Post production 2007-2008

Its been well publicised that 2007 was a bit of an annis horribilis for many areas of the industry, including post production. We made it through, and were profitable at that, but 2008 I fear will see even more casualties as production companies bring more and more television work in-house on their own FCP & Avid suites, and there will probably be a rise in advertising agencies doing the same thing. A couple of people asked me at our Christmas party why on earth I started The Look in such a bad year – I didn’t really have a constructive answer other than “When really is a good time?”.

One thing is for certain though, well paying television work is unfortunately disappearing, with only high-end drama still getting reasonable budgets thrown at it – but nothing near the figures dished out five years ago (possibly upto 30-40% less) as I understand it.  However, it does mean if you can keep your costs down and quality & service up you can compete with anybody else in the market.

One comment that has come up from some of the MDs of large facilities is that boutique houses such as mine cannot compete in the same arenas as their own facilities, one comment from an MD was that if you wanted to post a feature, you cant expect a boutique to be able to handle the project to such a high standard. I have to take exception at this, having completed two features in the last few months at The Look I feel strongly that both were finished to a very high standard with equal quality of service to our clients. However, it it worth noting, that I did learn a great deal from my four years at MPC working alongside some very experienced people, but as with all these things, regardless of the size of a facility it comes down to the quality of the people working there, not just in their expertise but in their sheer dedication to the service to their clients – something that boutiques can often have over larger facilities due to better training and the diminished responsibility attitudes larger facility’s employees often have.

Having just completed the 35mm grade on a project for Fox Searchlight I know the production are extremely pleased with the results, certainly there were some very long hours worked, but there is something about features, particularly when they are something that you can be very proud to have worked on as in this case, that tend to drive you to put twelve or more hours of work into a day. Being the MD of the company as well means I go the extra mile to deliver something that I can be very proud of as well, it is after all a piece of work which represents both the company’s output as well as me as an operator/colourist, MD, technical supervisor and senior producer!

Shooting on 35mm is certainly not going to go away in the short-term, and 2007 was meant to be the year of the RED camera – but its only just started to get firm delivery dates – but I think this year will be the explosion, and then the inevitable “its good, but is it really That good?” argument by the end of the year. If someone can make money out of this camera, and that is likely to the be production only – not anyone on my side of the playing field, then thats great – but it will naturally attract low budget productions who will want to use the money saved to shoot two features at a time, rather than put all the money into one. I’m not grumbling, as so many are doing round town, its unfortunate, but it makes it even more important to build relationships with good productions and clients who pay on time, support their suppliers and produce great quality work. Even in my eleven months of business, I have become tired of productions that often say they really need a good price and that it will be much appreciated, only to pay very late. Low budgets seem to equal poor management and experience, and overly juggled figures and cashflow problems something we can all do without.

Our partner companies The Difference visual effects and Rocket Group are going from strength to strength, which is great not only for Alexis Haggar and Chris Eades their MDs, but also for myself and the other suppliers we work with. The latter is working over the Christmas break on a very high profile campaign for a major technology manufacturer, while the former has struck a very good relationship working with well known and brilliant film titles designer Matt Curtis, all helping us to broaden our reach to new exciting clients with good projects and healthy budgets to aid our expansion and enjoyment of our work.

We could well be heading for a recession in 2008, its seems almost inevitable now, if 2007 was choppy, I think this next year will be bordering on stormy – at least till the Summer,

See you on the other side……….


Thomas Urbye

Company Director

The Look

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