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Navigating Rising Production Costs and Client Expectations: Insights from Industry Professionals

Updated: Apr 2

Striking the Perfect Balance Between Quality and Cost

Are you grappling with the delicate art of producing high-quality content on a shoestring budget? In the world of commercial and film production, this is the tightrope walk that producers face daily. The challenge of aligning financial constraints with creative ambitions is a dance familiar to anyone in the industry.

The Escalating Costs of Film Production

Our recent podcast episode peeled back the curtain on the escalating expenses that are shaking the foundations of film and commercial production. As producers, we're constantly battling against rising costs, from union rates to location fees, all while striving to maintain the caliber of our projects. The pressure is mounting, and the question remains: how do we navigate these financial hurdles without compromising on quality?

Bridging the Gap Between Clients and Producers

We were joined by Preston Garrett, a seasoned managing director in the production field, who offered his insights into the widening chasm between client expectations and the stark realities of producing content. This disconnect is a source of tension and requires a nuanced approach to bridge effectively. As producers, it's our job to manage these expectations and find a middle ground that satisfies both the vision and the budget.

The Challenge of Working with Cost Consultants

The episode didn't shy away from the frustrations of dealing with cost consultants. Christian and I shared our experiences of the delicate negotiation process, where every line item is scrutinized, and every dollar must be justified. Preston echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need for ongoing education to help consultants understand the intricacies and true costs of commercial and film production.

Producer's Bootcamp: Sharpening Your Craft

Get ready for an live and in person immersive production workshop. It's our own Producer's Bootcamp on Sunday, April 28th in Santa Monica. It will be a unique opportunity to refine your skills in commercial film production. This hands-on experience is designed for those eager to elevate their producing prowess and network with industry peers. We are putting this on in conjunction with Jordan Brady's Commercial Directing Bootcamp, and participants of both Bootcamps will get a $100 discount coupon to the Producer's Bootcamp! Learn more here:

Key Takeaways for the Production Community

The conversation underscored several critical lessons for those of us in the trenches of producing. Education and clear communication between clients and producers are essential. Organization and detailed planning are non-negotiable. And the value of a well-crafted checklist cannot be overstated.

As we continue to engage in these important discussions, we pave the way for a more informed and collaborative production environment—one that respects the necessity of quality and acknowledges the realities of production costs.

Let's keep the lines of communication open, foster creativity, and support one another as we tackle the financial tightrope of film and commercial production. Together, we can make the seemingly impossible possible, budget constraints and all.

Join us next time for more unfiltered insights and real-world advice from the front lines of production. Until then, keep innovating and elevating your craft, regardless of the budget. This is your sign-off, encouraging you to keep the magic of production alive. Stay tuned!

Read the Transcript!

Lawrence: Picture this. You're tasked with creating top tier content or commercials, but your budget feels like it's shrinking by the minute. Meanwhile, everything around you is getting more and more expensive. Sounds familiar right? I bet it does because it's happening all the time. And this is the kicker. While the rest of the world adjusts its prices and its budgets and its models for inflation, our industry seems to be stuck in a time warp where budgets remain frozen in the past, especially if you talk to a cost consultant. It's a perplexing paradox that leaves us trying to figure out why. What's going on? Why can't our prices go up? Why can't our budgets go up and reflect the realities of what things cost? You're listening to Producers Happy Hour, and today we're diving deep into this very question with managing director and co-founder of Rakish Preston Garrett. So grab your cocktail, settle in, and let's unravel this mystery together. You're listening to Producers Happy Hour. I'm Lawrence Lewis and I'm.

Sister Christian: Sister Christian.

Lawrence: And we're here to help you unravel the complexities of film and commercial production.

Sister Christian: Whether you're a seasoned producer, a production executive, a bitter, or a key part of the production team, we're here to equip you with the insights that I know Lawrence and I wish we had when we started out.

Lawrence: So you can navigate today's production challenges, conquer those demanding clients, and unlock the magic to seamless production.

Sister Christian: All with a cocktail, of course. So grab a drink, say goodbye to the gatekeepers, and let's dive into the art of producing a cocktail.

Lawrence: Sounds great Christian. I'm ready for mine. How are you? What are you doing?

Sister Christian: I am a fantastic. I just was on a large travel job and it concluded nicely.

Lawrence: Well that's good, that's good. That's better than the opposite.

Sister Christian: Which sometimes I know that. I know that you might have been on a travel job that concluded nicely as well, which sometimes I cannot.

Lawrence: Yes, it was, it was,, one of those amazing jobs on one of those big volumetric led stages, very technical, very complex.

Lawrence: But it all it all went really, really well. So yeah.

Sister Christian: My job is pretty technical too. It seems like these days,, as much as, you know, I used to have a varied amount of work right now., it's still slow for me. Just admittedly, it's still a bit slow. So the jobs that I'm getting are highly technical, which is fantastic. Yeah, sure. Great. Yeah. And that means, you know, I still got it.

Lawrence: Exactly. Or someone at least thinks you do.

Sister Christian: That's all that counts. Yeah.

Lawrence: No, you definitely do.

Sister Christian: I think I do. Fantastic.

Lawrence: So what? What are you drinking for a happy hour today?

Sister Christian: Well, today I thought I would have a Coors Light because, you know, it's my standby favorite. I know it.

Lawrence: Is.

Sister Christian: Yes. And what are you having?

Lawrence: Well, we're talking about budgets today, right? So I'm having something called the billionaire cocktail. Don't ask why, I don't know, I'm not going to explain it.

Lawrence: Two ounces of bourbon an ounce. Lemon juice, a little bit of simple syrup. I don't like that. So I didn't add it. Half ounce, a Campari and some bitters, and it's de licious. And we're here with,, with Preston Garrett as our special guest today. What are you drinking, Preston? Are you enjoying us? Something for happy hour, I am.

Preston Garrett: It is the blackest coffee you can possibly imagine.

Lawrence: yes, you.

Sister Christian: Know that can get you going.

Preston Garrett: I like a vicarious buzz.

Lawrence: So, yeah. It's good.

Sister Christian: Fantastic.

Lawrence: And we're going to be talking up all about budgets and inflation and what is going on in this world of production. But first, a little bit of housekeeping to all of our listeners out there. I'm sure you've, you know, listened to our podcast episodes and wanted a little bit more than what we could actually fit into the 30 minute show.

Sister Christian: Picture this, close your eyes for a second. All the resources, links and info on the current industry news we are talking about, plus bonus insights we didn't have a chance to mention.

Sister Christian: All delivered for free to your inbox.

Lawrence: That's why we created our episode guide. It gives you more insights into each of the topics we discuss here on the show, our interview guests and industry happenings that you need to stay on top of. It comes out every other Tuesday, the same day our new episodes drop.

Sister Christian: To get it, just click on the link in our show notes or go to Producer's Happy Hour Comment Guide and we'll send you all the goodies.

Lawrence: Yes we.

Lawrence: Will.

Sister Christian: Okay, on with the show. Preston Garrett is the managing director and co-founder of rakish, a boutique live action production company. Commercials, branded content and IP development are the foundational targets of the rakish business model.

Lawrence: Preston began his career in advertising embedded in creative development Concepting treatments with directors for form, and after freelancing and writing and producing for various platforms, he spent time at green Dot Films and The Sweet Shop, eventually becoming an executive producer at Tool of North America, where he worked with leading agencies and brands on content production for various platforms before co-founding rakish with Marc Forster.

Lawrence: Welcome to the show. Thanks so.

Preston Garrett: Much for having.

Lawrence: Me set the stage here. Right. Can you give us a little bit of insight from your POV of being behind the helm of a company into how the production landscape has evolved over the years, especially in terms of budget constraints and the overall picture of live action production?

Preston Garrett: It's easy to grossly generalise that budgets are getting worse and worse based on what the client ask is versus what they actually have, but getting more granular with it. The thing that's become abundantly clear to me and fascinating, I guess, in a nightmarish way, is, you know, our expenses keep going up and that, you know, outside of just regular, good old fashioned inflation, of cost of goods and services for vendors that were collaborating with, etc., etc. you know, the union agreements as they're supposed to when they renegotiate rates, those only go one direction. I've never seen a union agreement negotiation result in, hey, you know what? You should pay this crew less.

Preston Garrett: What's compelling to me is that the cost of goods and services are indeed going up, based on inflation trends that track to send the cost of doing production. It is touching every business in the world, you know, plus minus. So and that includes for what our clients are often charging for their goods and services, no matter what it may be, whether it's the cost of an automobile to using a tax preparation service online or anything else, those cost of goods and services are going up. So we're the nightmare fantasy comes from is, why is the expectation of clients so incongruent with the realities that we're facing, along with every other sphere of business out there? So the expectation is going up that we should be able to do things for less. I think if you talk with certain heads of productions of agencies, they're feeling a similar frustration recently when I've actually sat down with some of those people. They are, you know, to their credit, they have the same frustration we do because they know what they're doing and they know that things aren't getting cheaper.

Preston Garrett: However, there is a gross misunderstanding that it's getting cheaper to do production and say a broadcast level. There is a kind of collective hot take by clients that when they see YouTube and they see high production value, that, well, that was done on a shoestring. It's one thing if the client goes all in on a direction that embraces, you know, limited production value that looks good on YouTube or another platform like that, that's that's fine. However, that kind of sensibility is most often being carried over to, well, we still want broadcast Super Bowl ready content, yet we why can't it cost as little as YouTube? And I think with our agency brother and sisters, we are trying to tell them. Actually no, that's that's not how it works. And the inflation that you felt, you know, goes into the production side too. There's a lack of understanding that at times this is kind of a cynical point of view, but at times feels willful. I don't necessarily think it's willful across the board.

Preston Garrett: I think, look, our clients don't produce stuff in the trenches. They write the checks. And so but especially as clients and brands, you know, this this trend has been going on for years now. Incept their own production arms within their corporate infrastructure. You would think that there would be a better understanding of this, however. It's just it's just not happening. So I do find myself often looking for the nearest pillow to scream into about it.

Sister Christian: It's as if every single time I start a job, or to speak to an agency, that I'm explaining the same thing over and over. So it sounds like you've got that frustration too. Like, not only are you guys experiencing in your own arm, meaning the agency, you know that we're experiencing it as well. So why do I have to tell you every time that this is what's happening? I mean, it's interesting because I'm having the same conversations with cost consultants that I did 15, 20 years ago. I'm getting pushback on like, oh, the last job did it for $200 less per person.

Sister Christian: I was like, well, what was the creative on that? What was the concept on that? What kind of camera were using? What were the deliverables? So yeah, maybe you did get it for cheap. Where were you filming? Were you filming somewhere else in LA? So maybe yes, you were able to do that for less expensive. But this isn't all apples we're comparing. The end result of the creative is still important to understand how you got there. It's just it's insane. I know that anytime I'm budgeting a job and they do expect the quality of, you know, the top of the line camera and the top of the line crew and lighting and all of these things. They want to pay the bottom of the line prices. I've often thought that the model needs to switch to, hey, we have $200,000 to spend. Can you write a treatment for that versus going out there having this concept, writing these treatments that for $400,000 jobs, but then them coming back and saying, great, can you do it for 120? Like that's just every conversation that we have.

Sister Christian: And the expectations are so unrealistic because the agency is afraid to talk to their client about what they can afford.

Preston Garrett: Totally. To be fair to the agencies, often when they come with the 200 grand ask or whatever number it is, and they ask for the treatment around that, and then they walk it back to actually, can you do it for 150? They are fielding that chaos in real time. It's not a manipulation game.

Sister Christian: , because that's what we all think. The people who don't work at the production companies are thinking like, what the fuck? This is a tactic because we see it every job.

Preston Garrett: Look, I can't speak for every agency under the sun. Benefit of the doubt. I think Less than more are using it as a tactic and like, look, also in defense of agencies, over the past several years, we've seen a drop off of the agency of record model, the AOR, more clients than ever are dropping hours. And, you know, agencies not unlike the production companies, are pitching for each piece of business and one off fashion pretty pervasively.

Sister Christian: That's interesting.

Preston Garrett: I do have empathy for the agencies and any anxiety they may have about challenging the client, because not unlike us as production companies, we're always being very strategic. If we're doing our jobs well, being super strategic about what overages we actually put in front of an agency. I've been doing it long enough to just know a smooth production is the best production. If that makes it a little a little more overt, then it's like it's totally worth it.

Lawrence: Whenever I work.

Sister Christian: With streaming services and networks, because I do a lot of that work too. They will come in, they'll give us their budget, then we'll pitch ten different things to them, and then they'll pick one. And that's what we have. You know what I mean? Like, everything we pitch is within the amount of budget that they have. Is it. But that's because it's client direct.

Lawrence: Right.

Sister Christian: But on the same token, producing those jobs are a little bit worse because they don't have traditional producers at most streaming services.

Sister Christian: So you're just like collectively teaching people about live action in almost every job.

Preston Garrett: Something else you said Christian recited was the banal repetitiveness of responding to the same kind of scrutiny with the agencies about the same line items, etc., etc. same with the cost consultants to that. And I mean, look, at the end of the day, we're often dealing with corporate clients that have such a rigorous set of protocol. Holes around this stuff. What I've learned to do and what I've taught my staff to do is like, look, it as hard as it may be, do not take that repetitiveness personally.

Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Preston Garrett: I mean it's just it's how the business is evolves. Unless, you know, for a fact you're dealing with literally the same human at a cost consultant firm or the same head of production or the same agency producer, etc., etc.. You may have answered this question with this agency or this cost consultant before, but not necessarily with the same people, and we don't know how rigorous they have to fill out a worksheet saying, here are the answers to these questions for the specific production.

Preston Garrett: So what I've learned is patience is certainly a virtue. And on this end of the business, and it's just I've learned to remove emotion from it as much as possible.

Lawrence: I mean.

Lawrence: And that is that.

Sister Christian: Is a superpower to say, you.

Lawrence: Know. Yeah. Well. And.

Lawrence: Christian. I just got a calendar for a job and the timeline is totally crazy. It's so short. Like, how do you stay organized during prep when these timelines are truncated like that?

Sister Christian: There is so much to think about and no room for error. And to be honest, sometimes stuff falls through the cracks. I don't know, have you ever bolted awake at 2 a.m. and screamed Humane Society?

Lawrence: Oh my God! Or even like, oh, the caterer!

Lawrence: Oh my God, the director wants fog and I didn't put it on the freaking permit. It's insane what gets me through these jobs though, and even just my daily life, is checklists. I'm obsessed with checklists. That's the only way I can stay organized.

Sister Christian: Even though we've been doing this for years, a solid checklist is super useful.

Lawrence: Yeah, even seasoned commercial pilots like airline pilots who have been doing this for 25 years, use checklists for the most basic things. That's how important they are.

Sister Christian: I'd like to think that my job is way more important than a pilot's job, but whatever.

Lawrence: So we did a.

Sister Christian: Thing and made a new pre-production checklist. This one is built for contemporary filmmaking methods. And, you know, it's also geared towards the way we're expected to work these days.

Lawrence: Yeah, which is crazy fast. So don't let anything slip through the cracks. Get the pre-production checklist. There's a link in our show notes where you can grab it, or you can just find it on our website. Producers happy

Lawrence: Go get it.

Lawrence: And that's that's kind of what I wanted to to get to is talking about cost consultants because, you know, Chris and I, we just both went through rounds of cost consultants on our last jobs. And their numbers that they are putting forward are so old, stale numbers, I would say.

Lawrence: And I know the game with the cost consultants. You know, you got to give a little and then you got to take a little. You got to say no to some stuff and you got to take a few hits. And where do you see the line is to be drawn? Because, you know, sure, we can say, you know, we're going to educate you on what it actually costs these days to do these things. That used to be these numbers that you're telling me but no longer are. But where does that really go from there? Does does that get absorbed into their next round of of cost controlling? Is it a futile effort? Is it something we all should be taking a stance on and educating them? Like, no, a camera package is no longer $3,500 a day or oh my god, whatever, you know,, motorhomes no longer thousand bucks. You know, it's like, where do we draw the line there.

Preston Garrett: As far as individual line items, sometimes the nature of the notes are more.

Preston Garrett: This feels too high, and it's pretty broad. Sometimes, though, they're like, on the last production we did, the first ad was 750. So like taking that silly hypothetical question and running with it as if it were a real one, you know, my response to them would be, we're a union company. It sounds like that previous production was likely a non-union job with a non-union shop. We have union minimums. We have to pay that union minimum is this rate. However, we pay over scale typically for a production of this tier, you know, you get what you pay for, this project demands this kind of quality, etc., etc. I actually I'll give you a real world example of when we just did. This was a cost consultant interaction. I actually had a publicly traded corporate client with very expensive products for a broadcast media buy, and the rates we had bid for the DP, I believe was 5500 for ten and reasonable.

Lawrence: Very reasonable, yes.

Preston Garrett: So the cost consultant said this feels high.

Preston Garrett: And the first interaction. And then I explained kind of what I just explained to you. This is a broadcast commercial, you know, per the director's treatment that you've hypothetically read like this is the kind of DP that demands this price point. Second interaction. This is from the cost consultant. We did a job recently where it was X rate. I think it was.

Lawrence: 45,500 oh 45.

Preston Garrett: 4045. And my response, appreciate that. You know, I haven't seen the creative of.

Lawrence: That what that.

Preston Garrett: Project was.

Lawrence: hum.

Preston Garrett: , so and I also don't know who the director was, what the price point of the overall job was. Therefore I can't really speak to it. But her, per what I said before, my opinion still stands. And then the last interaction I had with them, this was again from the cost consultant. They said as this agency and this client, we have an awareness that we are renowned and therefore people, the crew ostensibly are eager to work with us and therefore.

Preston Garrett: Or they are prepared to negotiate more aggressively.

Lawrence: That's amazing.

Preston Garrett: That's amazing. Are you are you are you throwing up in your mouth?

Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah. No, I'm currently.

Sister Christian: Throwing up.

Lawrence: Outside of my mouth. Okay.. That's amazing.

Preston Garrett: My response was measured. I just, of course, basically said, hey, look, that's an opinion. And I and I took it as an opportunity to really educate them. And again, in a measured, very diplomatic way, I was not. Of course, I didn't bring a knife to the email exchange. Yeah. But I just said, hey, look, just so you know, from where I'm sitting. The crew. Of a project of this expected quality the only times they're reasonably going to entertain. Doing a solid on their rate, etc. is basically, well,, PSA's message like let's say. It isn't a PSA. It is for, you know, a publicly traded corporate client. Like if it is a message based film that is not retail.

Preston Garrett: Basically those two things I said look like actually it's the opposite of what you're saying because you are a publicly traded corporation working with this agency. No one is going to do you a deal. Other other than than me, ostensibly with my markup or something like that, or knowingly, aggressively bidding certain lines that I that I'm just going to absorb because I like to creative, etc.. So but I was very transparent with them. Right or wrong, it's just a style choice and it's what you can stomach. I think my stomach's stronger than some because again, I don't take it personally at all. It's like this is someone doing a job and it's just kind of like, look, I'll take it. Every question as an opportunity to educate them is thoroughly as I can. I don't just say, okay, cool. Yeah, I'll do it. We don't do this every job, but especially if I'm super close to the job during the bidding phase. Personally, I always try to remember to invite the cost consultant to the shoot and say.

Sister Christian: I love that.

Lawrence: I've. I've had that happen before.

Preston Garrett: And some and some go and some make that experience not pleasant. But I mean, it's kind of like, you know, because often the speculation we have collectively in the production community is like, you know, we ask ourselves the question, when was this cost consultant ever run a shoot? When was the last one? They were right.

Lawrence: Yeah, yeah yeah, yeah.

Preston Garrett: It's just like, well fuck man. Like, bring them on in. Shit. If we're gonna have to be interfacing with them as often as we are. And the main complaint is there seems to be a disparity between reality and their assumptions of what's going on. It's just like, well, fuck, get them over here. So now, have they ever taken me up on it? I think never.

Lawrence: I think I've had one, one come to set before.

Sister Christian: Yeah I have, I have well Verizon in New York used to send somebody every time, which was a joy because there was two of two different people that you would just like.

Sister Christian: Because, because they were former producers, you would just embrace them. I mean, I loved when they would come to set almost to the point where they would bypass the agency. Sometimes you're like, you can't do this. So that was a joy because they knew what they were doing. So when when you get to know I one of my tactics with cost consultants is to get on their human level with them. And you're right, like this is always a time to try to educate and a non-threatening non defensive way just, you know, like okay, I understand that that's what you've seen. But this is what we experience right. And so inviting them to set them makes them feel as though they have an opportunity to do more than just look at the papers. And I love that totally.

Preston Garrett: It's impossible not to pair the idea of combativeness with these money struggles we're facing. And it's easy again to become cynical and stew about it and all that. And like is is woo woo as it sounds. As my wife would say, it's kind of like everyone needs to take a breath, eagerness to collaborate smoothly and to have approached things diplomatically.

Preston Garrett: That is the beat of my drum. Yeah, the best way we can do our jobs is transparently. And I agreed, you know, agencies are eager on the back ends of our jobs to tell us where they felt we underperformed.

Lawrence: Oh,,, feedback.

Preston Garrett: More often than not. Yes. Thank you. There's a there's a good word. I don't shy from telling the agency, hey, here's here's where we feel you could have done something interesting better with us. It is hard not to feel like production is the one party expected to be a punching bag, right?

Lawrence: Yeah. Always.

Preston Garrett: , you know, I guess that's part of the markup we make.

Lawrence Well, so that that kind of brings me around to, you know, we talked a lot about cost consultants, but there's also this relationship with the agencies. And those relationships are so important. It's a relationship business. Right. So, you know, you could do make an amazing film and and, you know, do it for whatever budget they want.

Lawrence: But if they just if they had a bad experience overall they're probably won't return. So you know, looking at your website rakish. Us. Your work on here is beautiful and, you know, cinematic and storytelling. And it's you can tell that there is a lot of attention to detail and a finesse of what you guys are putting out. Is there or where is there a line when you're engaging with an ad agency and the numbers just aren't there to make something of the level you want to be making? You know, because it's like, okay, yeah, sure, we can take this subpar budget and we can put this thing out, and maybe it's just for YouTube, so it's not going to be high quality, blah, blah, blah. But then as a production company, you want to kind of filter some of that out. And you also want to have these good relationships with with ad agencies. And if it's going to be these numbers look like it's a shit show, you know, shoot.

Lawrence: Do we really want to give that experience to an agency? Is there a line somewhere that you hold personally, or does rakish hold on on some sort of quality control when looking at numbers?

Preston Garrett: It's impossible not to go back to what I was saying about transparency. If, say, we get in a script and we love it, yet the budget they've given.

Lawrence: Us.

Preston Garrett: Feels far away from what they've edited, and the transparency starts internally. You know, amongst me, my team, the staff and then the director, where, you know, we will. Hunker down and just talk about like, here's the possibility if we don't think about the budget, but then here's the realities based on the budget, what can we do and is it something worth doing? We we try not to think out loud about it in front of the agency. We talk about it internally first, and if we need the staff and the director come to a conclusion where it's like, well, if we can do this, which is closest to the price point, and it's close ish enough to what they've written down, if the agencies receptive to this approach, then we'll pitch it.

Preston Garrett: Then I will tell the agency, like, look, million dollar idea on a PBR budget. We'll just be very real with them. And then, you know, project, project agency, the agency temperature of the room from temperature of the room. You know, we've had agencies very graciously say, oh my God, this is great to hear we're so self-aware already that what we've written probably doesn't line up with the budget. We want to hear more. And then, you know, we booked the job or not based on that pitch., sometimes the response will be well, over here at company XYZ. They said they could do this. And, you know, my response is usually like, well, great.

Lawrence: Like I sound like.

Preston Garrett: I don't know how. I don't know how they're getting there.

Lawrence: Right? Yeah.

Preston Garrett: , but if if you wish to hear from us about this opportunity, this is somewhat the direction we're going to go. And if that sounds cool to you, let's get on the zoom.

Preston Garrett: If it doesn't, then, you know, best of luck. So,, so yeah. So as far as answering your question, it it is project to project, but we're never going to put a budget and a pitch together that don't work. The budget's there for a reason. It's there to be spent., if you come in under awesome. I'm not going to tell you to come in under. I just ask that you tell me if you feel like you're going to go over, and then we'll work through that together. And then sometimes more times than not, if we're poised to go over, if we know we can't get an overage for something or it's not defensible, like if it if it started with us, you know, I'll make an executive decision with the directors about, are we going to eat it or are we not going to eat it? Every job has something like that come up and every job usually the answer's like, yeah, you know what? Do that thing you bring up.

Preston Garrett: You know what? I know we didn't bid for Steadicam.

Lawrence: Fuck it. What it needs. Do it.

Preston Garrett: It's all about transparency and being judicious about that kind of stuff.

Lawrence: And creating partnerships. Like you said, you know, at the beginning of this chat, you know, you feel like your partnership, your partners with the ad agency, and if you go into it with that kind of mindset that removes any of that, you know, friction. But the same way as you would be partners to your line producer or your director in saying, okay, hey, here's problem X, how do we want to handle it? And it's not a situation where that I've been in even recently where some, you know, I potentially am being brought on to line producer job and there's an expectation of a certain number I need to be under. And I typically don't try not to take those jobs because there's a misstep between what what's the intention of this job? Are we here to make something, be a partner with the agency and do something exceptional? Or are we just here to make money, which is not what the ad agency and client who I'm the one in the room with at the end of the day, trying to figure out how to execute what they want to execute? Well, there's a different agenda.

Preston Garrett: Totally. I mean, look, there are, of course, jobs that you can do for the money. And typically if we, the production company and the director are doing it for the money, that's a good litmus test for the agency's probably for the money also. And like, look, have I ever booked a job and said it would be cool if we came in under, of course. But that's usually when I know for a fact that the budget is healthy, which, you know, I can count on one hand with multiple fingers cut off how often that happens a year. Yeah, anymore. So my proprietary style is like I say, it would be cool if it's not a firm.

Lawrence: Yeah, of course.

Preston Garrett: Because that's that's weird. It is. And also like I've been in the position to where on the back end of the job, you get the actual and it's like, Holy moly, I can't believe we came in that under how awesome yet. Then I see the final spots and I say, yeah, it feels like.

Lawrence: Save some money.

Preston Garrett: Yeah, I would rather go over budget on a job and be like, Holy shit, how awesome did that turn out? As opposed to, hey, we just made a shit ton of money, we have beer money for the next year and then be like, well, yeah, that was.

Lawrence: Cool on the site.

Preston Garrett: Especially if it had the capacity to be great. Amazing.

Lawrence: Yeah. So, you know, where do we go from here? I mean, transparency, partnership, these are all the things I'm picking up from our conversation. But where do you see the industry going? I mean there's it's so fractured and, you know, especially with like you said, the agency of record kind of not really existing and, and projects are one offs. And creating that kind of relationships with agencies is still so important. But they're juggling a million things, especially with social media and content and whatnot, which we'll talk about another episode, but like,, where do you see things going in terms of inflation budgets in this, this, this tenuous relationship between money and creativity?

Preston Garrett: I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Preston Garrett: As far as that disparity between client expectation and what we can actually do for certain price points.

Lawrence: hum.

Preston Garrett: I think if you're going to work in this industry, I think everyone, again, should just take a breath., probably pop a cause.

Lawrence: And.

Preston Garrett: Just kind of get into a mindset of acceptance, a call to action to the production community to bid what things should cost.

Lawrence: , and.

Preston Garrett: Make the decision about the creative as much as possible. Philosophically, that's where what I would love to do. I think the more we do that and there's more consistency across how we build things now, it's it's one thing if director A bid's one approach and director B been something completely different and they it is apples and origins, that's fine. But if everyone's bidding to shoot a watermelon with Gallagher bringing a hammer down on it against a white site.

Lawrence: Like.

Preston Garrett: Those budgets, I would.

Lawrence: Love it if you.

Sister Christian: Need a producer for.

Lawrence: That. I mean,.

Preston Garrett: No, but I mean, like outside of the directors fees plus minus, those budgets should be, you know, within ten grand of each other, depending on where you're shooting it.

Preston Garrett: More consistency, because I do think in defense of production companies that their strategy is to buy the job, as we like to say. But I think that's a short term gain. And it's not a long term game long term. The way we impact not any seismic change, but at least the needle moving in the right direction to get as close to stabilizing the expectation. Be a united front as much as you can with bidding things how they should be bid. And having the wherewithal and the poise to engage agencies, cost consultants, clients. When you have the opportunity to to again, constructively educate, if you take the right tone, which usually is no tone.

Lawrence: Right.

Preston Garrett: You know, people are eager to learn. This is our philosophy, by and large rakish. And it's we've done well by it, you know. So I think it's kind of this simple.

Lawrence: Yeah.

Lawrence: It is. And it's, you know, it's it's the people it comes from and the honesty behind it that matters. So take that for what it's worth, Preston, thank you so much for spending this time with us.

Lawrence: And this has.

Sister Christian: Been amazing.

Lawrence: Diving deep into, you know, what is happening in our production. Little landscape.

Preston Garrett: Yeah. No. Thanks so much. I appreciate you having me on.

Lawrence: Yeah. And if people want to get Ahold of you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Preston Garrett: , rakish website that's rakish dot us.

Lawrence: Amazing.

Lawrence: Thank you so much for spending happy hour with us, Mr. Christian. How about you?

Sister Christian: , well, if people want me, they can get me at sister Christian and Lawrence, if they want you. How can they get t

Lawrence: See you all next time. Awesome.

Sister Christian: Thanks for joining producers happy hour.

Lawrence: If you got value from this episode, please don't keep it to yourself. Spread the love by rating and reviewing us on Apple Podcasts.

Sister Christian: And let's be honest, we wouldn't have the show without you. Your feedback helps us to keep making this amazing content.

Lawrence: This show is brought to you by our editor, Brent Russell at

Sister Christian: And Christopher Daniels, who is our branding expert and one fabulous treatment designer.

Lawrence: So until next time, always.

Lawrence: Remember making.

Sister Christian: It is hard.



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