We recently wrapped production on the ﬁrst two episodes of a web series called Pawn of the Dead, a scripted comedy based on the pawn-reality genre and playing to the horror/fan-boy audience.
Many AMPers, and the actors and freelancers that we work with, put in long days and nights (gratis) for this project, and AMP supported it with facilities, equipment, catering, props and wardrobe – not to mention giving it a home for incubation. This was a labor of love (and gore), as I can pretty much guarantee we’ll never make a penny on the project. As a matter of fact, we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to augment the budget for the rest of the season.
For a company that does a whopping lot of production for the corporate world, you might be wondering why we poured heart, soul and resources into a project like Pawn of the Dead, so I’m going to tell you why I fervently believe in creative projects like these. And I’ll come at it from a business owner’s perspective, rather than with my video professional hat on – because I think there is a real opportunity for other business owners and CEOs to foster outside-the-box creative projects within their own companies.
Top Five Reasons for Companies to Support Creative Projects
Professional Growth: This web series gave several AMPers the opportunity to take on new roles within a safe environment. For example, budding director Ian Loomer got rich experience working with actors, camera blocking, and the joys of “making the schedule work” when it came to overnight shoots and tight timelines. Kristen Montoya coordinated some complex schedules with grace and built up her producing chops in the process. Additionally, we are exploring crowd sourcing with our Pawn of the Dead Kickstarter campaign. This effort is building our experience in social marketing.
Expanded Network: In the same vein, the project gave AMP a chance to work with some new freelancers. We got to know several capable video professionals that we are now eager to hire for external gigs. We only like to put “proven” freelancers on productions, and this was the perfect opportunity for us to get comfortable with new extended team members. Also, we were blessed with the participation of some truly outstanding actors who we can call on, without hesitation, for other projects.
Team Building: Nothing bonds a team like testing out a blood machine. Seriously, the crazy situations we found ourselves in during the quest for the perfect exploding-rabbit/ stiletto-through-the-eye/edible-raw-meat effect broke down any existing hierarchy and encouraged trust as we worked together on some pretty esoteric challenges.
Validation of Skills: I think we all impressed each other during this project. Russ Johnson is a cracker jack writer of racy, screwball comedic lines, and we don’t get to appreciate those skills of his very often. Emily Pastore is a bad ass Art Director, and I bow down to all the proﬁciencies she drew on to create the look of Pawn of the Dead.
It’s Fun: At the end of the day, we all need to look forward to coming to work and spending time with the people we work with. And this means ﬁnding space for levity and life outside the bottom line.
While it might not make sense for other businesses to produce a web series, encouraging and fostering the creative impulses of employees makes sense. One of our favorite clients, Brinker International, cultivates a company garden at their headquarters, the Norman Brinker Community Garden. I see a lot of similarities between their “green production” and our web series: both came from the creative impulses of employees and both give a space for employees to grow and relate outside the parameters of everyday business.
What is your business doing to encourage those creative impulses? I’d love to hear what other companies are doing in this arena.
Also, shameless plug: check out the ﬁrst episode of Pawn of the Dead. If you like what you see, or even if you just appreciate the spirit of the project, consider supporting it with a Kickstarter contribution.
Episode 1 – Something Stripper this way comes