The Photographer's Mail - - Column - AARON K

I’m sure that many pho­tog­ra­phers dream of shoot­ing in­ter­na­tional ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns for huge global brands, with shoot bud­gets of­ten ex­ceed­ing $100K — I know I do! But, at this up­per end of the pho­tog­ra­phy mar­ket, the stakes are very high and so are client ex­pec­ta­tions. To be taken se­ri­ously by the ad agen­cies who award these jobs, pho­tog­ra­phers need to of­fer a full range of pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tion ser­vices — such as lo­ca­tion scout­ing, tal­ent cast­ing, cater­ing trucks, child­min­ders, an­i­mal wran­glers, safety of­fi­cers, etc. For pho­tog­ra­phers who have agents, that’s no prob­lem, be­cause their photo agency can pro­vide pro­duc­tion sup­port. But what do you do if you don’t have an agent and you get the chance to bid on a big ad­ver­tis­ing job? Well, in that case, you sim­ply pick up the phone and call some­one like Briar Pacey, from the Pacey Pro­duc­tion Com­pany — who just hap­pens to be my in­ter­view sub­ject for this is­sue.

Aaron K: What’s your back­ground — how did you be­come a pro­ducer?

Briar Pacey: I started out as a cam­era as­sis­tant when I was 18 and straight out of art school then moved over to Lon­don for about eight years and ended up work­ing for quite a well-known pho­tog­ra­pher over there, a guy called Rankin. My role in­volved pro­duc­ing his ex­hi­bi­tions, books, per­sonal projects, and all sorts of com­mer­cial projects. So, I kind of fell into pro­duc­tion that way — want­ing to be a pho­tog­ra­pher ini­tially, and end­ing up just do­ing pro­duc­tion and re­ally en­joy­ing it. I came back to New Zealand and started up a hire stu­dio for my old boss, Janek Croy­don. Then I did a stint with the lovely girls at Our Pro­duc­tion Team, be­fore open­ing up the Pacey Pro­duc­tion Com­pany in 2008.

What sort of ser­vices does your pro­duc­tion com­pany pro­vide?

We pro­vide full-ser­vice pro­duc­tion — so, start­ing from the ini­tial shoot brief, we’ll pro­duce es­ti­mates, co­or­di­nate lo­gis­tics, find lo­ca­tions, source tal­ent, en­gage crew, man­age the shoot it­self, over­see post­pro­duc­tion, make sure the fi­nal out­put is de­liv­ered on time to the right peo­ple, fi­nal­ize bud­gets, and clean up any loose ends. We han­dle ev­ery as­pect of a shoot, from start to fin­ish, so pho­tog­ra­phers can fo­cus solely on be­ing cre­ative and don’t have worry about all the lo­gis­ti­cal de­tails.

Who are your typ­i­cal clients?

Our core busi­ness is in­ter­na­tional line pro­duc­tion, which is where over­seas pho­tog­ra­phers or film­mak­ers are com­ing to New Zealand as a shoot lo­ca­tion. We pro­vide very high-end ser­vices for those big cam­paigns be­ing shot here. For New Zealand pho­tog­ra­phers who don’t have agency rep­re­sen­ta­tion, we can help out when they get a re­ally size­able job that they don’t feel con­fi­dent pro­duc­ing by them­selves. So, they can just call me, and we can pro­vide pro­duc­tion ser­vices di­rectly to the client to en­sure that ev­ery­thing runs smoothly.

Can you help pho­tog­ra­phers with bid­ding/ es­ti­mat­ing?

Ab­so­lutely. It’s a tricky one for pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, be­cause, if the bid isn’t suc­cess­ful, there’s no charg­ing for ser­vices, but it’s the work that we need to do to land jobs. What I tend to do is come on-board with the pho­tog­ra­pher and help them through the whole bid­ding process, be­cause of­ten you’re do­ing five or six bids for each job as the brief keeps evolv­ing and chang­ing. If the pho­tog­ra­pher gets the job and then de­cides to go ahead with­out us­ing our pro­duc­tion ser­vices, I’ll charge for that process. But, gen­er­ally, you’re throw­ing your hat in the ring with the pho­tog­ra­pher, and you end up work­ing with them on the job to make sure they re­ally nail it for the client.

How would you de­scribe your role in the cre­ative process?

I’m the or­ga­nizer. I use my con­tacts to pull to­gether a cre­ative team that will achieve the best re­sult. I fa­cil­i­tate com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I ar­range the sched­ule. I run the crew. I man­age the bud­get. As a pro­ducer, you’re like the lynch­pin for the en­tire shoot — keep­ing ev­ery­one in­formed and on task, be­cause you know what’s hap­pen­ing across the en­tire job.

What are some com­mon prob­lems you en­counter when you’re pro­duc­ing a shoot?

It’s ev­ery­thing, I guess. The main chal­lenges tend to come from a lack of time or a lack of money. Of­ten they go hand in hand — which makes it dif­fi­cult. You just have to get good at man­ag­ing peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions — work­ing out the lo­gis­tics and in­tri­ca­cies, and of­fer­ing up op­tions [that] the bud­get al­lows. I love that puz­zle solv­ing.

What can pho­tog­ra­phers do to make your job eas­ier and get a bet­ter end re­sult?

If pho­tog­ra­phers are han­dling the brief­ing stage, it’s vi­tal [that] they get all the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion from the client as quickly as pos­si­ble. What’s the dead­line? What’s the us­age? How many tal­ent? What are their lo­ca­tion re­quire­ments? That sort of thing. I need to know all the nuts and bolts so I can start putting things to­gether. Us­ing some form of check­list or email tem­plate to help you gather in­for­ma­tion can make this task a lot eas­ier.

Over the years, you’ve worked with a lot of very suc­cess­ful pho­tog­ra­phers — are there at­tributes or qual­i­ties that they have in com­mon?

They all work ex­tremely hard — they’re worka­holics, ba­si­cally. They all do a lot of their own, self-funded per­sonal work. They have tenac­ity. And they have gift of the gab — they are great com­mu­ni­ca­tors, vis­ually and orally. They’re just cool to be around and can work with any­one and ev­ery­one on set to get a great shot — whether it’s a young kid, a make-up artist, an art direc­tor, or a celebrity.

To read more about the Briar’s ser­vices, head on­line to paceypro­duc­tion­com­pany.co.nz.

Mar­cel Pabst, marcel­pa­bst.se

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