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killkillakillyo

What are the traditional duties of a creative director, art director, producer

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Curious as to how other professionals define the roles of CD, AD, producer, and every other role in a production.

 

Seems as if most of the time these lines are blurred and all these titles do is demarcate payscale. A lot of individuals are getting paid to essentially do nothing and play the middleman. While the artist has to pick up the slack and play several roles and walks home with chump change in comparison.

 

So where is the tipping point when the artist can start calling themselves an AD, a producer, or even a CD, even though they're getting compensated like a waiter?

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From my experience within Ad Land:

 

CD - Responsible for maintaining the integrity of the brand, developing the overall concept, and maintaining the relationship with the end client. They generally have multiple clients / projects at any given time.

 

AD - Responsible for knowing the CD's wishes and sitting with the likes of us. The CD typically only communicates with the AD and producer. If there is an AD a CD wouldn't interact much with us minions except to provide broad concept, but they may if there is no assigned AD. The AD would then use their experience with the brand and the particular CD to ensure that what is shown to said CD doesn't give him a heart attack. An AD is generally given a campaign as a while to see through with (print, tv, etc) while the CD is catering with others. Sometimes they draw up drafts themselves, other times they just manage the creative.

 

Producer - organizes / manages the uber-fun stuff, like paperwork and budgets. Generally the one who does the first round of narrowing down casting options, location options, and vendors like us. I see them also dealing with all the legal fuzoo as well. May also be the one to interface with the client during the production process, deferring any creative comments / questions to the CD.

 

Me - To provide a good foundation for the AD / CD to oil up the gears in their head a bit and bring their big ideas into tangeable elements at a pace that keeps them productive. I have no right to provide creative input that alters direction unless explicidly asked what my opinion is / our options are from a technical and time-budget perspective. The way I see it, its also my job to make sure that the CD / AD feels comfortable and productive when sitting behind me in the bay - and to gain their trust in my judgement so I can push forward without bugging them every second. I may move forward with something but can never ever defend my idea if they want to change it.

 

I think the line between the two can get a little blurry when an AD is being groomed to become a future CD. I also sometimes see essentially two directors on every spot. The traditional on-set director who I never ever see nor is even brought up once it gets to post, then the AD who is directing the entire post process.

 

One thing is for sure - every agency is different. Even little circles within a single agency can be different.

 

 

 

From my experience in Home Video, the art director is fully in charge of the look and I would just animate / carry out the boards that are brought to me. Usually the AD has already done a lot of work before getting to me and sold the client on the look, etc.

 

 

I don't know what industry you are in (ad, promo, etc), but be weary of just self proclaiming a title. Sounds like some toe stepping could be done in that way, and I could only see doing so as being ultimately damaging to future prospects. If you are handling the creative from the concept stage, you may want to investigate getting yourself an AD title - but treading lightly.

 

 

Interested in what others say though. Everyone's experiences are different. Its funny that you compare yourself to a waiter though. Thats pretty much the prosona I try to maintain throughout the day.

Edited by AromaKat

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That sums up what I understand these titles to mean as well.

 

But at what point do you continue to fill in the gaps left by directors and producers who just aren't pulling their weight? Or when do you take action to even the playing field, say by demanding fairer compensation or by giving detailed explanations of 'why this render is going to take so long'. Curious as to what recourse there is?

 

For example, when you are the last leg of production before delivery, then essentially the buck stops with you unless of course you want to play the blame game and make enemies. Whether or not your excuses are legitimate makes no difference as most producers would rather leave you to hang than take responsibility for anything.

 

Do you go to the CD and explain the situation, hoping to save your reputation?

Do you refuse to fill in those gaps and subsequently take full blame for a dissatisfied client, because who wants to work in that type of environment anyways?

Do you put your head down and just grind through it day in and day out?

Or is there opportunity there to step over the slackers up the totem pole?

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But at what point do you continue to fill in the gaps left by directors and producers who just aren't pulling their weight?

There are always opportunity to take on more responsibility to move up the ladder, but if directors and producers aren't pulling their weight, it's a sign that the work culture at that agency/studio supports and engenders that crap and you'll never be rid of it. Red flags like that are important to spot because they indicate a general decay in collaboration, intent, and integrity.

 

A studio/agency with a good work culture is one where everyone wants to contribute because everyone has some feeling of ownership of a given project. People want to feel like they're freely involved in a collective effort where their contribution matters to the people around them. A studio/agency with a bad work culture is one where the executives are probably structuring the company to make money as opposed to configuring it to support the family of people who make it up. If monetary acquisition is viewed as the greater goal, then people become combative in their scramble to climb the power/pay grade ladder, hissing at each other and clawing for scraps along the way. There's a whole spectrum of business models running between these, so there's lots of different mixes of the good and the bad.

 

A good work culture will generally weed out bad behavior simply through the power of group dynamics. There's always the threat of incompetence or selfishness creeping in through a new hire, but people who shit in a pool that everyone loves to swim in generally get shunned.

 

You do what you can when the red flags are popping up, but ultimately you're on a search for a workplace in which you're proud to play your part in support of, and supported by, everyone else. The way that the business runs is largely a result of the goals/intents/interests of the people running it, and changing their interests is a pretty daunting challenge, even if you're in charge of them. So, to answer your question, the suggestion is to move on, if you can.

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But at what point do you continue to fill in the gaps left by directors and producers who just aren't pulling their weight? Or when do you take action to even the playing field, say by demanding fairer compensation or by giving detailed explanations of 'why this render is going to take so long'. Curious as to what recourse there is?

 

It sounds like your coming from a fully in-house perspective and dealing with politics - a whole different game, and not even particular to our industry.

 

I think if you start receiving some unnecessary blame all you can really do is gently roll with it without confirming one way or the other in communication with others. Most experienced professionals can start recognizing this type of grease work over time, so if you believe the higher ups are capable of eventually realizing this on their own, while also seeing how you didn't stir the waters further, it may turn out best in the long run.

 

Maybe its time to start looking around for a different pasture. Sounds like you are frustrated and feeling stunted / limited. There is nothing wrong with searching for good soil in a happy land to plant your seed if your running out of resources.

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Creative Director - Once a designer like you but plays golf way better. Not done any actual design for 12 years, can't work the software but their decisions can never be questioned. Creative Directors have to be good at admin, brown nosing and being nice to people they might not like. Creative directors outside interests include golf, driving sporty German cars, golf, fraternising with the board, going to the gym, enjoying fine wines and golf.

 

Art Director - More approachable than the creative director, whose job they are after. Learning to play golf. Art directors can occasionally be found in the pub with the rest of the studio at Friday lunchtime, but they only drink orange squash. If they out with the studio after work they get totally blootered, along with all the staff from the production team. The creatives either a) never turned up or B) stayed for one drink and went home/to the trendy bar round the corner/to meet their friends in town.

 

Producer - Basically an admin who can play golf.

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The reason the CDs and senior ADs get the big bucks a lot of the time is that they can sell. As much as everyone in the process contributes to the success of the agency it's the people in the room pitching that can close the deal that are the most clearly worth cash money to the execs and get the corresponding bucks.

 

Seems like a lot of CDs jobs are sales first creative second, or at least 50/50. Seems like a lot of the time as soon as the CD and AD are done with the super broad strokes they are on to the next pitch and the rest of the job falls to everyone else.

 

Onsite freelancing is completely a suckers game. No one is ever going to let you close to a client in any kind of capacity where you are going to learn/be able to demonstrate the client interaction skills to really move up the ladder.

 

I think that's where you get a lot of the bad culture creeping in, agencies where you have CD's and AD's who can kind of get a pass on truly supporting the ongoing creative work as long as they are bringing in business.

 

I know of a couple agencies that have a VP sales to really separate the bringing in clients role from the creative role not that that's a cure all for incompetence and greed but seems it helps keep roles a bit more defined. I've never worked in an agency so my view from the outside could be completely and totally wrong though.

 

The biggest mystery to me is what is the difference between a producer and a post production co-ordinator in the mograph world. Almost seems like only difference is producer is incentivized to keep the budget as low as possible where a post co-ordinator is just getting a salary....?

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Onsite freelancing is completely a suckers game. No one is ever going to let you close to a client in any kind of capacity where you are going to learn/be able to demonstrate the client interaction skills to really move up the ladder.

 

I work with ADs / CDs / Clients behind me all of the time, as an on-site freelancer. There is no ladder to climb at boutique shops.

 

I do agree that a CD's job is to sell, and to make sure that what is being delivered is what was sold. Schmooze and deliver. Sometimes its the CD, sometimes its a contract producer. I don't see a need to get upset about that position existing. Someone has to do it. Who the hell has time to adequately do both? Until I start getting salt in my hair, rock a blazer and drive a black Benz, no exec with $500k to spend on a 30 second spot is going to buy a verbal pitch from me. I'm glad that layer is there so I can work.

 

 

 

Are most people here coming from an agency staffer perspective or something?? I guess that would be a different world.

Edited by AromaKat

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<div>

Who the hell has time to adequately do both?
</div>

 

That was the point I was trying to make. As someone with their own shop I see absolutely nothing wrong with selling and recognize it's supremely important. I'm not upset it exists but just saying that it should be split in two or there should be enough staff that there are CDs and ADs who are actually able to really focus on maintaining the creative vision through the pipeline which doesn't always happen.

 

It depends how you look at on-site freelancing and the kind of shops you work for, I just feel like a lot of shops really mark up the work you do without necessarily adding a ton of value. Even if the whole structure of the shop you work at does add a lot of value to a project, you are still going to hit a glass ceiling where you have maxed out the day rate that the market will bear and will still be at the mercy of the crazy long hours etc.

 

Maybe suckers game is a bit harsh but long term career wise my personal opinion is you want to be in a situation where you dealing more directly with clients one way or another (on your own, in an agency, studio etc.) so you can reap more of the monetary and have more control of the projects you are involved with.

 

Everyone's experience is different I found most of the time as an onsite freelancer I was more or less just thrown into a corner and left to bang stuff out, would rarely talk with anyone other than the AD and speaking to the client was out of the question, which didn't really give a lot of a chance to learn what goes on behind the scenes.

 

Granted there is no ladder to climb per se at boutique shops but boutique shops grow as they get successful, or else people spin off their own shops when they have hit the ceiling.

 

Edited by anothername

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That was the point I was trying to make. As someone with their own shop I see absolutely nothing wrong with selling and recognize it's supremely important. I'm not upset it exists but just saying that it should be split in two or there should be enough staff that there are CDs and ADs who are actually able to really focus on maintaining the creative vision through the pipeline which doesn't always happen.

 

As someone who has their own shop, can you truly recognize when one of your artists are putting out? Or do you base your opinion of them purely on the last check-in you shared, or whether or not the client is happy with each round of feedback? Or do you let your producers decide these things for you?

 

 

What specific qualities would you be searching for in an AD or someone in a senior position but subordinate to yourself?

Edited by killkillakillyo

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<div>

As someone who has their own shop, can you truly recognize when one of your artists are putting out? Or do you base your opinion of them purely on the last check-in you shared, or whether or not the client is happy with each round of feedback? Or do you let your producers decide these things for you?<br />

<br />

<br />

What specific qualities would you be searching for in an AD or someone in a senior position but subordinate to yourself?

</div>

 

<div>My shop is just at it's beginnings and too tiny to answer that. I am hands on in some way, on pretty much every job we do. There aren't enough layers for that to be a problem (I think at our busiest we've been about 8 or 10) and when we're behind I still jump in and do roto or whatever is needed.</div>

 

<div>It's something I am thinking about though, hopefully business will be good and we will grow and how to maintain a good culture where people are recognized for the work they do is something that I don't expect to just happen but something to think about and work towards. One of the things that motivated me to try this "experiment" is that I found as a freelancer there seemed to be a lot of dysfunctional practices ingrained in the industry and I wanted to try and provide a more sane environment for me and the people I worked with, maybe it will work, and maybe it won't but I figured it was worth trying.<br />

 

The good art directors I have worked with "directed" me and got me to do better work than I could have done on my own. It's that management and leadership side I would look for besides just a great portfolio and creative work. I have some freelance art directors on projects who did great work in terms of the creative but weren't good leaders or managers, those are not people I would hire, especially if I wasn't able to lead the project.

 

I wonder if there is anyone on this board who is senior at a bigger shop, or has more years in running their own business. Would love to hear their answers to your questions.</div>

 

My gut tells me if I ever lose the horse sense to judge someone's work purely on the quality of the design and animation and I need to start relying on producers or clients for my opinions, well then I am fucked and it's time to do something else. You can delegate a lot of stuff but I think probably the biggest part of directing/leading is having good opinions and the courage of your convictions (which also means not passing on the blame when you're wrong).

Edited by anothername

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