The Workshop: Where production is constantly changing
When it comes to TVCs, which are the ones that you remember most? The ones that you felt a connection with, stayed in your mind or that spurred you on to share with others? That’s exactly what The Workshop does.
The specialist team creates beautiful, memorable content for 99’s clients such as New World and Mazda and their direct clients Farmers and G.J.Gardner. But The Workshop also does everything else from social to images to radio, in-house and with enviable turn-around times, which is why it holds a unique position within New Zealand’s advertising world.
Under one roof
The Workshop gives its clients an immersive, hands-on experience in the journey to create an engaging and memorable end product that connects with their intended audience. If a client were to sum up this content creation and production company in a few words, I imagine they might choose efficient, inclusive, fun and talented.
The Grey Lynn-based specialist team of 20 includes DOP’s, producers, editors, motion graphic artists and colourists applying their talents across a variety of different mediums.
The Workshop is 99’s straight-to-production offer, giving clients direct access to their in-house TV, content, social, digital, photography and audio teams so they can benefit from a leaner, faster and more cost-effective production work.
Managing partner of The Workshop Angela Bird, who now juggles two roles after recently becoming 99’s director of delivery, says having everything in-house is what sets them apart and enables them to deliver high-quality content in a short space of time. And the amount of content is growing.
“The quality of output that we have is really quite unprecedented for the amount of people that we have working here,” she says, explaining the average campaign from initial concept to delivery can span between just days to a few months.
“There is always an element of speed to what we do, not in compromising the quality of work that we output,” adds Bird. “Because we don’t have to work with third parties, we’re not constantly having to try and schedule our work in with [others].”
At The Workshop, clients are seen firstly as creative partners, although they can also take a less-involved approach if they prefer. The agency recognises their clients’ strong understanding of their target audience and what they want to achieve creatively and put their expertise to good use, forming a transparent, collaborative way of working.
“Clients are always in here reviewing work or having discussions about the creative idea and they see everybody working on it, no one’s hiding,” says Bird. “They sit in the sound studio, they sit within the edit suites...they feel part of the team and that’s something we all feel very strongly that we want to cultivate with our clients.”
Clients are involved in every step towards the finished product, even during filming, an approach Bird says their clients love and has worked very well for the company, ensuring there are no surprises by post-production.
“For me as an ex-producer,” Bird says, having spent 12 years of her career as a digital producer, “that’s a very strong position for us to be in. Our clients get to work with the people who produce their work...that allows us to work in a very agile and more stream-lined way.”
The Workshop can have 10-20 projects happening at any one time, from smaller social content through to an expansive brand ad, yet their speedy turn-around times are maintained thanks to their in- house and specialised team combo.
“Our clients are having to be more and more reactive to the marketplace and being able to produce work more cost-effectively and faster definitely has its benefits,”
Key time-saving parts of their process involve directors coming on-board early on, bringing an idea to life quickly and avoiding a lengthy brief. Strong relationships with talent agencies also cuts time.
Because of their specialisms in different areas, The Workshop team can cater for a wide range of clients who challenge them with a diverse set of briefs, which is something the team thrives on. “We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach or tone of the output that we have,” explains Bird. “Nothing that we produce is formulaic – there’s a real diversity in the work that we do and that keeps it really interesting.”
The work may be fast-paced and stressful at times but it’s always worthwhile and rewarding, says Bird.
“We’re really fortunate to have the clients who want to push themselves creatively and us creatively and that really allows us to stretch our muscles,” she says. “You can’t help but feel proud of what the team has produced because it’s very much a team effort, that pride is shared by everyone.”
Bird’s passion for her work is unmissable. The production process is addictive she laughs, “...just knowing that you produce good work all the time and actually build really great relationships with your clients means that it’s hard not to be part of that process, that environment and that team.
“I really feel that The Workshop team is really one of the strongest production teams I’ve ever worked with.”
A few noticeable trends that make an advertisement highly effective in today’s market are emotional engagement, a clever idea or something visually compelling, notes Bird.
“Ads work in different ways. I think very sales-focussed ones need to get across price and product and make sure that the consumer understands the message so that definitely has its place,” she says. “Whereas some ads need a storyline...it needs to be a strong narrative with a strong message.”
She describes one example of a visually commanding, beautiful brand ad The Workshop created for GJ Gardner, where the team produced six TVCs of the company’s different franchisees around New Zealand. It also turned out to be one of their most challenging shoots because of the 21 day schedule it involved filming in locations across the country.
Although digital/online is an unstoppable force, TVC still has its place, says Bird, especially within the NZ market, which doesn’t seem to be depleting year on year like in the UK.
“The budgets that we have for TVC work are still quite comprehensive and our clients all come to us with a need for TVC work.”
Bird says social is becoming one of their bigger channels and believes there is a clear delineation between content and social. Social is consumed faster, she explains, so production of it needs to be considered in a lighter, stripped back way. She also sees VR and AR playing an increasingly important role.
“It’s a whole different way of engaging and it’s a very exciting way of engaging and it opens up a whole different channel and means that the work that we do for film will have to work within that space as well,” she explains.
“I think it’s our responsibility to make sure that we’re able to not only keep up with how the industry is evolving, but also be at the forefront of that – we should be causing the industry to change,” she says.
“I feel personally, very strongly, that the more traditional way of producing certainly film content, in all of its different levels, needs to change; we can’t rely on massive budgets, we can’t rely on having a cast of thousands working on things, we can’t rely on keeping clients at arm’s length. That model is changing and I strongly feel that The Workshop is at the forefront of that.
This story is part of a content partnership with The Workshop.