie: When you look at shooting film for a day, you’ve got a camera that’s $5,000, and you’ve got film stock that’s $10,000. If you go digital, you’ve got a camera that’s $4.000, and you’ve got digital that comes in somewhere around $4500.00, once you do the cloning that’s necessary. So you’re saving over $5,000 a shoot day.

The management of the creative also lets you save money. You can have a cast of 30 or you can have a cast of 10. And if you have a cast of 10 you have less casting, less wardrobe, less people feed… etc.

The Brief: So digital saves the day.

Mackenzie: Digital is usually there for cost-savings first, and for creative second. But digital gives you some things that more money can’t buy.

The Brief: Such as?

Mackenzie: Digital’s a quicker result. And instant gratification.

You can shoot digital and walk away with a disc that day, and the manipulation of it is easier on the post side. The time line’s quicker.

To the educated eye there’s still a difference between film and digital. But the technologies are getting closer, and I think we’ll see digital grow to match film.

The Brief would like to thank Wayne Fenske and Scott Mackenzie for their insights.

For the Superbowl 2011 commercials you (sadly) missed in Canada, click here.

Sources:

Scott Mackenzie, Radke Film Group

Wayne Fenske, LTB Films

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Commercial Production – Post Recession

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

The Brief spoke with Wayne Fenske, founder and Executive Producer of LTB Films, and Scott Mackenzie, Partner and Executive Producer at Radke Film Group, to scope out the changes in television production – 2011. 

Wayne Fenske – Housekeeping and traveling light.

The Brief: I’m going to ask you a question that goes right to the jugular. Why are some production companies closing? 

Fenske: One reason is that a lot of new companies opened up and then the recession hit. There just wasn’t enough work to spread around.

Also, the industry became more internet driven; we didn’t need all the “trappings” we used to need. Some companies didn’t react to the changes and cut their overheads in time. They lumbered along with big spaces and too many people on staff.

The Brief: You saw change coming?

Fenske: This is where my strength is. I’m the person who figures things out. So LTB did housekeeping 5 or 6 years ago

The Brief: What specific changes did LTB make?

Fenske: We changed the breadth of everything. We only hire when we need to. We don’t have like a hundred people on staff anymore. We have what it takes to maintain the business, and when we need to staff-up we do that. So if we don’t have jobs for a couple of weeks, we’re fine.

The Brief: LTB converted to digital early too.

Fenske: Ten years ago. 

The Brief: How come?

Fenske: At the time, we were shooting all over the world for President’s Choice with Bensimon-Byrne, so we started using Beta SP Aeroflex and the Sony 900 HD. You can travel very light with digital. Unlike cans and cans of film, I could throw the tapes in my shoulder bag and get on the plane. You can get home with it edited. That’s another article altogether.

The Brief: Okay. While I have you and you seem to read the future fairly well, do you think the industry will be all digital at some point?

Fenske: Yeah. But there will always be someone who wants to shoot film.

The Brief: Like vinyl.

Fenske: Like driving a vintage Jag.

The Brief: That would be you!

Scott Mackenzie and new math.

The Brief: How much does it cost to produce a high-end TV spot today?

Mackenzie: Before, an expensive 30-second spot would run you, on the shooting side, $175,000. Then two years ago, when we started seeing the contraction, that budget came down to maybe $150,000… I would say the budgets are probably down anywhere from 10-20%.

The Brief: And the number of commercials?

Mackenzie: The number of commercials is probably down 20%.

The Brief would like to note that at the annual February Freeze, Paul Bronfman, owner of William F. White, a leading equipment supplier to commercial production, estimated the decline of commercial production at roughly 50% over the past two or three years.

The Brief: How about the number of shooting days?

Mackenzie: The day on days is probably down 25%. I don’t know what the total would be for the community, but if the community was shooting 1200 days a year, we’re now probably shooting 900 days a years.

You have a global contraction, and economically, the way it manifests itself in advertising, is there are three kinds of production: one that has money, one that has days, and then there’s production that doesn’t have any money or any days. There are all different price categories. What we do on our side is manage the expectations of each of the different categories.

The challenge is even when you don’t have money, you want everything that you can get creatively on both sides because we’re obviously working for the agency and the client.

The creative team want it to be as big as they can make it, and the director wants it to be as big as he can make it and we try to satisfy everybody’s wish list.

The Brief: Smaller budgets and fewer shooting days. Ouch!

Mackenzie: It makes it hard because volume of work is necessary for infrastructure, and on our side it’s so we can mentor new directors and bring new people in, and I think it’s the same on the creative side – so it’s a challenge.

The Brief: How do you see the industry moving forward?

Mackenzie: The good news is that the recession’s over. It just hasn’t manifested itself on the street. The consumer doesn’t know it’s over, and the advertiser is waiting for the consumer to recognize it. And what’s been happening in the last – I would say – two months is that we’ve started to see the business coming back, but it’s coming back with a new reality.

The Brief: The “new reality”? That sounds like a euphemism for something unpleasant.

Mackenzie: Well, we will have to be more efficient with how we spend money on the process side. The process of production is tighter. Tighter on our prep time and on our shoot days. In the past we’d sometimes shoot 14-16 hour days, now we’re doing 12. We don’t have the money for overtime.

But, I’d say we’ve always been the most efficient in North America on a shoot day anyway. Whether you’re shooting in Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal you get the best bang for your buck on a production day compared to shooting in the U.S..

The Brief: Are there any big changes that impact the new reality?

Mackenzie: The big changes are moving to digital cinematography.

The Brief: That sounds familiar.

Mackenzie: When you look at shooting film for a day, you’ve got a camera that’s $5,000, and you’ve got film stock that’s $10,000. If you go digital, you’ve got a camera that’s $4.000, and you’ve got digital that comes in somewhere around $4500.00, once you do the cloning that’s necessary. So you’re saving over $5,000 a shoot day.

The management of the creative also lets you save money. You can have a cast of 30 or you can have a cast of 10. And if you have a cast of 10 you have less casting, less wardrobe, less people feed… etc.

The Brief: So digital saves the day.

Mackenzie: Digital is usually there for cost-savings first, and for creative second. But digital gives you some things that more money can’t buy.

The Brief: Such as?

Mackenzie: Digital’s a quicker result. And instant gratification.

You can shoot digital and walk away with a disc that day, and the manipulation of it is easier on the post side. The time line’s quicker.

To the educated eye there’s still a difference between film and digital. But the technologies are getting closer, and I think we’ll see digital grow to match film.

The Brief would like to thank Wayne Fenske and Scott Mackenzie for their insights.

For the Superbowl 2011 commercials you (sadly) missed in Canada, click here.

Sources:

Scott Mackenzie, Radke Film Group

Wayne Fenske, LTB Films

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
LinkedIn // Facebook // Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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