Production houses must adapt to keep up with the growing demand for content

Like all creative industries, the production business is in a state of rapid change, change that is causing a quiet but rising panic amongst traditional production houses. Katie Trew explains.

I remember a time, not so long ago, when a client would highlight in a brief that they wanted an ’always on’ strategy or campaign. When is a brand ever off now? Marketers are under increasing pressure to stretch their budgets further, to create more, because they need more. It’s our job as production houses to find ways to deliver. Enter, the new brand of in-house agency production.

I have just wrapped shooting a campaign where a traditional singular TVC budget was required to produce ninety seconds of broadcast content, a two-minute short film, a three-minute behind the scenes video and a suite of bitesize, digital social pieces. And that’s not including the load of animated gifs and stills for print, outdoor and digital.

The days of the singular TVC are over

How was this achieved? We divide and conquer. We work with production partners who are open to changing up their business models and trialling news rules of engagement. Traditional production houses can’t deliver all of what our clients need, and neither can we, but together we can move mountains. Mountains of content, that is.

Like many others do today, we ask suppliers to rethink how they work with us. Every project comes through the door with its own set of challenges around budget, deadline, and of course, most importantly, the creative idea. Our role is, on behalf of our clients, to maximise all three, to the best of our abilities. That means getting the right people around the table for that particular project. More often than not, this means a blend of our team, production company resources, and freelance expertise, curated to best deliver on a particular projects’ distinctive set of challenges.

We are hurtling towards a world where production decoupling will be the norm. Can we engage with a director to work with our in-house production team? Can we shoot the content and then post it elsewhere? Or vice versa? Can we contract your production house to shoot the broadcast content, whilst sharing shooting resources, talent, props and crew, so we can capture and produce additional content? This iteration of production decoupling keeps the idea closer to the creatives, gives our client more bang for their diminishing buck, and provides a revenue stream to the agency.

This is where the hackles come up and cue the rising panic from production houses who are reliant on the traditional rules of engagement with advertising agencies – where large budgets were handed over in exchange for a finished product. But believe me when I say that a well-positioned in-house agency production company is not the enemy here, in fact we should be seen as a friend and advocate for the growth of the entire industry.

We are in front of our clients, day in day out, educating them on the importance of an always-on video strategy. We are fighting for bigger and more consistent budgets for content creation, and we are winning. And it’s a win for the entire production sector.

Katie Trew is the executive producer of King Street, The Brand Agency’s in-house content production division. Before returning to Perth in November last year she spent 10 years at Nine Entertainment Co as head of Powered Studios, formally 9mm, the networks’ in-house production business.


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