Monday, April 13, 2009

The Future is Friendly

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
My name is Catherine Eve Patterson and I am the VP of digital production for McCann. We are a small, but growing guerrilla outfit in a large, monolithic agency endeavoring to do great digital work with our clients. In the last six months we have produced apps, sites, campaigns, animations, platforms, the works. I'm really proud of the progress we have made.

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 was born in San Francisco, moved to NYC when i was two months old, Vienna when I was two years old, and India at seven. That started me on a long road of trying to make sense out of various cultures with varying degrees of mayhem. It certainly introduced me to the concept of relative morality. I arrived at boarding school as an American teen who had never lived in America and got busy making and producing weird art of all kinds. This took me to NY, London, Paris, Nice, SF, Spain and Brooklyn. I worked as a producer, writer and developer in theater and independent film, migrated into gaming, then streaming video/mixed media/experiential stuff, always kinds of interested in the convergence of tech and art and the ways people used these elements to create community and narrative.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
It helps if you're an insatiable data junkie. I also recommend having smart creative geeky friends and colleagues who like to freak about cool new things and blog and spam the hell out of each other with inspirations of all kinds, especially unexpected ones. For team building, I regularly take my team out for cultural outings to see important art films like Quantum of Solace and Fast and Furious. We also go see Buckminster Fuller shows. We work around the clock more or less, often in multiple countries, projects and languages--so we relax as much as possible when the opportunity to do so arises.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
What's so cool about working with digital clients, where budgets are sometimes still quite lo-fi, is you all get to be brave and problem-solve in very creative ways. You really have to come up with some bootstrap solutions which can yield amazing results. An ideal client for us would be one who had a great brand and was open to and eager for the chance to develop a true digital platform around the work-this might take the shape of any media--broadcast work, video, experiential, apps, you name it. The idea is to find a way to translate a super cool idea across a bunch of existing and emerging media channels

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
Structure is our friend. We are big fans of the conservatory model of art school-you have to learn and understand and apply structure to be able to break it. We use it to define process, flow, deliverables, the works. This way we have a baseline to map back to if it all starts going horribly awry at any point. We also help clients get oriented in the digital market space by looking at what's out there with them, and trying to help with what we think a road to success might look like. Whether they take our advice or not is a different question. But all is love.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
Producing digital work for The Phoenix Mars Lander Mission with Principal Investigator Peter Smith from the University of Arizona, Jet Propulsion labs and NASA. Those guys really know how to produce some amazing s***.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
Depends on the scale-usually no fewer than 3, no more than 12 or so. From tiny tiny to very large, enterprise stuff, with a team of like-minded producers.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
Like the one I have, with a couple add-ons from old haunts. Smart, funny, fearless, unstoppable, patient and kind.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
We try to show them that we're in it for the long haul with them. Clients are understandably nervous making forays into new digital digital ventures, so we try to baby-step stuff as needed, always trying to work with them to produce best-of-class creative digital that has "legs", to use the old-school phrase. Stuff we can build on instead of throw away. It's been a pretty successful model thus far.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Some day people will create analog selves and doppelgangers to get away from the full transparency model we're headed into. Until then, as walls to media erode, and full transparency gains, it'll be the non-stop narrative we produce for. I am looking forward to producing work for smart fabrics, homes, digital bill boarding of all kinds, dirigibles, hand-held media, customized apps, robotics and digital assistants of all kinds.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.

The future is friendly.

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