Tuesday, 11 September 2012

CHALLENGE 2: Communication

Disclosure have a reputation for reflecting on successes and challenges evenly. We believe that the obstacles shape up more than the praise and in light of that, we bring you a blog series on how our slip ups could help you avoid the same things...

Now we know that in the creative world the word ‘corporation’ is a little bit dirty. It’s fine if these humungous financial behemoths happen to be paying for a media job, but for the rest of the time they are passionless, creative-starved media deserts. Here at Disclosure we like to take a step back however and look at the positives as well as the negatives. One thing we’ve observed in such institutions is that they do something that we in media land don’t, and that’s communicate.

Of course not all corporations communicate as effectively as they could, and we know of one or two stories of miscommunication that warrant a full on palm-slap to the face, but if there are entire departments dedicated to such work surely it’s something they take seriously, and so should we.

Whenever a media project kicks off you could almost split the people involved into three distinct ‘departments’; technical crew (D.O.P, gaffer, sound etc),  performance people (actors, dancers, performers etc) and production management (producers, directors etc). As we all know,  when a load of creatives come together everyone wants their skills, personalities and ultimately their voice to shine through. As creatives, we aren’t always very good at that.

Over the years, we have come to recognise that the art cannot comprimise the business reality of any production after all, as they say, ‘show-business’ is 90% business and 10% show. But conversely the business reality can’t stifle the creative flair that goes into any given production. The key to this delicate and otherworldly balance? Communication.

Taking a leaf out of the corporation book, and using the idea of departmentalising your production team, you’ll find that a straightforward hierarchy of communication can be formed to enable the smoothest possible process for your media project, whether that be live, recorded or anything at all.

For broadcasters this model is mapped out for them, however as an independent production company Disclosure are responsible for providing clear parameters by which our teams can work. We expect our production teams to adopt the same ethics and common sense as each other and to proactively communicate between each other. For example, the assistant director and production manager are crucial in translating our initial planning into a shooting schedule.

So, our TOP FIVE TIPS would be:

  1. Define your project clearly from the very beginning, ensuring you understand what elements belong to what members of your team.
  2. Gather a team who understand the importance of communication between departments, maybe asking them how they dealt with a communication issue, at the interview.
  3. Group your team into ‘departments’ and make sure everyone knows who everyone is from the very beginning.
  4. Producers and directors should keep an eye open for early signs of miscommunication by being part of everyones team; no one should feel they can’t talk to another member of the team.
  5. Create a fair and functional hierarchy within the departments to the relevant people can deal with the relevant problems without the producers or directors getting involved in smaller issues.

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