Creative Empowerment and Sustainability

10:00am in Studio A

In this session, panelists will look at the many challenges facing our work culture. How do we create space in a production calendar for our teams to enjoy their creative exploration. How do we give ourselves time for artistic discovery and evolved workflows without crossing the boundary into the unsustainable practice of constant change and impossible hours?

Our creative video community is unique in our ability to wear all the hats when we see a project to completion. We work at the bleeding edge of technology, inventing solutions and skating the edge of risk. And we love it that way.

However, we set the stage for expectation that we can make the impossible possible. We support the assumption that we are fast and resilient to change, and thus create the pathway for speed and variation to be the norm. It’s not sustainable and it’s also an incredibly valuable asset. Can we make it different?

Join us as we chat about new ways to think about our teams, our practice and our work/life balance for our sustainable future.

Download Transcript

Laura Frank  00:13

Good morning. So ladies and gentlemen, everyone, this is Ryan McAllister from Lightborne joining me for a session on creative empowerment and sustainability. If we can go to our deck please. Thank you. So why don’t you take a minute and introduce yourself?

Ryan McAllister  00:44

Everybody, thank you for having me here. It’s a, it’s an honor to be here. My name is Ryan McAlister, I’m a creative director at a motion graphics studio production studio based in Cincinnati, Ohio called Lightborne. Sort of my quick My background is I started in this industry about 16 years ago, as a designer and animator, I was a senior designer and animator for about almost 10 years and then became a creative director. And my main focus has been doing live events. And that sort of, kind of, to what JT and Laura were talking about earlier. It’s the way that I think about it is what I do is create Content for whatever surface you want to throw at me. And sometimes it’s not even an actual surface. So it can be a virtual surface. But mostly, my focus has been doing sort of like tours, live events, TV shows, stream Content for broadcast productions, and things like that.

Laura Frank  01:41

Here’s an example of some of that work.

Ryan McAllister  01:44

Yeah. So you know, the stuff that we’re all familiar with the grind of what we do is kind of what we’re going to talk about this morning.

Laura Frank  01:52

Yeah, I looked at all these photos and a bit of the lightboard reel. And my first question was, how much sleep did you get?

Ryan McAllister  02:03

None, because I’m a goblin person that thrives in the darkness.

Laura Frank  02:09

So I want to start a discussion with this basic idea. Moving from lighting into video, two things happened, I suddenly was known by every producer in the room as a lighting person, I could stay pretty invisible. But as soon as I was on the video controls, everyone had an opinion. And they found someone to tell them where the controls were. And suddenly, I was talking to people and trying to field all their changes. So with that, I also realized I was staying up a lot more hours overnight, because as a lighting person, I can only work in the room. Video goes with me on my laptop, and all the hours exist for corrections to be made and work to be done. How did that happen?

Ryan McAllister  02:52

Yeah. I mean, man, the question that haunts me. And I think I mean, there are practical reasons, like you just said, like we were especially if you’re working on like a show, you will only have time during the night to like, you know, your with our with the LD, and you have to figure this stuff out on the product that you’re working with. Overnight to make sure that it looks as good as it possibly can. And yeah, but I think from a more like, existential, I guess, place people, we, I’ve noticed that we can back ourselves into a situation where magic happens overnight, and all of a sudden, people come back in the next day, and they’re like, Oh, you’ve solved you miraculously solved my problem. But they don’t acknowledge the miraculous side of it. They just acknowledge the you solve my problem overnight side, and I have enough, you know, a combination of caffeine and whatever other substances to keep me upright to celebrate that victory with those people. But I think you know, it. The the question that lies underneath the question, right is like, yeah. Why? Why do people think that we can just magically hit press a button. And, you know, there’s the I, I’m sure that everybody in this room from both the Technology side and the creative side has been in a situation where the non creative or technical person is wondering why you can’t just make the thing that they want you to make. Why can’t you just do you already did 19 Other versions of it? Why can’t you just do the 20th one right now? And of course, we’re all as an industry, figuring out how to do that in a more competent way. But is that really a practical or like, reasonable position to be put into, I guess, is the question,

Laura Frank  04:46

right, it’s and then we make a point about this later. The magic of it, I think, eliminates learning opportunities because the labor doesn’t involve a physical event. So one thing I would often do with producers, especially when I was negotiating a budget, is remind them. If I gave you wood hammer and nails, you could build me a table. If I gave you a computer, could you build me the same table in 3d? Because, you know, there’s something relational that has to be tangible for the people we’re engaging with, so that they understand that it is labor.

Ryan McAllister  05:23

Yeah, and I think that that’s like our that goes back to some kind of like deep evolutionary issue that I don’t know that we’re gonna solve today about how the intangible nature of like design and art specifically, and then even more, so like the Technology side of things, that that it doesn’t, like you said, if you put hammer and nails and wood in a pile, like a pallet of wood in front of somebody, their brain can like, see it and say, okay, but if I, you know, if I’m like, This is gonna take, like, I still have to build the thing in 3d or whatever. For some reason, that reasonable part of their brain shuts down and they’re like, okay, but yeah, isn’t Are you just like sitting there pressing buttons. So

Laura Frank  06:04

and it’s a good analogy can use quite well, right, because there’s also a difference in the table you bought from Ikea, and the table you bought from a fine furniture maker,

Ryan McAllister  06:13

it’s good point.

Laura Frank  06:14

So we can talk about the same things, because we’ve all been in situation where something’s described to us that we need, and we either can go to a stock site, or now plug into mid journey and get most of the way there. But we also want to be able to have those conversations about the craft of making excellent pixels. And there’s a time you want to go to a fine furniture maker.


And then the rest of the time we just do this,

Ryan McAllister  06:41

right? No, this chart,

Laura Frank  06:46

I think we I think we tend to try and be the unicorn quite too often, which is why we get devalued,

Ryan McAllister  06:53

always. And that’s I mean, in you and I have talked about this previously, like there’s a there’s a certain level of like, addiction to pain, like, I think everybody in this room probably suffers from this on some level, I know that I’m like, severely saddled with the desire to over deliver no matter what I do. Because I can’t sleep. I’m not sleeping anyway. But if I was, I wouldn’t be able to sleep if it wasn’t like the coolest or best possible solution to the thing that I was thinking of, and the producers that I work with, and the money people. They’re endlessly barking at me to like figure this problem out. So I think that yeah, but I think that there’s like a thing about wanting to the problem, I guess, that this discussion is trying to get at is like, how do we solve like, what is the sustainable way to go about that? Because there’s, I don’t know that I’m going to without, you know, like 1000s of dollars and hours of therapy, figure out how to like, stop my need to make excellent thing. So I think it turns into more of a how do we communicate with our clients about what they’re actually getting from us and why it is what it takes to achieve a certain level of excellence.

Laura Frank  08:13

Moving on with these thoughts, wrong place. Something that comes up against as a leader of a team, and we already have this perspective, that we want to do our best work. And sometimes that best work happens in late hours in those brainstorm moments when a light bulb goes off, come coming up working crews in New York City working around unions a lot. I’m in local one myself, I was really grateful for the idea got very expensive to work between midnight and eight in the morning. That doesn’t always exist for us there. So there isn’t that boundary. So I started to see as in the video world, there were wonderful things that could happen when you immerse yourself and the challenge, and just let it wash over and take over your mind all the hours. So I want to have that work ethic. And I want to encourage others to have that work ethic. But then we misrepresent ourselves to our clients. Right? So we need to somehow have some boundaries about what reasonable hours really look like.

Ryan McAllister  09:22

Yeah, yeah, I mean, it. So the way that I tried to think about it, and in my situation is unique, because I’m like in the middle. Well, our studio is in Cincinnati, Ohio. So the kind of people that work with us. They’re extremely talented, but they tend to be the people that like came out here or went to New York and worked for a few years and they were like, I want to own a house. I want to start a family. So I’m balancing people that are like me and are addicted to doing good work, but also like have other priorities in their lives as well. And I think that there’s to sort of like drill down on this The way that I think about it is applying because I’m a designer by trade like that’s like my the end, I got into animation. And I think like applying a certain level of design thinking to our creative work, because you’re right, there’s like, I tend to rely on like the magic that happens where or like inspiration, right, there’s a difference between having a very high quality product and like an inspired piece of Content at the end of the day. And most people don’t like that, they will feel something if they see the inspired piece of Content, but they will also be very happy with the high quality designed piece of Content. And what I mean by that is like, when you when you use the principles of design, you’re developing a skill set, kind of like a carpenter, where you know that there are, I don’t want to use the word tricks or gags, but like there are systems, there are techniques that are always going to reliably work to create something within a reasonable amount of time. And you’re not sitting there sort of like beating your head against the desk, trying to like wait for inspiration to hit you. So a thing that we do like that I tried to do and encourage my guys and ladies at Lightboard to do is to have be very flexible in the way that they work because we do work in a deadline based industry where that’s not going to change. So there is crunch time is inevitable. But taking the time to explore and play and be in sort of like absorb what is going on around you. And let that sort of feed the subconscious creative, but also always be honing the knife of design, or what technique I guess is a better word to use. So that when because you can’t rely on inspiration all the time, like sometimes you just have to get the thing done. And if you have honed that knife, you can still cut something that looks pretty awesome. But it might not be like the most inspired solution that you’ve ever come up with. And I think that that’s like,

Laura Frank  11:57

that’s like the 8020 rule 20% of the effort gets you 80% of the way, when you have an established workflow and a process that you can support, you can get close to say a request or a design challenge with pretty low effort.

Ryan McAllister  12:11


Laura Frank  12:11

it’s that last 20% that takes 80% of your effort.

Ryan McAllister  12:14

And that’s it. I think so it’s interesting, because I’d be curious to hear what you think about this. Like, I think that that translates really well among creative or you know, people in this industry when we’re talking to our own teams, but the magic trick is like how do you communicate that to an end client? Yeah, like, here’s what you’re gonna look at. I’m going to show you in progress stuff that I that has been made at a reasonable clip, and but it’s not going to maybe like it might not translate cleanly to what they’re thinking that they’re about to see.

Laura Frank  12:43

Yeah. But to bring us around more to this idea about the reasonable hours and our work culture. I also want to look at this question. We’d love that feeling when we can meet the client demand, right? Or pull them the magic rabbit out of the hat and save the day. That creates a culture that celebrates this heroic effort and causes us problems later, because of unreasonable expectations. Yeah. How do you handle that with your team?

Ryan McAllister  13:14

Well, so it’s hard, it is difficult. I mean, what we’ve been trying to do recently, is, have every like we don’t have, we try not to have specialists anymore, or people because that’s I feel like that’s a good way to get certain individuals locked into being those heroic people that save the day constantly, and they’d never sleep, you know. And again, this is all caveat by the fact that there are some of us out there that have a thing in our brain that’s wired to just love this, these challenges. But I think in order for things to be healthy, what I’m trying to do is like cycle people in and out of projects, or design setup our internal way we approach projects so that I can move almost like shifts of people through things or spread, not have stuff be so siloed into individual camps and have the you know, have a constant sense of communication. I mean, one of the cool things about working in a studio, where we have like 10 full time animators is that everybody is always communicating and feeding off of each other and leaning on each other. And I think that that can be also applied to like when we bring in freelancers and people that other teams we’re working with, because I don’t know that. That yeah, this is not a sustainable model. So we’re all I have, I don’t claim to have figured it out, but I’m moving towards trying to with a few different experiments, I guess.

Laura Frank  14:50

This issue we’re talking about is pervasive across all digital, creative and digital labor communities. There are memes like this all over the internet, pretty easy to find. That’s, I think, my favorite in the upper right. I’m sure we’ve all felt like that. I’m also pretty fond of this, you know, six window meme on the bottom, especially anything related to 3d modeling, Content creation, all of them and with somebody’s face down or hand punching through a computer. But I think we also really liked this challenge in this fight. We’re tuned for it, we just need to find a good way to have relationship with employment around it.

Ryan McAllister  15:37

Yeah, it’s interesting, because you don’t want to like, it’s hard to be in a situation where you like, for me, I keep thinking, I’m going to, I’m going to educate this client, this new client, yeah, I’m going to teach them how this process works. And it that is such a fine line to walk into not come off sounding either arrogant, or like your professor trying to like, you know, because these people are also very smart. And they know what they’re doing. They just, there’s this this nut that we need to crack of, like, how do we convince them that like, the effort that like the amount of effort that is going into this stuff? And I think it’s it depends on who you’re working for, to write, like, I’ve had many clients, and like show directors and people that do understand how much work goes into it doesn’t change the fact that, you know, inevitably, something like this will happen. And you’ll be slamming your head against the desk trying to get the thing done. But I think yeah, like, we’re talking about how, like cultivating a daily sort of like, environment where it can accommodate for those moments, those pinch moments. Yeah, right.

Laura Frank  16:44

Yeah. Which begs the question, can project based work ever be done with sensible hours? And I think this is a meme we’re all really familiar with to that point.

Ryan McAllister  16:57

Yeah. I mean, so. And I’m curious, I’d be curious to talk to other people in this room after this about like, what their thoughts on this are because I’m, I’m trying to figure this out. I know what it’s like to be in the chair making the thing and I know what it’s like being the one who’s talking to the client explaining the thing that has been made. And this man, this is like the model that if I was a guy by myself, this this meme is, this is how I would work probably like, it’s not great. It because I thrive on being in like a foxhole and under siege. But that’s where it goes back to this, like I’ve been thinking about like, Okay, if you apply, I think there’s like a mis attributed quote to I don’t think it was Ernest Hemingway who said this, but there’s something along the lines of like, write drunk, edit sober. And I think that like, there’s like the passion side of it, it goes back to like, relying on heroic deeds of magic, that if you are, if you can get rid of this big red section on this chart, and actually be like incrementally, like just working, chiseling away at the problem, you it sets you way up way better to in that zero hour be able to like then try to apply some sort of magic to it and finish it off. But that, that, and it also helps every other member of the team that you’re working with that not just your studio, all the other teams like, you know, there’s been so many projects that I’ve worked on that like at the last minute, there were like delivering stuff, and the lighting designer hasn’t had a chance to previous with any of the Content that we’ve made. Or we’re, you know, waiting around, and we get a bunch of changes the last minute because the LD and the creative director of the show have been in the bunker together doing their own thing and haven’t been communicating with us. So in. And I’m curious what you think about this, I think a lot of this stuff can be solved with just like, not brutal, but like honest communication amongst all the players on a project.

Laura Frank  19:00

Well, he made a really good point about like, if this was your individual work, yeah, you can do this creative process. It’s fine. You can put yourself through that. And I think, did you go through a theater program in school of any kind? Or did you

Ryan McAllister  19:13

not not like in college, I was definitely a theater kid like in high school.

Laura Frank  19:17

So there’s something about the theatrical education that I think doesn’t always occur in like if you’re going through an animation program or design program, which is this collaborative, creative work. So I think it’s a really important point for all of us to consider, like I did theater through college. Everybody is working toward the same goal for an 8pm on a Thursday night. And that collaboration just gets instilled in your system, you are thinking 12 steps ahead. You are looking at your teammates at where they’re lagging behind or ahead and supporting each other. And it becomes this non verbal process of Reaching a shared creative goal. Now you have a clear plan, you have a script, you have rehearsal process, you have a lot of tools that we don’t necessarily get in our work environment, including even today, you know that this room is busy, we only have so much time to prepare an event like this. So we try and create structure. And with structure, I really like having a clear outline of an approach. Because I know when shit goes sideways, there was an intent. And so you can respond to change, because there is a way to say, My course is over here, I just need to follow this new path that just evolved. But course correct to get back on this trajectory, there is an end goal, if it’s on a piece of paper, if it’s, you know, through leadership, the screens producer role, any kind of video leadership, we are in a collaborative creative endeavor, working with people who may not necessarily come from that school of thought about this work. Yeah, I know, for me to motivate, creating my version of the screens producer role was to try and build better communication practice across all the different disciplines that consider themselves, the video department that maybe aren’t even really communicating with each other. Well,

Ryan McAllister  21:24

yeah. Yeah, I mean, there’s like a lot of creative opportunities that get like, left on the table, because you’re not communicating clearly, like there’s endless shows that I’ve worked on that you you see the show, when it’s actually up and running. And all you see are the missed opportunities, that wouldn’t have been like an Herculean effort to get together and pull it off. It’s just that everybody silos apart and it isn’t communicating correctly. And I love I love the analogy of a script, because that’s sort of another thing that we’ve been trying to do more in our studio is like, have a clear, I mean, part of it is like a cover your ass kind of thing, like have a clear calendar and like list of deliverables going into a project, knowing that it’s gonna get blown out of the water within like, a few days. But like, at least, that document exists out there. And it’s valuable document, like you were saying, but it helps. It’s like a scaffolding that everybody can kind of like Head Start dressing the entire project on it, even though the scaffolding is is parametric, yeah, it will change. Its scalable, but it can elite, we can all be on the same page. And that’s kind of like goes into that sort of like the educating the client side of things, I think there’s a little bit of the people in the room that are creatives are probably familiar with doing what I would refer to as creative jujitsu with clients and trying to convince them that an idea that you had is actually an idea they had, or if they have a bad idea, you turn it into a good idea, but let them let their ego walk away and bruised. And I think that there’s there’s also sort of like a practical version of that on these projects where we can not not come off as preachy, or something like that, but like, still, God provide a framework for how a project is gonna go down. And it might appeal to a client that thinks about things more in terms of like spreadsheets and money, for example. Not just occurred to me a thought, or maybe a union. Sure. Yeah, it’s interesting, right? Well, you know, you mentioned that you’ve been, you’re a part of your union, you’ve been part of unions. And I’ve had interesting experiences, right? Because I’ve been in like that zero hour, need to get a thing done. And then the venue I’m in shuts down, and I’m like, somebody might as well kill me right now. Like, I can’t believe that I’m, I’m the one who’s stuck holding the bag here. And it’d be great. If I could also just shut it down and not have that like level of anxiety that I’m going to take with me, or like, pack my entire onsite crew up and go to like, some van or some hotel room to try and keep working because things shut down. And, and I think what’s great, you know, it’s interesting, it might not be the perfect solution to and I’m curious to see what you think about this, but like some kind of like, what is what would be interesting about it is the collective sort of bargaining or getting everybody on a uniform set of sort of like theories and ideas and, like, approaches to how we conduct ourselves in these shows and on these projects.

Laura Frank  24:49

It’s a it’s a tricky one to think about, please excuse my Google Drive, which is misbehaving. Good, okay. Um, It’s something I think about a lot, because I want to understand the best way we can do the best of what we do and have those creative, Immersive moments, whatever time of the day they occur. But I can also clearly describe the number of times I’ve been pulled away from that gut wrenching moment of trying to solve a problem. Because the room has to go dark, because of the unions that are there. Not my union, necessarily, but and going away and sleeping and walking to work the next day with the absolute perfect solution. Yeah, that might have taken two or three hours in that exhausted state had I pushed myself through the night before. It’s it’s so hard to walk away when you’re like, pencils down when when it’s time to stop. But rest is so critical to what we do as well.

Ryan McAllister  25:57

Yeah. And I think that that’s like, there’s a lot of science that backs that up. In that, I mean, like, I think a lot of people in this room probably have anecdotally, like, Were you the one time that you don’t listen to a podcast, when you’re in the shower or something when you’re working on a project. And it’s just you’re sitting there in the quiet moment. And the solution sort of like locks in place, the Rubik’s Cube makes sense is all one color on all sides. And I totally agree and having and again, I keep using my, I’ll use myself as an example, I need, I would benefit from somebody enforcing that on me as because I, you know, it’s really easy for me to do it for other people to to make sure that other people are handling it and but then like, How can I expect to have ever, you know, and then the other thing that could potentially be a benefit of a union, as I’m thinking about it right now, or some kind of consortium or something would be the, the looming subtext of all of this, which is somebody’s just gonna swoop in and do this job, if I tried to mandate some reasonable, like accountability from my client, is somebody who doesn’t demand that just gonna, like slide in there and do this nowhere near as well as I would do it or you would do it, but for the amount of money that they’re asking for in the amount of time that they’re asking for.

Laura Frank  27:21

And there’s some protects. So the risk of doing this well, with best practices for the team members that we care for, right? Is pricing ourselves out of work?

Ryan McAllister  27:34

In some cases, yeah. And maybe this if there was sort of like a collective sort of set of rules, you know, because I’m not I don’t claim to be an expert on this stuff at all. But it seems the way that that stuff works is that that they you can’t scab in on those kinds of things, or you are ostracized or the client gets ostracized. And maybe that maybe we need somebody to impose this sort of that kind of scaffolding on us.

Laura Frank  28:04

Yeah. You drop this into the I don’t know why this made me think we need Union. But I know this kind of stuff, burns hours. That could be more effectively spent. But we move on, I do want to get some time for questions in the room. Let’s focus on this question to wrap up, because I think this is where we’re headed. How do we align as a community? And we could talk about framework a little bit, but how do we align as a community on sustainable work practice? You bring up a really good point? Is it client side driven? Is it community driven when it comes down to agreeing to what those best work practices are? And who was going to be responsible for maintaining them in production?

Ryan McAllister  28:52

Yeah. And, you know, I think the hope is that, like, I gotta think that most most of our clients want something that is amazing. And they’ve, you know, we’ve sort of gotten them used to the fact that we can do that, in May, perhaps, is somewhat unsustainable way. So I think that like, you know, I’ve been in this industry long enough that I’ve seen the pendulum swing a few different ways where they’re like, you know, what, I’m sick of paying for this stuff. And you have a whole season full of like garbage Content out there, and then it swings back, and everybody’s like, I’m sorry, let’s do this the right way. And if we can kind of like, you know, attenuate that and get some kind of, like, put some rails on the way that we approach this stuff collectively. I don’t claim to know what the answer to that is. But I would love to have, I’d love to have an in depth conversation, perhaps with some mezcal or scotch with any of you about how we can figure this out. For you later today. Yeah, sure. Okay, it’s still maybe it’s, um, it’s later In my mind, because I’m from the East Coast, so. But yeah, I’m curious, what were your thoughts on this? as well?

Laura Frank  30:08

Um, well, I had this kind of addendum slide that went with it, because I think this is where I struggle. It’s, I want, I want to create this alignment, it’s part of the motivation for framework to assist that to exist is to assist us in coming up with this alignment and what we want our best practices to be around work. Can we achieve that in a collegial, collaborative production environment? That that’s where I get stuck. Sometimes it’s, it’s, I mean, obviously, we do it there. I’ve worked on Broadway, you have a schedule, you have a structure, if you have a pile of money, you can change that schedule, as many times as you want. But there’s something about the pressure cooker, I think we thrive in the people who come into this work who grow up in that pressure cooker, and it feeds their ability to achieve. Yeah. These are the harder and more nuanced conversations of our community culture, and, and what direction we can propel the community into for our best health. Yeah. I don’t have the answer.

Ryan McAllister  31:21

Do any of you have the answer?

Laura Frank  31:25

But I’m excited to try. And I’m going to bias back a little bit of time for starting late. And I would love to open the room to questions and understand how people feel about these issues. So we’re going to have a couple of PAs in the room with mics. And if you’re watching online, and you want to post questions in chat, we want to continue this discussion with you.

Ryan McAllister  31:51

There’s a hand

Soren West  31:57

Hi, I’m Soren. And I have many opinions on all these topics, which I won’t get into. But I do want to thank you for talking it out. And I would encourage framework as an organization, and as a community to keep asking these questions and keep pushing on this topic, because it’s, it’s a real problem. Part of it is because we’re human, and that part won’t go away. But I think it’s a really, really important topic. So thank you for bringing it up.

Ryan McAllister  32:35

Yeah, absolutely.

Laura Frank  32:39

Soren West, one of our framework founders, by the way. Thank you.

Ryan McAllister  32:47

There’s another hand.

Chet Miller  32:50

Hi, I’m Chet. So in your own work, one of the things I cut my teeth, mostly in theater when I was growing up, because I’m totally done growing up now and totally an adult. So the feeder 10, out of 12 schedule, one of the things that is kind of a dirty unspoken rule for a lot of us is you don’t make decisions after the evening break. Because that, at that point, you’re too tired, you’ve been there in the room for too long, and a choice you make is going to be a mistake, you’ll spend more time undoing it throughout the rest of the next morning. Is that something that you’ve also come across in your work?

Ryan McAllister  33:33

Do you want to answer that first?

Laura Frank  33:35

I’m chewing on it a little bit. So let me let me follow that up just to understand. So no big changes. You’re saying in the evening or after a break

Chet Miller 33:46

after the last break in the evenings. You’ve done your dinner break. You’re basically at the last 15 minute until you’re in the last like 90 minutes or so of the session day. A lot of us make the conscious choice not to try and make a big decision because that decision is probably wrong. It’s more of a

Laura Frank  34:05

Brilliant. That’s absolutely brilliant.

Ryan McAllister  34:09

Yeah. I love that there’s what’s the there’s something about like, you want to hope that you don’t have like a traffic judge before they’ve eaten lunch or something like that. Like because they’re gonna be more angry with you for no reason.

Laura Frank  34:22

Well, I immediately thought of my husband who at some point in his career in a corporate job, they had a if you drink at lunch, don’t come back. It’s kind of the same thing because your brain late in the day. Let’s face it, not not too sharp.

Ryan McAllister  34:42

Yeah, I mean, that’s it. I think that like in the day to day practice of making things I think that’s a great axiom to apply to what we’re doing. The big question that I think we’re wrestling with is like in that 11th hour when you’re delivering the thing it It’s hard to, I think the trick is making, applying those rules, so that you have the bandwidth when you need it to actually, like dive in and accomplish the thing. And perhaps there’s even a way to do that, apply those rules to being in delivery of a project at a production rehearsal or something like that, and saying, Hey, I know that I’m gonna be here, grinding all night on and like executing, but I don’t want to have to be coming up with new ideas if I haven’t slept in 24 hours. So putting, like a creative sort of bulwark up against that is a really cool idea. I like that.

Laura Frank  35:40

Because I’m thinking about also what happens like for your team, you’re sent away with a list of changes that you’re working on overnight. There’s probably an operations team in a room somewhere queueing with the existing assets that might be wrong by morning. And where’s the communication kind of monitoring these change orders that came in late, that by morning, maybe your talent or your creative wakes up? And goes, That was a terrible idea? Or actually, I want to change it again, because that’s gonna happen, too. So some of those questions, I think are leading, ultimately, to the one challenge I see. Which is, we’d have to have a pathway for creative exploration. We have to have sensible work environments. Yes. Can we get a mic over here, please?

Ryan McAllister  36:29

He’s got one.

Laura Frank  36:30

Oh, he’s got it.

Pablo Molina 36:31

Hi, I’m Pablo. I don’t have any answers. But I do think that questions are really important. I wonder how much of this is up to the next generation. And how much of this is our responsibility now, as many of us mentors, educators, to help the next generation find that balance and those boundaries? Can tell you my strategy was to not fully give up on live production, but move more into permanent install, where you are beholden to general contractor schedule, and a whole set of other external factors that, that force that pacing? Right, and you can’t do the last night? All your work, right before the deadline kind of thing. But yeah, I think, you know, what I’ve noticed, particularly in my teaching role, but but also in sort of mentoring other younger people coming up as assistants or, you know, collaborators, is, I have a lot of faith in the next generation. I think that they’re, they have a better sense of themselves, and and its need for balance in their life. So I think, yeah. But we got to find them. And we got to bring them in. And we particularly gotta find more people of color. Because when I look at this room, I’m embarrassed. That’s a few thoughts.

Laura Frank  38:26

In the back.

Tony 38:34

Hi, my name is Tony. I’m a researcher, and I’m new to this field. But actually I concerned about we mentioned the labor but I tried to avoid this word, because sounds not good for me. I would tend to use workers instead, it sounds better. Actually, I have a question to ask compared with the traditional way of life event productions or even green screen production. Do we have more bargaining power? Can we, you know, sometimes, if the kind of as something is impossible to do, can we do something like, Hey, provide another solution or something like that? How do you see the highest ship of bargaining power in this field? Thank you.

Laura Frank  39:18

Yep, bargaining power is an interesting idea. Obviously, as a union member, I am beholden to a very large bargaining system that I in my roles tended to exist outside of, I was never working with IATSE for their minimum rates because I came to a production with a set of skills that I could earn more for honestly, but there was always that structure, that there was an entity making sure I had health insurance and retirement and vacation money being put away somewhere, even at the most minimum job in that environment. bargaining power for us, I think is tricky. Because I, what I say in production often is, we’re still learning how to communicate across these different silos of video, and people who do the different pieces of it. So we have work to do locally production to improve the communication, so that we can as an entity of like minded, skilled professionals, do the work of presenting ourselves under some kind of banner to say, these are our production practices, our labor practices aren’t learning practices.

Ryan McAllister  40:39

Yeah, I mean, there’s nothing I like I said, I don’t have a lot of experience being part of the Union, just working with them. And I think that like the collective sort of might have their best practices sort of sets a tone, I guess. And I think that there maybe is a way to do that without being a union, per se. But the trap, I think, that we fall into sometimes is we were also very good at finding solutions to problems, like that’s one of our, you know, secret sauces that we have at our disposal. So, if you need, you know, if you go into a project, you know, you have to have maximum editability, down to the last minute, you will figure out a way to solve that problem for you, we, you know, maybe to the detriment of ourselves. And I think that that’s, that’s the thing, that’s the seat like, you know, it shouldn’t be a, or that it’d be great if we could find a way to all work together so that we’re not competing on who can pull the coolest rabbit out of his hat, I guess. And we all sort of collectively are building these magical experiences. You know, within reason.

Laura Frank  42:00

Think we can stick one more question? Yeah.

Micahel 42:12

Hi, there, my name is Michael. So many of the things you brought up today are interesting. And I want to ask about so many of them. But I’m going to limit myself to two questions. And the first one is, Laura. How many of the people who work with your husband come to work after lunch? Okay, um, I think a lot of these questions about unions collective bargaining, really referred to a model that exists in the 20th century, it’s location based, there’s a building that is under the jurisdiction of a union. It could be corporation based, that’s becoming harder and harder, though, we see that even Starbucks is fighting with it. But in our world, or your world, because actually, my projects mostly now are in the built environment. So I’ve got the construction crews as well, to thank for the time to go home. However, it doesn’t mean that people making the media don’t then have to stay up all night. Right. So how do we? How do we implement that kind of thinking, that kind of collective bargaining, that kind of discipline in what is really a virtual world? You know, if you’re not part of the theatrical crew, the electricians, carpenters, you know, you still are going to have to stay up all night, you’ve said that. And if you don’t work for one corporation, you are going to be you’re going to put yourself at risk of pricing yourself out of projects, which by the way, at some point in your career, maybe that’s something you do. Yeah. But I guess really, what I’m trying to get out is, how do we think about all these things you’re talking about, which I think are extremely important? And how do we kind of implement them or think about how to achieve them in what is essentially an environment in a work environment that is no longer bound by time and space? Because that’s what it comes down to? So I’m guessing you will not have the answer right away. But I think this is a way we have to think about it. Maybe you have some thoughts.

Laura Frank  44:19

I’m glad you’re here to ask the question. I don’t have a clue.

Ryan McAllister  44:22

Yeah, I mean, it’s fascinating. I love that the take on it, because it’s it is like sort of what’s swirling around all this, like there’s a little bit of an anachronistic kind of flavor to the conversation right. So, what what I just keep coming back to and a lot of the answers to a lot of these questions is there I feel like communication is the key and not not being prioritizing clean and clear communication between each ourselves, the members of our various teams, the in history that we work in our clients. And because that’s the ways that we can communicate our chain, or the avenues with which we can collaborate, are so much more vast now than they used to be. And maybe like, you know, the the union conversation doesn’t make sense is as more of a 20th century flavor to it. But there is a way that we can all the, the tools that we have available now to continue to communicate. And then I kind of want to piggyback on a question that was asked earlier a comment from earlier that like, there is the younger generation. Deaf definitely has more of a sense of their own time and has more of in there, like extremely talented people. And I think that is as as you know, I can only speak for myself, I guess, as I sort of like age into more of this leadership position, one of the roles that I can take on more of is to be more of that communicator, and like, my job becomes more about like, not only captaining a creative ship, but also like communicating the way that the work gets done, and how you’re applying that Hone tool part of my brain to solving other problems than just like, what’s the cool visual ice cream I can make for this popstar? That’s gonna go on a screen behind them. But like, How can I apply that the same problem solving techniques to figuring out this problem? And I think collaboration like I’m not going to do it by myself. But I think when we all start communicating with each other and talking and getting in spaces like this, that’s where like, there are moments of insight and inspiration that happened as we all sort of like, spark up against each other. And then we can like use those sparks to like maybe Kindle some kind of like flame that we can wield together.

Laura Frank  46:52

I think that’s the perfect place to end. So you have an assignment for the next two days. Let’s, let’s talk about these issues and find some solutions for the future. Thank you.

Ryan McAllister  47:03

Thank you guys. Thank you


creative, project, union, room, question, client, hours, production, communicating, talking, people, bargaining power, solve, apply, team, work, communication, environment, design, meme


Laura Frank, Ryan McAllister, Soren West, Chet Miller, Pablo Molina

Session Highlight Reel