The Ups and Downs of The Biz
“One day you are a hero, the next day a goat.” George Watkins, a veteran director in Atlanta, told me this as I began my first day in the business. This statement has held true. As soon as I believed I had the ad business figured out, it would throw me on my ass. Adding to the perplexities, years later, my pet goat “Moose” helped us create one of the top Super Bowl spots in 2013.
Steve Colby, hero and goat, Pogo Pictures.
I could wax poetically about what the production business used to be 15 years ago when Pogo Pictures opened, but that’s conversation left for a dark bar, a bottle of whiskey, and a bunch of OGs. The name Pogo evolved from experiencing the ups and downs of this business. Frustrating, maddening, and impossible as it can be, we do it, and we love it. From our own deep, dark sicknesses we cannot imagine doing anything else. Sure, we talk frequently about selling flip-flops on an island somewhere (although I strongly feel most feet should stay hidden), but we never book the tickets.
So what is this business we are in…right now? Now it is about everything, everywhere, and therein lies the challenge. There are two billion people walking around with a video camera in their pocket. A production company must stay current and be represented in these “now” places. Now means content, longer format web ads, scripted and non-scripted series, movies, documentaries, and yep, even client direct marketing. Still needed, thank God, are :15 to :60 second TV commercials.
Today’s production companies are told, “Give me everything, faster, better, cheaper, oh yeah and entertain me, damn it.”
We must adapt quickly, and continue to do so. As I write this, we are prepping three commercials, one long-form web based ad, developing five TV series, and beginning one documentary. Half of this could disappear by the end of the month. It is the faster and faster running, throw away world of production. However, this “now” production does give us more opportunities and more creative outlets than ever before. We are in this business because we are attracted to unpredictability and the lack of a consistent routine. We must be challenged everyday, as though life itself is not challenging enough, waking up each morning not knowing whether today we will be a hero, or a goat.
Featured on page 103 of the March/April 2016 Oz Magazine.