I graduated as a character animator in early 2010 from The Animation Workshop. I co-founded the animation company, Nørlum, one month later. I’ve been producing animation since then and one of the things I am most grateful for is to have the a foot on each side – creative and production.
I am no production manager. I am no producer and I am not an animator either. I’ve learned that. My strength is coming up with new ideas on how to produce animation. On how to, as an animation company, best possible create synergies between creative and production. That synergy can be clashes, where production pushes creative to hurry and creative pushes production for more time or better framework to strike the best possible quality. All within the boundaries of the project. I think this can work well, but only if there is a shared passion and understanding of why this project is being made. Is it for profit? Is it for passion? Does it try to strike that balance of wanting both and if so does it reward both creative and production/company equally in that effort?
We’ve had both good and bad experiences with how we’ve run projects in Nørlum. But it is almost impossible to improve without failing, which is why it is that more important that we keep trying new ways. How would you know that best practice is what it said in that book before you try to it three other ways? Usually the books are right or have a strong point based on the failures and attempts of others, but I think it is so important to adapt any model to the people applying it. And this is where experimentation is important – even with some of the most basics things that we think we know the answers to.
I like that I usually know what I ask of an artist and that I ask that artist out of respect of their advice and opinion and to take it into consideration in whatever part of the production it might happen.
I’ve leaned away from producing over the past few years and I am mostly concerned with the business development of the company. This has taken me further apart from creative so I am looking for opportunities in each project to make that bridge between creative and production from where I am now. And it usually comes down to hiring the right talent and having a clear one line statement for why we are doing this project. We think this project is cool and we have a budget that match the creative ambition – can be simple as that. We have this cool idea, but very little money to get it off the ground, want to join? Is a classic, but as long as you are honest, transparent, about it, it can work. And it interests me this one. It’s why Kickstarter is so great, Patreon, Artella and other crowd-funding/sourcing platforms are great, and it’s also one of the reasons why we started itsoncraft.com. I have a cool idea, help me make it or support me so I can do what I do best.
I think it comes down to transparency for me. That everyone on a team feels included and have a sense of purpose on the project. That is feels like a team effort all around. It is a very hard balance to strike. Money, artistry, time. It is impressive that it even happens really 🙂
Running a company is hard work. Producing a project is hard work. And I don’t think most artists or people who haven’t tried to run a company or get a project off the ground realise how difficult it is. How immense an effort it takes to create just a single job. And probably people shouldn’t know. There is a reason why a lot of people don’t start their own company and project, so why burden them with the weight of it?
I do think, though, that there is a lack of understanding in creative towards the effort and risk involved in growing an idea and financing that idea. How much labour it takes when there is no budget and no crew. Most times this is driven by that same passion for the project and vision that the artists bring, and not profit.
And like I think all producers and company owners, production people and artists, should appreciate and honour the effort it took to create something through production, I think that it is equally important to respect the risk and effort it took to bring it all there.
I hope this comes off as a wish for the most homogeneous collaboration possibly. That we all, wherever we are in this process, remember to stop and think about why we are doing this and what could be done better and how.