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Where’s the industry’s global ambition?

Diversification is rampant, but the production industry is lacking potency, argues Rita El Hachem, executive producer at Joy Films Middle East

“You can boil the humble egg, fry it, poach it, scramble it, you can make an omelette out of it or make it rise into a magni-ficent soufflé. Same ingredients, just a different process, changing the chemistry.

The communication industry is changing all over the world and many are trying to predict what it is changing into. Digital, social, viral… the truth is that what is really changing is not the format. We are seeing the evolution of media com-panies from media buyers and planners to communication developers who really know where and how to deliver a message. So, no longer the sidekick of advertising agencies – they will gradually take over the industry and absorb it completely. A change from within. It may seem like a revolution but in reality it is a remix of the same ingredients, which changes the chemistry, transforming the media professional from a bean-counting nerd into a cool scientist with new toys and tools.

We are also seeing another global change shaping the way we work. Film directors being involved in creative development is picking up momentum, forging a new level of
collaboration and trust and giving a new definition to the term creative director. How long will it take for this to spread to the Middle East?

Unlike media, the film production industry does not have a voice (even globally) to be a driver of change of any sort, so it will just go with the flow. Some of the more progressive ad agencies in the region are already more receptive to this movement but it will be the media companies again who will capitalise and drive this, if not in 2012 then soon.

Everything around us has become multi-purpose. The phone is not just a phone. Even the fridge is a potential multimedia device and nothing is really impossible. Architecture has become sculpture, shopping is entertainment. But is it a dilution or lack of focus to be diverse? Not if all elements fit together. Think of the iPhone as the communication company and then each discipline being an app. All compatible. All talking and working with each other. You can’t fake its organic synergy with a lookalike touch screen. The pattern emerging seems to suggest that a platform that delivers efficiently and effectively, as well as allowing personalisation,  a multitude of applications and extensions, will become all the rage.  In production terms we are seeing this diversification.  Commercials, short films, long format, documentaries, TV idents, TV content, virals, online, as well as creative development. What is lacking is potency, the global ambition. These are the times when we all need to find clear personalities to differentiate. Think as a brand, but very few do.

We had predicated that 2011 would be a year of change, hope and optimism and a change from shallow gloss to more meaningful content in TV advertising and we saw many examples of this. Here are a few more predictions:

* Guerilla productions. Just do it – maverick films. Small creative, streetwise units who are fast and resourceful and unconventional in approach. Their no-nonsense style at the low end of budgets will make them very attractive and, importantly, they will have greater creative input and output.

* DIY films. An evolution of social media – where society is the medium.  The target audience creates its own content with the limited support of production. That’s like Coca-Cola or Pepsi encouraging youth to make their own films and create content with certain guidelines.

* Animated stills. Stop motion such as the work by BLU to RSA Animate presentation. Brilliantly entertaining and cost effective (if done well).

* Creating mini film festivals with glossy pretence. There are some around the world – one-second films, five- second films, mobile phone films etc. They are a great way to attract content and/or find new talent.

It will be great to see these enter the mainstream. It is not just the communication industry that is going through change, everything is changing. Science has become stranger than fiction, even the theory of relativity is being questioned. In fact, everything we’ve taken for granted to be true is changing or being challenged, from economics to politics and science. But that’s how we roll and evolve. The choice is to be the rising soufflé or as flat as a pancake.”

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