Monday, January 5, 2009

Team Captain

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
My name is Shawn Clarke and I've been a Senior Producer at Domani Studios for 2 years. We're a nimble, small interactive advertising agency. We concept, design, build and maintain data-driven Flash websites, large CMS-driven websites, iphone, AIR and other Internet-based software applications. Prior to DS I managed the fashion and international sites for Polo Ralph Lauren.

Q: Interactive Producers come from all walks of life, they are a hybrid of talents, tell us about your background and how you got interested in digital production?
I grew up loving anything with buttons and lights. I played organ and
piano, and got my first synthesizer in 8th grade. In high school and
college I did some music production on Macs, and then after trying to
be a professional musician, I did some office work to pay the bills.
It was 1996, and I was sitting at a desk with a modem and an AOL
account. I took to it, and within a couple months I was writing HTML
and setting up email accounts and websites for some friends.
Eventually I got a full-time position in IT, which morphed into web
development and then production. It's been 10 years now and it's still
a lot of fun.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
We have a remarkable all-office email thread at Domani Studios.
Everyone contributes and it helps me separate the news from the noise.
Beyond that, I read constantly, especially online. I have RSS readers
on my computer and my phone. My current favorites are paidcontent
[], Doc Searls [],
Alistapart [], and thumbjockey [].

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
I'm generally excited about music-related work. I love the work NPR is
doing to introduce artists to new audiences. Sites like IndabaMusic
and eJamming are changing the way musicians work.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
I learn what the client's expertise is and relate our expertise to
that. I lightly introduce the the triple-constraint of speed, quality
and cost, which many clients deal with in their own businesses.
Sometimes analogies help. Sometimes you have to have a difficult
conversation, and I've learned it's best to have that conversation
early on in your relationship.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
I don't know, how does anyone define the best? The best team I ever
worked with was on a Starbucks holiday project. It was probably the
most difficult project I've worked on, which is why the team shines
in my memory.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
I can tell you I once had eight separate projects, and it was like
spinning plates - nothing got enough attention, only enough to keep it
spinning. Eventually, a plate is going to fall and break. You spend a
lot of time determining which one will make the smallest mess when it

Q: What does your dream production team look like?

I don't really have a "dream" production team. I try to foster an
environment where each member is respected for their knowledge and
experience, willing to try things and admit when they don't know
something. When we're honest and constantly learning, it makes for
good work and a great work experience.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
It's important to remember the original project goals. I keep the
simple questions at hand - what are we doing and why? What does
success look like? Sometimes the answers change. As long as you're
constantly asking the questions, you'll be alright.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
As a Cubs fan and web producer, I've learned not to make predictions.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Being a producer means it's never about you - it's the client or it's
the team or it's the project. Slip in a thought, idea or method when
no one is looking, then make it someone else's idea. When things go
well, praise your team. When things go bad, take the blame. A good
team is worth one hundred good clients.

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