B-G-B (Bonus Guest Blog): Avoiding the Diplodocus Dilemma: Moving from Broadcast to Content Production

Picture 1Guest Blogger: Patrick Brennan

The ever-charming, eminently capable Patrick Brennan graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Communications major and began his career in production with a Madison cable access show featuring shelter animals. After moving to Chicago, he worked various freelance crew gigs (“Anyone need a second second AD?”), and slowly worked his way into advertising through the Leap Partnership, BBDO, and the DDB dub room.  He got his first staff job at JWT, then moved on to Leo Burnett and high profile work for McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Nintendo and Samsung.  Element 79 eventually wrangled him in as a Senior Producer where he applies his high standards for film to both television and interactive work.  He likes to bike, cook, travel and lavish attention on his wife and bull terrier.  He would also like to sell his condo.

In the ad world, rarely will you see the gathering of more specialists, more experts in diverse fields, than you will at a broadcast commercial shoot. In order to create the perfect :30 world where every nuance is scrutinized (local cable TV ads notwithstanding), every element from the carpet to the cat is discussed ad nauseum among the client, the agency, the director, and experts in the fields of carpets and cats.

blueprints_main_levelDue to this level of specialization, the TV shoot is often where advertisers spend most of their creative production dollar (and given the budgets our industry has seen lately, I use the singular form of dollar intentionally). In order to gain efficiencies of scale and stretch the production budget, the TV shoot has increasingly become the locus of all efforts to acquire material for other media. Thus, the TV shoot has become the headwaters for the flow of creative content. It has become the norm rather than the exception for agencies to shoot a TV spot while also acquiring assets for digital, stills for print, and the inevitable “making of” video that rarely sees the light of day (not unlike the video’s editor).

Because production has become so integrated, the title “Broadcast Producer” is starting to go the way of the Diplodocus and ¾” tape. We now call ourselves “Content Producers” or “Creative Content Producers”. In some cases, our titles seem to cross over to other professions entirely, like “Content Architect” or “Creative Content Specialists” giving the impression that we bustle about the halls of ad agencies with stethoscopes and armloads of blueprints.

Hopefully, unlike the Diplodocus, the producer has evolved. The resourcefulness and creativity required to be a good producer can be applied outside the Broadcast realm. It’s not Aquaman fighting in space. There are new terms to learn, new shenanigans to call bullshit on, and auspiciously, new people to meet.

By Patrick Brennan, Senior Producer, Element 79  Visit him at pangaean-american.com