Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Reel Deal

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
Hello, my name is Niklas Lindstrom and I am the General Manager and Executive Producer at B-Reel New York. B-Reel is a Swedish based one-stop-shop, offering complete solutions to agencies with high digital standards, specializing in high-end web productions, film and animation. Today we are 40 people spread out in three offices in Stockholm, London and New York.

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?
Born and raised in a small town in the middle of Sweden. After high school I got the opportunity to start working at a local TV station where I learned the ins and outs of TV production. I went to University and got a Media Technology degree and got really hooked on this new phenomenon called multimedia fusing together everything I considered fun. Got a job as Project Manager at one of the first multimedia/Internet agencies in Sweden, Projector New Media. Stayed a couple of years, co-founded Leo Burnett Interactive in 1999 working as Account Director trying to contribute to shape a truly integrated advertising agency which was tough both internally and externally at that time. Was hired by B-Reel in 2004 to develop the Interactive production side and have had a great journey since then. Moved to New York in 2007 to start the US branch of B-Reel and it has been a great experience.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
Staying on top of new stuff and keeping ourselves informed is really at the core of B-Reel and actually a responsibility for our whole industry since we are in constant change. We all have our sources of information and different ways of tapping in to the constant stream of cool stuff that is out there and we all share the best bits internally. And for some reason we normally end up developing our projects using techniques and processes we have never done before, which is really motivating for the whole team and this keeps everyone engaged.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
Since we are a production company working primarily through advertising agencies we really like when the agency comes to us with a good and challenging brief and or idea and want to have a open collaboration on the project meaning that there is room to develop the ideas together.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
These days a lot of the agencies we work with have good knowledge of the overall mechanics of using Internet. In order to both educate and set expectations we work really hands on with prototyping and/or animatics to give everyone involved a good sense of what the final experience will be like. Because sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you talk, it all comes down to the actual visual experience. Along the way we keep a transparent and open process with our clients sharing our progress every step of the way. This is particularly important for us since we normally don’t meet and communicate with the end client.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
I think the Doritos campaign Hotel626(hotel626.com) is probably the best project I have worked on considering the production process and the result. A great collaboration with the agency even if it was the first time we worked together and a great client that really supported the idea of creating something that should be really frightening. We got the opportunity to create a total experience for the site visitors. Everything from the shoot at an abandoned asylum with old patients still living in the cellar to the actual site experience where we made the visitors use all aspects of their computers, microphone and camera, real-time telephone interactivity and develop a 360 degree 3D technique for Flash never used before.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
Normally we have 5-6 major projects spinning at all three offices, I can manage one or two major ones depending on size and complexity, to my help I have great Project Managers that handle most of the day to day communication with the client and the production details. I also need to look a few steps further and take care of new business requests that we handle in parallel to the actual projects.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
Since we are pretty much full-service doing everything from shoots, postproduction to the actual development I think it is important that different skills work close together to take every production to the next level. So when I gather a team consisting of a Project Manager, Art Director, Creative Director, Director, Lead Motion Designer and a Technologist we can accomplish great things together.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
By asking more questions. If we can get a better understanding of the creative strategy and the reasons why we can do a better delivery. We strive to always add something extra to deliver something that is beyond the clients’ expectations.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Two things; first it is a bit fuzzy when it comes to if you are an agency or a production company/studio in our industry. Right now we have a mashup of digital and traditional agencies since the lack of interest for Interactive from traditional agencies made it possible for new digital agencies to grow their business with direct clients. The next phase will be agencies that can handle their clients and brands with a holistic approach not limited to channel.
And second, today we access Internet content from a broad range of platforms, devices and situations. In order for a brand to stay relevant it needs to analyze the consumer behavior and needs to see where the digital touching points are with the brand. By doing that it will be easier to decide the optimal digital mix and get better leverage in their digital efforts.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Always stay positive and humble toward your team and your clients.
You can get so much more done with a smile.
And last, do not kick the butt you eventually might have to lick.

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