Before I had my own production company I freelanced at many others and before I freelanced I worked at a creative agency for a few years and before I worked in an agency I spent days trawling websites to fire off my cv to both production companies and agencies. I’ve spent lots of time in and around them is what I’m trying to say.
They all have their own quirks naturally but you’d be surprised at how many things they share. That’s why I wrote this Cut-out ‘N’ Keep guide!
(I don’t know… I don’t know why you’d want to cut it out tbh, I mean why would you print something off then cut it out of the print out – if you want to make it smaller just fold it or something, what is this? Blue Peter? Come on dude?! Maybe just bookmark it huh?)
Anyhoo, on with the list – tbh you can probably extend this to many design, tech and marketing agencies too. Do feel free to holla if you think something should be added. This list is, in all probability, inexhaustible…
1. A QUIRKY FACT ABOUT EACH OF THE STAFF
Underneath the quirky hoverable pictures – we’ll get onto them in a sec- there’s text, a short ‘serious’ bio showing background, skills, experience awards etc, drawing you in making you think it’s a normal place to work then…
Holy cow does Sandra the production manager like biscuits?!
The idea of this obviously is to make everyone seem like human and it’s great – but a lot of the time if you break down the actual trivia – the stuff that they like, the ‘quirky facts’ are just stuff everyone with a mind, eyes and 1 or more taste buds likes, ie does anyone not like biscuits?
Even if, heaven forfend, you had a chronic and irreversible allergy to biscuits you’re still gonna sneak a biccy aren’t you – even though you know scientifically the exact results of this experiment – even a man who knows full well that he is in for a night of rashes, blocked airways, anaphylactic shock and possible death will take a biscuit if proffered. I mean!
Jason the filmmaker likes travelling! Again, does anyone not like travelling? More to the point, does anyone readily admit to not liking travelling? And if you include within the remit of travelling also taking holidays – does anyone… Does anyone not like holidays? Even if you actually didn’t like travelling you would be obliged by the nature of being a cool and out there creative to at least pretend to.
2. ALTERNATIVE ‘CRAZY’ STAFF HEAD SHOTS
If you haven’t witnessed this before – load up pretty much every and any video production company or video agency site – go to the about or team or staff page. Look at the pictures then hover your mouse over them one by one…
You’re presented with various headshots – ‘why, these are stiff, formal, professional business men and women! Wouldn’t hurt a fly would they? Butter wouldn’t melt in their mou..’.
But then you mouse over their pictures. ‘MY GOD THESE GUYS ARE CRAZY! They pull a WILD POSE!’
What jokes me the most about these – is there’s always one dude who just doesn’t want to play along – and so when you hover the mouse it just changes from strait laced – say, James – to… LIke a more casual but still very much strait laced James. ‘Guys, I’m not really a crazy pose kinda guy’
Like they were all lined up taking the picture and it was like ‘come on James – you can do better than that! And then he just maybe turns his head about 30 degrees and does a tight-lipped smile and muttering something about ‘important emails’ scampers away.
3. THERE’S AN OFFICE PET
There will always be an office cat/dog/fish/some other pet by law. That is the LAW.
We’re really creative LOOK AT OUR DOG!
It’s great fun to work in this video production house LOOK AT OUR DOG!
We’ll come up with the best ideas LOOK AT OUR DOG!
But this is an office environment! What is a dog/cat/Misc. animal doing in an office environment?! ‘We don’t play by the rules’ they say, ‘is this even really an office?’ ‘Are these even real people?’
This is the film/video/design/creative industry! And we do what we want! Hell, sometimes the dog is the guy in charge.
4. THE CHAIRS AREN’T CHAIRS
When is a chair not a chair? When it’s in a creative workspace!
Bean bags are pretty on point, and yes, the standing desk, extra points if the standing desk is combined with some sort of active exercise like, say, a bike or running machine.
I’m also thinking… Some kind of funny chair? Or otherwise odd seating arrangement. Obviously benches are a shorthand for collaboration and so abound in yer creative quarters.
I am guilty as sin with this – my last office had a drum set in.
5. AN AFFECTATION OR A NOVELTY
I’m thinking… Maybe there’s shots of jelly vodka on a Friday afternoon? Basically – if Twitter or Instagram has a day for it they will solemnly observe this day with all the reverence of an evangelical cult.
We’re so creative at this video production company we have pizza on a…. Tuesday?! And we’ve dedicated over a dozen Instas to it!!!!
And it goes without saying, A ping pong table or table football, is legally required, upon pain of death. As is a mural or some kind of graffiti. Bonus points if you have sweary motivational messages. Added bonus points if there’s lots of bare brickwork and a high ceiling. And if there’s a fixed gear bike hung up on the bare brick wall you won the grand jury prize homie.
6. MANY, MANY, ITERATIONS OF HOW CRAZY AND PECULIAR SAID COMPANY IS.
This is kinda fun, but does get annoying if overdone. Typically there’ll be a line on the ‘team’ page saying ‘meet the crazy people at our video production company!’
The thing is about creativity as a concept, process and indeed as a tool is that it’s entirely ineffable. I think in order to market that sense of creativity agencies, film & video production companies et al have to exude a sense of the absurd, the surreal the abstract, the edgy. In what is actually in business terms a fairly simply money in money out model it, conversely, can’t be seen as such and has to reek of the cool, the edgy, the crazy.
You know what else is seen (wrongly, obviously) as cool, edgy and inexorably linked with creative people?
Probably not gonna dedicate a day to it though
7. THE COMPANY HAS A SIMPLY RIDICULOUS NAME
Quick hard and fast rule for a company name generally speaking (and specifically if you’re in the corporate sector) I’m thinking: surname/full name/initials of the owner either on its own or + associates/partners (ie ABC & Partners) or the above + name of the industry ie ABC Consultants. Or! As above with some sort of a take on it – ie a consultancy might be called Consultius or something. It’s either those or it’s a made up word usually with a Latinate or Ancient Greek flavour to it, and there’s nothing wrong with this at all – there’s some superlative companies out there that go for this.
…On the other hand, there’s some bat sh!t crazy names for a lot of video companies and creative agencies…
This is why I LOVE creative industry names, they throw the rule book out the window mulch it to paper mache make a rudimentary medieval trebuchet with it and fire it into Yer Nan’s Face.
As a rule, the more absolutely insane the better. Just have a look at these production companies names, they’re terrific…
Coffee & TV
Feed Me Light
Happy Means Content
Not To Scale
…Ye gods. (that isn’t a company that’s me saying that)
Like I say, this is a facet of the creative industries I LOVE!
8. COULDN’T GET THE EXACT URL OF THE COMPANY NAME? PUT ‘WE ARE’ IN FRONT, THEN THE COMPANY NAME, BINGO!
9. AWFULLY META BLOG POSTS LIKE THESE STUFFED WITH GOOGLE-BAIT KEYWORDS TO PUSH THEM UP THE GOOGLE RANKINGS AND INCLUDE A BACKLINK FOR NO GOOD REASON.
Touché, touché Shameless backlinking going on.. No context or anything, shameless.
10. AN ALARMING HATRED OF THE FONT COMIC SANS
I just… I just don’t know why but, put your ear to the ground within a 5 mile square radius of any video production company or creative agency and you’ll hear a rant which goes a little like this:
“Why would you ever write anything in Comic Sans, if you send an email using Comic Sans it’s the electronic equivalent of daubing it on a piece of toilet roll with a balled fist of crayons,
I have literally seen a two year old child snap a pop up book closed and shake his little head with disgust at it being written using the Comic Sans font. I have literally seen this (I have never seen this ever).
Literally. If you sent an email to me, right now, with the offer, sworn on your life to give me one hundred million of Her Majesty’s pounds in sterling, and all I had to do was reply using the font Comic Sans I would not do it. I would rather be a hundred million pounds short than perform a simple request written in Comic Sans, truly I am serious about this.”
And, from pretty much every other conversation I’ve ever had with creative dudes re: fonts CS has been numero uno on the hit list. Yeah, there’s bug bears in there – a few people have nothing too nice to say about Times New Roman and a couple of people about the other default fonts Helvetica and Ariel but nothing provokes the ire quite like CS. Let’s put it like this shall we? Those dudes that got fired with an email using CS as the font probably hate CS less than yer average garden variety production company or creative agency worker, truly this is real.