Principles of Production

As the New Year gets off the ground, it’s time to codify some things that have been kicking around in my head for a bit. I’d love to hear some feedback from the net community about these, and hope they are a living document.

This is a set of principles that I commit to conduct my own business by; after years of being in places where people are not treated appropriately.

Production Principles

I believe that how you do business, is as important as how well you do business.

For that reason, I work hard to adhere to a basic set of principles in every aspect of what I do; because media production is an often difficult and messy process, and it doesn’t have to be.

  1. I believe everyone that contributes to the production should be respected.

    I commit to respecting our teams by being fair in our compensation, and in work schedules.

    I commit to respecting our teams by making sure that I have done as much creative preparation as possible, and clearly communicating the creative objectives to all team members in a timely manner.

    I commit to respecting our teams by giving our them the appropriate resources they need to execute a successful production.

  2. I believe that deals are made to stand by, not break.

    I commit to sticking to agreements made with vendors and freelancers.

    My word means a lot to me, I give it with full acknowledgment of the commitment I make, and expect members of the production team to deliver on their commitments as well.

  3. I believe in surrounding ourselves with people smarter than I am.

    I commit to hiring excellence. I recognize that production encompasses many specialized talents, and strive to hire individuals who know their specialties well, and have a work ethic that enables outstanding production.

  4. I pay production employees, vendors, and contractors on time.

    I believe that not only is this the right thing to do, it often results in directly lower costs of production.

  5. I believe in standing up for what’s right.

    I commit to zero tolerance of bullying, mistreating, and generally crapping upon of any of our production team members.

    If it’s a problem within any departments, or even with our executive team, we give our team members full permission to help us find constructive solutions.

I hope that 2010 gives us all more opportunities to do our work in ways that honor good principles of production.

On In House Production – Second Thoughts

Well, after the better part of a year producing in-house for Networks, I can confidently say, I was wrong.

Producing programming in-house does *not* save money for the Networks.
In fact, in my experience, it actually seems to increase the cost of the programming.
There are a number of reasons for the increase in cost, but in general they can be outlined as follows:
  • Legal inability to use the lowest-cost vendors; primarily driven by the insurance requirements of the Network. While this worked when out-of-house production companies were willing to assume risks; the Network isn’t willing to assume those risks, which results in vendors directly charging more than they would have to otherwise, because they must purchase special insurance policies to satisfy the Network. Direct Price Increase – 7-10%
  • Financial processes are so slow, that vendors working with the Network increase their pricing. Vendors know that the Networks are notoriously slow in paying their bills. In return for this reality, Networks get just about the worst deals on everything. You may get a good deal once or maybe twice, but after that, forgettaboutit.
These two primary facts of Network life, more than offset the cost savings of going out of house. The final nail in the coffin, at this time; is that Networks simply do not have the experienced people they need, internally, to make good production decisions. They just don’t.