Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lunch Time

Q: What is Lunch and what was your motivation for starting the company?
Being agency side for so long, most recently at TAXI and Grip, and through my colleagues in the industry it became glaringly apparent that there was a gap in the market in terms of clients and agencies knowing who they can call for what types of work.

I’ve been really lucky throughout my career that I’ve gotten to know a lot of incredibly talented people. I’d co-founded an industry event in Canada called Inter-action where we’d been sharing work and encouraging dialogue and collaboration. It was really a natural progression for me.

I absolutely love this business.

Digital production has been close to my heart for 12 years. I’ve tried to achieve a certain production value throughout the years with production partners and as a producer and executive producer and it really came together as the next logical step.

I’d been thinking about creating a different kind of model for a long time, and I started to talk to people about it and the feedback was solid. Lunch was born out of the idea that producing and creating great digital work should be as easy as one phone call. Lunch is a time where people meet, and talk.

I think clients look forward to their time at the agency and agencies look forward to lunch, whether it’s with production partners, directors, pre-pros, screenings, edits. Etc. It’s a fun time. I wanted something that captured that, and was approachable. All to often digital is scary. I think for me this is an effort to really pull back the curtain and make things easy for everyone, whether they come from the digital space or not.

Lunch is about ideas.

Lunch provides representation for artists, illustrators, directors, design and animation studios, audio houses, editorial talent, flash, web and application developers, production management and consulting as well as technical services. Not only are we there as reps, but we’re there to provide production services and manage the work if required. We can package a whole production from start to finish, or provide a la carte services.

It’s totally up to the client and the nature of the production. We’re setup to do absolutely anything whether digital or otherwise.

Q: How do you determine the best way to distribute projects across your network?
I’ve had the luxury of building some pretty incredible relationships with an amazing group of people so in that sense because of the number of productions we’ve been involved in together, we have a great sense of capabilities. I know what they’re great at, and I know where their interests lie. I always say, I wouldn’t necessarily want to work with someone I didn’t want to talk to on the phone.

So initially the starting line up is based on companies, I’ve really, really enjoyed working with. I’ve won Lions with some of them, Pencils with others, and we know how to work together. I’m excited to bring that to the table.

I love building teams.

It’s about the creative, what’s required, and who is best suited to doing that work. I’ve always looked at developers as directors, you want them to bring something to the table, a treatment, ideas etc. Projects will be paired with appropriate partners.

Sometimes partners will work together, yes, even competitors, or sometimes we’ll all have to talk, and sometimes it’s up to the client. It was important to me in building the network that we had a mix of the right people. People had to be willing to work in a different way.

I think that speaks to the interactive approach vs. traditional, we in the digital space are pretty accepting of sharing and collaborating. It’s how a lot of us got to where we are, we shared. Inter-action reminded me of that, pulling back the curtain on the smoke and mirrors that can exist in terms of the technology was important to me. It’s not about finding work for those she represents, it’s about finding the right work, where everyone makes a meaningful contribution in an open and honest atmosphere to create something amazing.

Q: What excites you most about this new model?
I think I’m most excited about the types of projects we’re seeing and having the opportunity to be on the same side of the fence as my partners. I’m really excited to help in bridging the gap between art and commerce.

There’s so much that can be done in so many different ways, looking at getting clients more educated and arming them with information is probably the most exciting for me.

I’ll also be holding workshops for producers who’d like to cross the floor into producing digital. That’s been one of my favorite things in the business is working with broadcast producers, traditional teams and print producers to get them up to speed on how we work.

The ability to work with some of my favorite artists is also a thrill, we’ve partnered with a gallery space and retail space in order for us to offer more variety and venues for immersive. Representation of artists like Kozyndan, TADO, Tara McPherson, and Junko Mizuno is absolutely surreal for me, these are artists I collect.

I’m thrilled to be able to bring them to a new audience. They were a key piece of the puzzle for me because they affect creative so greatly. Huge inspiration. To be honest, there isn’t a lot I’m not excited about right now. I’m looking forward to the years ahead. Lunch is about stripping away all the technical jargon that alienates so many clients and putting the right people together to create something amazing

Q: How are you going to manage work flow across multiple teams that have similar skill sets?
The model is really based around a central conduit, which in this case is me. It’s like intake. Projects come in, and obviously with all of the partners I work with, I have a sense of what their bandwidth is like, who needs what, who’s looking for what and who’s managing what.

The majority of them have in house producers and coordinating and working with them to assist in the execution of the work is critical. It’s certainly something I’ve had a lot of experience with, being a director of production agency side it was imperative that workflow was flawless across multiple partners. It’s all about communication. Lunch has a standard process, and structure that helps to standardize workflow, but it’s the same thing I’ve always said to my producers when I’m agency side – talk.

Q: Are you able to mix and match talents across the various teams based on individual skill sets?
Part of the beauty of lunch being a network is that the teams can work together. It provides an incredible capacity as well as a place to collaborate and work together. I pursued partners that were forward thinking, truly collaborative and ready for change.

I think that’s been the amazing thing so far is the partners getting to know each other and their excitement in being able to work together.

Again, I’ve had the luxury of knowing and working with them all, so I’ve always had ideas of who would get along with who and what might go with what in terms of service offerings. It’s amazing to watch it all come together and see them in a room together. I keep calling it the Voltron of production.

Lunch is really about stripping away all the technical jargon that alienates so many clients and putting the right people together to create something incredible.

Q: What does lunch look like 5 years from now?
I think the evolution of lunch will obviously mean expansion to different markets, with different partners, with more producers under the lunch umbrella, robots? :) It’s been so funny so far, it’s such an opinionated community (to which I am completely included).

Lunch is about keeping things simple and approachable. Easy. So I hope we’re still like that, but as I always say I’d like to finally be off of the computer by then and controlling everything with some kind of universal controller. It’s funny, I launched the lunch site last week (www.thisislunch.com) and some people got it, others commented on how “old school” it was.

It’s definitely a play on the average site of a development shop and the digital production world in generally. We never have time to build or own site because we’re too busy working on something great for someone else. So in that sense I hope all that’s the same in 5 years is the website.

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