Thursday, May 14, 2009

Northern Tribe

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
My name is Pat Elia. I'm a producer at Tribal DDB in Toronto. I'm in my third year at Tribal and 6th year working in the interactive world.

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 went to university for history with the plan of becoming a teacher. But after I got my degree I was already weary of the subject and couldn't see myself teaching it for the rest of my life. So I then went on to pursue a post-grad in technology and interactive production because I thought it was the exact opposite of history, as it represented the future. Pretty deep. I know.

I literally started working the day after I finished my post-grad. I landed at a small online marketing company where I was responsible for managing dozens of monthly contests for Conde Nast publications. It was a great place to cut my teeth and I met a lot of good people. I then moved on to another small place where I did a bit of everything - microsites, email, and some heavier backend jobs. Then one day Tribal called, and here we are.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
I've always been a bit of a nerd - in the sixth grade I dressed up as DATA from Star Trek for Halloween. There. That's now on the internet.

So naturally, technology is one of my main interests. I prefer to get my information from a few trusted sources rather than scan hundreds of potentially garbage RSS feeds. DIGG, Slashdot, and Techcrunch are some of my favourite sites. And even though the last few issues have been pretty weak, Wired magazine is still my go-to.

In regards to keeping the team informed, I like twitter as a means for sharing links. We Tribal-ites are also big fans of the old fashioned sending-links-through-email. It's tried and true and won't fade away like the next social networking fad.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
Clear brief. Enough time and money to do what’s required. Quick approvals. Clean launch.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
I think the most important part is to first get a grasp of their knowledge and comfort level with interactive. Making assumptions at this stage can really bite you in the ass later. Unfortunately, I've learned this from experience. One of the things I try to do now is to physically get a signature before each phase of a project is completed to make sure everything is clear. I find when people are asked to sign their name on something they take more time to understand the situation and ask any questions.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
That depends how you define best. For me that means enjoyable, and my most enjoyable job was We had 3 custom miniature sets built and populated them with miniature scale models. We then locked ourselves up in a studio for three days shooting every little piece from every possible angle. To save on catering costs, one of my duties as a producer on this gig was to make sandwiches for the crew. We also produced the sound effects ourselves, which was a good time. The burping zombie sounds are courtesy of yours truly.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
1 large, 2 medium, and unlimited small.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
I like the following:

- a creative team that values function as much as aesthetic

- a dev team that can give good input toward the design and also produce clean code

- bonus points if everyone plays nice

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
I try to work closely with the account team to keep me in check, as my first instinct is to protect the agency's best interests (usually budget related). But when it comes to creative or tech concerns, I try to look at things objectively to assess their value. I also imagine the budget as if it were my own money to make sure it gets spent properly.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
You remember that movie Tron? It'll look like that, but with more widgets.

But seriously, I think the next big thing will be touch screen applications. We've seen how big of a hit it is with simple iPhone apps. With full size screens and beefy processors, the possibilities will be endless.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Making websites should be fun. If you're not having fun then something is probably wrong.


  1. oh hai pat!

    i agree on the touch screens.. or some variation of that.

  2. thanks, trish!

    but does that mean you disagree with everything else? ;)