Monday, September 17, 2018

Who's driving?

I'm blessed at work in a few ways. For one, I'm surrounded by a crew of outstanding producers. Producers do more than make things possible. They make things easier. They make your ideas b e t t e r. To date, they've kept me from growing completely grey.

Leading our production crew is executive producer Eric Soloway. During his career, Eric's been a writer and a director. But at heart, he's a producer. 

I ran into Eric last week running, as I was running, between floors, doing what we do. That is, rushing to a meeting. He asked me if I ever let guests post on Ad Aged.

I do.

If they're as good as Eric.

Here's Eric's piece:

Put the producer back in the driver’s seat

In the pre-Uber days, I always drove the rent-a-car on shoots.

We all got there on time and on budget. The end. If time allowed, we even made a pit stop or two. At least a quickie to In and Out Burger. Now I try to be the one who orders the Uber. But with the increasing scrutiny on per diems, that responsibility now gets passed around. And with self-driving cars on the horizon, I’m getting worried.  And everyone else should be too. Because we need drivers. And those drivers need to be producers.

Here’s why:

Creatives shouldn’t drive. They should be in the back seat with their edibles or staring out the window for inspiration. Creatives are like the guy who crawled into the backseat of his Tesla while it was in auto mode because it seemed like a cool idea at the time. He died. I love my creatives. I want to keep them safe and happy. So I drive.

The account person should be riding shotgun. That’s the strategic seat. That’s the agenda seat. That’s the line of communication to the outside world seat. Plus, he or she needs to pay for gas. The account person shouldn’t drive because they will follow the GPS too precisely. Remember the couple whose GPS told them to take a left into the pond? And they did! If that kind of situation arises, the producer will say, “I’m not turning into that pond!” The account person will say, “But that’s what it says to do.” The creatives will say, “That might be fun.” Then the producer will remind the account person that it will cost money and time to tow the car out of the pond and say, “I know a better route.” It’s a little like refusing to award a job without an approved script. Yes, I’ve had to put the brakes on that idea more than once.

If you’re wondering where the business manager is in this situation, they’re the OnStar button. They’re Hey Siri. They’re the absolute truth when everyone needs it and should always be the first call when the road gets bumpy. When you get pulled over by the SAG police, who are a lot less friendly than that retired cop at the craft service table, you better have your story straight. And everyone looks to the producer to do the talking.

Lately, people seem to look to producers for an explanation when things go wrong instead of appreciating how much a good one can make things go right. And as I’m seeing producers and even entire production departments piling up on the side of the road, I’m concerned agencies are putting too much stock into self-driving cars. Well folks, that future is not very bright. Why do you think Elon Musk is toking up on camera? If we go that route, we’ll end up with everyone head down in the car, seatbelts fastened, looking at their smartphones searching for content that never got made because, say it with me now:


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