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Commercials 30 2012 Back to Reports & survey Listing

A snapshot of the feedback from producers about how the last year went and what will be the challenges in the year ahead

How was it for you?
“Unpredictable. The beginning of the year was incredibly busy followed by a quiet summer, due mostly to the Olympics. The autumn has been very active. Budgets are increasingly random and appear to have little or no relevance to the creative” Believe
“[Budgets] are starting to pick up, but we’re being asked to deliver the world on those budgets.” Biscuit
“This year has been consistent with the year previous. About the same amount of production, but a noticeable upswing in the fashion space.” Blink
“Busy, but as ever extremely competitive. Budgets squeezed often to unrealistic levels.” Epoch
“Boards quality has been refreshingly good with a distinct leaning towards comedy – a backlash against the dominant mood of recession perhaps.” Gorgeous
“Much better. Much steadier. More interesting. Good ideas and nice storytelling opportunities for the directors. We’ve had a huge boost with the Olympics and the Jubilee. Now what happens…?” Hotspur and Argyle
“More consistent this year. There have been only a couple of quiet patches and this was in relation to the Jubilee and Olympics.” Independent
“There has been a drop in the amount of animated TVCs this year, after a couple of ‘boom’ years it feels like the tide has turned slightly back to live-action.” Jelly
“Much improved. Very busy with board-flow from the UK, the US & Canada, Europe and South America.” Nexus
“It’s been very busy, but most clients with budgets seem to be very conservative and reluctant to do anything creatively risky. Nice Shirt
“We’ve had to pull rabbits out of hats at times to deliver the quality of work expected for ostensibly half of the funding.” Not to Scale
“It’s not been as tough as we might have thought considering the recession. The Olympics obviously generated its own financial landscape this year and we were privileged to be a part of that.” Picasso
“The squeeze in budgets is ever the challenge faced by our producers but there has been a really strong flow of work.” Pulse Films
“The effects of the Olympics and Jubilee have been felt with the first four months of the year being exceptionally busy before things slowed down considerably over the summer months.” Rattling Stick
“There are certainly more jobs with larger budgets than last year. Some clients have started to stick their neck out financially so others are following. Some of that could be a temporary blip as it’s been the Olympics, so it will be interesting to see how the next 12 months pans out.” Smuggler

challenges and concerns

Son of a pitch
The pitch process is a necessary evil for all production companies but it’s become particularly onerous, and expensive, over the last couple of years. “The pitches are getting fiercer. We often feel that the production is well underway before the bid is won,” says Blink. “‘Treatment inflation’ often sees the director taking the pitch into pre-production stages before a job is awarded,” says Rattling Stick. The time the process takes is also increasing, says Jelly: “The pitch process ... seems to be more painful than ever. We have had these stretch on for months.” And even then there’s the growing problem that the job turns out to have been Scotch mist. Says 2AM: “We’re not just talking about good old fashioned not winning the job here either but more increasingly because the jobs have just not gone ahead.” Either because the job was an agency initiative not signed off by the client, or the client doesn’t have the money, or the client just changes its mind. “Agencies are guilty of selling ideas the client can’t/won’t pay for,” says Rogue. And the pitch process is fast becoming unsustainable, says Aardman. “Agencies and clients must share in the risk of developing work.”

the madding crowd
Another challenge for production companies is an ever-crowded market place. “There’s an over supply of directors and production companies, some prepared to do almost anything for any budget just to have something decent on their reel,” says Nice Shirt Films. Too many producers and tightened budgets mean unsustainable undercutting is rife. Though, says Not to Scale, “Competition in the sector has reached its zenith. You’re now starting to see smaller shops closing and fewer start ups as saturation is reached and the desire of agencies to work with established companies with healthy balance sheets takes grip.”

Poundstretchers
“The UK industry seems to have shrinking budgets but expanding expectations in terms of production value,” says Knucklehead in a comment echoed by many. So the challenge is “managing creative ambition with financial constraints,” says Sonny London. And continuing to deliver “outstanding creative work with reduced budgets,” adds Independent. “A creative approach has to be applied to the production process itself in order to work within these constraints,” says Studio AKA.

We want it yesterday
Hand in hand with decreasing budgets comes the producers’ other bugbear, shrinking lead times, “a trend that seems to now be here to stay,” says Gorgeous. “It’s frustrating to find potentially outstanding scripts crippled at the first hurdle by insufficient lead times.”

shock of the new
“We need to ensure that we can continue to adapt to meet clients’ and agencies’ ever-changing communication needs,” says Rattling Stick. “Whatever the content required - from a two-minute brand film to digital content, supplier funded promos and television etc, we need to ensure we have the appropriate production approach and business model to support this.”

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