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Reflecting on the Past, Embracing the Future: A Year in Film and Commercial Production

Updated: Mar 22

A dedicated film crew collaborates on setting up a shot in a bustling sound stage, capturing the essence of the dynamic and creative world of film and commercial production.

As the host of the podcast, I've had the privilege of engaging in deep and insightful conversations with commercial and film production professionals. As a producer, I've witnessed first hand the evolution of our industry, and as we close another chapter, it's time to reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to the opportunities and challenges that 2024 may bring in the world of producing. Join me, Sister Christian, along with my co-host and fellow producer Lawrence Lewis, as we delve into a year-end review and share our expectations for the future in commercial and film production in our latest epsidose.

A Year of Challenges and Hopes for Improvement in Commercial Production

The past year has been a roller coaster for many of us in the film and commercial production industry. We've faced slow work seasons and the pressing need for better working conditions. The possibility of labor unions renegotiating contracts has been a beacon of hope for many producers, signaling potential positive changes in the industry landscape. As we bid farewell to 2023, we're lighting all the candles and rubbing our crystals together, hoping for a more prosperous year ahead in producing and film production.

Celebrating Popular Episodes and Industry Insights in Film Production

Throughout the year, our podcast has tackled some of the most pressing issues in the film and commercial production industry. From crisis management to unionization, we've covered topics that matter to producers. One of the key takeaways has been the importance of recognizing and addressing gaslighting in the workplace. These discussions have not only been popular among our listeners but have also provided support for those navigating tricky scenarios in producing.

The Impact of Streaming Services and Election Year Opportunities for Producers

An exciting development for producers has been the introduction of ads on streaming services. With options for ad-supported subscriptions becoming more common, there's a silver lining for those of us in the advertising and commercial production industry. This could mean more content creation opportunities and a broader avenue for our work. Moreover, the upcoming election year is poised to increase the demand for advertising, especially in political content. As someone who does voiceover for political ads, I'm optimistic about the influx of work that this could bring, particularly in broadcast TV and commercial production.

New Learning Courses and Podcast Plans for Aspiring Producers

Looking ahead, we're thrilled to announce new learning courses and podcast episodes aimed at both aspiring and seasoned producers. We've been working hard on our latest course, "Demystifying Union Contracts," which is set to release soon. This course, like many others we have planned, serves as a refresher for industry veterans and a valuable resource for newcomers to film and commercial production. It's crucial for producers to stay informed and on top of industry changes, as decisions made at the top can have significant downstream effects.

Engaging with Our Listeners and the Production Community

We always want to hear from you, our listeners, whether you're a producer, director, or anyone involved in film and commercial production. Your expectations, hopes, and dreams for 2024 matter to us, and we encourage you to reach out via our email address, If you have topics you'd like us to explore or if you're interested in being a guest on the show to discuss the nuances of producing, don't hesitate to let us know.

A Toast to the Holidays and New Beginnings in Production

As we take a brief hiatus over the holidays, we're already anticipating our return, armed with a boatload of new content to share about the world of commercial and film production. Whether it's through our podcasts or educational courses, our commitment to providing valuable insights and resources for producers and industry professionals remains steadfast.

Credits and Acknowledgments

Our podcast, Producers Happy Hour, wouldn't be possible without the help of our talented team, including the design and branding expertise of Christopher Daniels and the exceptional editing skills of Brenda Russell at, all essential to the production process.

Final Thoughts for Producers

As we wrap up this year, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all our listeners, from producers to industry enthusiasts, for joining us on this journey. Remember to subscribe to our Episode Guide at for deeper dives into industry topics related to film and commercial production. Here's to enjoying a happy hour while we can, because making shit is hard, but together, we make it worth the effort. Happy holidays, and see you all next year in the exciting world of producing!

Read the Transcript!

Sister Christian: Oh, the weather outside is fucking cold in LA. Must be December.

Lawrence: It is. It's December for

Sister Christian: sure. Boy, I can I have a long list of things that I did not know even though I've been here and worked here for 10 years until you moved here? Yeah. It is very interesting.

Lawrence: Turns out LA is a desert. We do actually get cold weather, and it's bitingly cold even though it's only, like, you know

Sister Christian: And it's raining too. Reason. I know.

Lawrence: Yeah. But, hey, this is our last episode of the year. It's a year in review, but more importantly, what we should be expecting to happen in 2024. We're ready for better.

Sister Christian: Yeah. I am ready to put 2023 behind me and ready to just look ahead for positive future, full of work and happiness and no depression. Yeah. No. I'm just ready to put 2023 to bed.


Lawrence: We all are. We all are.

Sister Christian: Exactly. I think I think we

Lawrence: are. And we've got some special things coming up for us. Producers happy hour in 2024. Stick around to the end where we tell you all about it. Grab a drink, put in your earbuds, and, roll the intro.

Welcome to The Producer's Happy Hour with your hosts, Sister Christian and Lawrence Lewis.

Sister Christian: We are 2 producers with over 20 years of experience each, chatting over drinks about what it means

Lawrence: and what it takes to be a good producer.

Sister Christian: Join us for insightful interviews and informative show topics that will help you get through your toughest jobs.

Lawrence: Biggest production challenges.

Sister Christian: And most difficult clients. So grab a drink.

Lawrence: You're gonna need it.

Sister Christian: And let's get to it.

Lawrence: Because making shit is hard. Sister Christian, how the hell are you?

Sister Christian: I'm not a Debbie downer, but, I mean, I'm okay. Like, I I almost feel like COVID times where we would just say, I'm fine, which covered a whole gamut of, like, I'm down here. I'm up here. I'm probably drinking too much and maybe smoking too much and maybe taking too much, but, you know, it's the holidays. So

Lawrence: It is the holidays. I, you know, I saw this I saw this meme. I don't know, which culture says this, but there is some culture out there that when asked the question, a common response is, I'm awake and not crying. So, you know, that's a good

Sister Christian: thing. Probably. Probably. Probably. He's from Denmark.

How are you?

Lawrence: I oh, I'm okay. You know, awake and not crying. You know, it's been a strange year. It really has been a strange year. I I can I can barely take the news cycle these days?

It is so atrocious, and work has been strange for sure.

Sister Christian: Yeah. Work has been non existent or, you know, like it or weird or the requests have been like off the wall. I I know it's just just been weird.

Lawrence: Or or, like, cancellations. So many cancellations or just jobs disappearing or yeah. Who knows what? So we're looking for a better, better 24. So I'm definitely having a stiff drink for this episode.

Christian, what are you having?

Sister Christian: Well, I'm having my my fail safe martini. And since it does happen to be the holidays and I'm not working, I've been drinking them all day. How about you?

Lawrence: But I'm just doing, tequila on the rocks. A little, little, yeah, quesadoras. Simple.

Sister Christian: Lovely.

Lawrence: Yeah. Clean.

Sister Christian: Easy. Yeah. Drink them all day.

Lawrence: Alright. Well, before we dive into this episode, all you production pros out there, pay attention because, you know, we know the struggles of staying on top of everything that's going on in this industry. There's been so much going on this year, especially with, labor unions. But fear not, we've got something just for you.

Sister Christian: Is our producer's happy hour episode guide packed with insights, resources, and all the intel you need to stay on top of this industry.

Lawrence: So get ahead, stay informed, and join us. Join the party. Sign up at producers happy hour dot com or just hit the link in the show notes. And a little housekeeping note here for all of you who are on the episode guide, We just changed our email provider and also our email address. So take a minute to mark hello at producers happy hour dot com as not spam so you don't miss the episode guides.

And if you don't see them, maybe check your promotions, filter or your spam filter or whatever you got.

Sister Christian: Big highlight of the year. I know you think it. I think it. We're very excited that we actually had a producer's happy hour mixer.

Lawrence: Yeah. IRL in real life for the first time

Sister Christian: ever. Weird. I know. Without masks.

Lawrence: Without masks. Yeah. Since we're both in LA, it was obviously here in LA at, one of my favorite wine bars in Los Filos, and it was great. We got to meet a lot of you, had some old friends come, made some new friends, and, had a really good time just kinda chatting about the industry and also not chatting about the industry for a

Sister Christian: change. That part, I know. It always like, some spouse's game. It was great. And, we just got to put some faces to some names.

You know? Like, I feel like we know everybody out there who's listening.

Lawrence: You. Yeah. For sure. So, Christian, that means in 2024, we're gonna have to schedule one of these for New York.

Sister Christian: List to every town.

Lawrence: Yeah. Every town. Just wanna make sure.

Sister Christian: Yeah. Like, we're going on tour. Looking for crowdsourcing on that. So if anybody's interested, let us know.

Lawrence: Yeah. If you want us to come to your town, let us know. So before we dive into expectations for next year, this is episode 425. That means we've done 25 episodes this year. Yeah.

Sister Christian: I guess that means we've done 25 episodes this year, which is just about 1 every 2 weeks. If if my math is math and right.

Lawrence: Yeah. So some of the most popular there was a recent one episode 423. This is if case you missed it, you should go back and listen to these because these were highly popular. Just a couple episodes ago, we did kind of live tete a tete where we posed

Sister Christian: Oh, right.

Lawrence: Big problems to each other and asked them to solve it, live live on the show. So on set crisis management was that episode, and it was a lot of fun to, troubleshoot with you live on the podcast.

Sister Christian: It's good to hear that one was popular because that one was a lot of fun. And I think that we also revealed some things about ourselves that were pretty personal, but also like, you know, in a, in a, in the spirit of letting you know that if you have a crisis on set, you're not alone. We've probably experienced that crisis before too. So

Lawrence: Yes. The topic of providing drugs for clients came up and, oh, man.

Sister Christian: We got some fodder about that. That that ruffled a lot

Lawrence: of feathers, but you know what?

Sister Christian: Sure did. It happens, guys.

Lawrence: It happens, and there's no reason for us to stay silent about, you know, some bullshit that happens in this industry. It happens. So there you go. It's real.

Sister Christian: A 100%. It's real. Like, it happens. And, like, just because I don't talk about it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. So why not talk about it?


Lawrence: And there are there are producers newer to the industry coming up under us that might feel really trapped by those scenarios. So talking about it helps them know they're not alone, and they've got the tools to kinda navigate those tricky situations.

Sister Christian: 100%. Another episode that was popular was our double episode interviewing our stand with production friends, Cheyenne and Aaron.

Lawrence: Yes. That was great. And we got to, like, celebrate in their success of finally establishing a union for commercial production people. This has been something you and I, Christian, have been involved with many different iterations of this attempt to bring a union to this department over over the many, many years.

Sister Christian: Mhmm. Better working conditions. Exactly. Like, it's always been a a large, It's something I I love to mention all the time is I don't belong like, when I would deal with union representatives and stuff like I don't have a union, but I'm required to know all of your rules, everything for every person in every local for IATC. Like, it's just insane What we have to know as producers, so it's finally after see like, figuring those time cards and knowing that they get something that we don't even though we're working just as hard, if not harder.

Like, of course, I'm not work comparing, but we do work hard as producers. It just was yeah. It's it's just so rewarding to finally have somebody representing me.

Lawrence: Yeah. Us. Yeah. And all of and our listeners out there that that do this kind of work.

Sister Christian: Never thought it happened.

Lawrence: That's episode 417418. And, if you wanna learn more about it, it's now IATC Local 111. The it's called the Production Workers' Guild, the PWG, and their website's So go check them out, and, of course, sign up. The prices to join are never gonna be as low as right now, and expect to see it grow.

Guess what was another huge episode, which I kind of knew would be, Christian. Can you take a guess?

Sister Christian: Was it one of our union, like SAG, or was it one of the

Lawrence: Why would you think that, Christian? I know. What was it? I'm gaslighting you.

Sister Christian: Oh, yeah. There you go.

Lawrence: It was our gaslighting episode. It was, a bow about, how to recognize it, not be fooled by it, not think it's your fault, recognize when it's someone else just gaslighting you, and then how to kind of navigate those tricky moments.

Sister Christian: And I have to say that that episode was so triggering for me that I it had at least 2 or 3 drinks. It could have been 3. I remember by the end being, you know, beyond the ability of mine to, be coherent, I think.

Lawrence: But Yeah.

Sister Christian: Even remembering it now, and I'm just so happy that there is now this term that even though the term's been around forever, that this term of, like, what happens to us in these situations because now I can recognize it better, and now I can combat it because it happens all the time in our industry.

Lawrence: It really does. And it's so destabilizing because it makes you second guess yourself and self doubt yourself about what is the reality of the moment. So it's episode 413. Go back and listen to it if you missed that one. It's a good one, and it it really you know, our goal always is to make sure everyone out there doesn't feel so alone in this crazy role of, you know, producing or production work that we do.

So that one, I think that one resonated with a lot of people.

Sister Christian: I hope so.

Lawrence: Hey, Christian. What's the most important thing about film production?

Sister Christian: The setup. Preproduction. The most important part.

Lawrence: But you know what? A lot of people think that, but you're kinda missing a step.

Sister Christian: Oh, right. The kickoff calls. Because that's how you set up your prep.

Lawrence: Right. That's where you gotta get all the right questions answered at the right time and set deadlines for those answers so you can put your prep on the right path to success.

Sister Christian: Exactly. Right. And this can be accomplished with 4 kickoff calls. You need at least 4, in my opinion.

Lawrence: And I think for us, producers, the most important one is the one with your producing partner, either the ad agency producer or your main client contact because that's where, like you said, set the tone, set expectations, give them deadlines for when you need these answers because timelines are already way too short for prep.

Sister Christian: I know. We can always use more prep time. Right?

Lawrence: And budgets are shrinking, so don't waste any time. So what we've done is we put together our top seven questions that you should ask your agency producer or client now on that very first kickoff call.

Sister Christian: Not only does it help answer questions that you may have, it also allows you to set the tone and, you know, establish yourself as the leader of the project, which is also a very important step as well.

Lawrence: So we'll put a link in the show notes where you can get on our website and take a listen to our free audio bonus, another delightful conversation between me and sister Christian about best ways of setting yourself up for success.

Sister Christian: Yeah. It's a page turner.

Lawrence: Check it out. But, alright, this has been the year of strikes, economic nonsense, shrinking budgets, production slowdowns. Oh my god. So let's put all of that behind us. What can we look forward to?

What are you expecting for 2024, Christian?

Sister Christian: Well, part of my hopes and dreams, and expectations are that there will be more work. And, in full disclosure, like we always are very transparent on this podcast, work this year was horrible. Like, as seasoned as I am and, you know, how I feel like I'm at the top of my game and I know my job inside and out, I still wasn't getting the work that I normally do. And if I wasn't working the way that I normally the volume that I normally did, then I know tons of people out there were not working what they normally did. You know?

Every town that I would go to, everywhere that I filmed all over the country, nobody was working.

Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah. I I have been to a couple holiday production company parties, and everyone's a little concerned. Like, people that are, you know, a list people that do the big jobs at the big companies. They're like, it's not been good.

So, hopefully, my expectation for next year is exactly that.

Sister Christian: That it can't Yeah. That it could get any slower for us.

Lawrence: It can't get any slower.

Sister Christian: Right. So, yay, expectations are it's gonna get better.

Lawrence: It's gonna get better. It will. And that was that was the tone of a lot of the parties I went to. It's like, hey, advertising doesn't go away. I've been hearing from some EPs.

I've been seeing a lot of boards. Obviously, I've been doing some

Sister Christian: Oh, nice.

Lawrence: So, you know, hopefully, those things are coming back, and, you know, unions are getting stronger. And so the protection and the conditions for its members are getting better. So that is a positive thing, and you've seen it across all industries. Right? Like, so many industries have unionized or fought for better rates and wages and other better conditions.

I'm hoping my expectation for next year is that working conditions and and people's mental health and ability to sustain a a healthy, lifestyle is gonna be easier to do.

Sister Christian: Yes. Hopefully, we're over the hump. Mhmm. The reason why you strike is to get better conditions, you know, negotiating power, all of the things. That's over.

So hopefully, like, you know, hopefully, this leads to the willingness and excitement to get back to work because we know the majority of our industry wants to work. They want to be out there working. They wanna feel like they're contributing and creative and that they're useful and all the things that capitalism makes us feel. Yeah. I'm really looking forward to it.

I want to feel good again, which, unfortunately, has died to work sometimes.

Lawrence: Now there is some scuttlebutt about Oh, yeah. IATC IATC renegotiating their contract. So Yeah. There is

Sister Christian: Now there were IATC members.

Lawrence: Yeah. There is, a little fear about another IATSE, strike. But, honestly, I don't think there's an appetite for it. I know people wanna get back to work.

Sister Christian: And, hopefully, Zag and the writers have softened up the entities that the negotiations will be like, great. No problem.

Lawrence: Exactly. Through.

Sister Christian: That's not an idea of

Lawrence: what they don't. Yeah. I'm not saying that whatever, you know, issues still are out there aren't worth fighting for. Of course, they are.

Sister Christian: Of course. Totally.

Lawrence: And I also think though it's it's it's important to, you know, get this industry back to work, get that economy flowing again in Los Angeles, because, you know, this is this town is built on that economy, the film economy. And I just am seeing restaurants close, businesses close. It's it's it's looking a little dire. So I don't know. I don't think there's gonna be a SAG strike, hoping not, hoping we can get back to work, and we continue to get the rates, wages, and conditions that we deserve.

Sister Christian: Oh, and there could be a new avenue for work, Lawrence. I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but most streaming services now offer ads. You can either pay, you know, like, 3 699 for something with ads or 1299 to be ad free. Well, in this economy, I mean, I have had to cut a few streaming services out. Right?

And so, like, going down to the ad one is, you know, an economical choice for people out there. But that also means for people like us who work in the ad industry and make commercials, Hopefully, more content more content to make, more avenues to put our advertising more like yeah. So let's just cross our fingers that that means more work.

Lawrence: You know, there's ads on YouTube, and there's just so much YouTube content. I just it's growing and growing and getting so much more sophisticated that, hopefully, that also contributes to the need for more ads, more branded content, anything and everything that we do. Also, points to the fact that that next year is an election year,

Sister Christian: and we could look at that. Hang on. I know. I know. I have no idea.

Please keep telling me about this mystical thing called an election.

Lawrence: Now, I I am hoping I'm gonna look at this positive because it can be so scary to think about it, but I'm looking at it as a positive as a lot more. There's gonna be more news coverage, more debates, more content, more programming, that there's gonna be advertising. Maybe some of our listeners work in political advertising. There's gonna be a ton of that. I I do some voice over for political advertising.

So I'm hoping some work will come from you that way, and mostly broadcast TV stuff. Right? That will need advertising, and, hopefully, some advertisers will be putting a little more money to get their messages out during this cycle where people are watching a lot more television.

Sister Christian: No. That makes sense. These days, the sophistication of regional election, like, it just so many different levels and so much has ride so much rides on every election, whether it's for the school board, your local school board, or your state representative, or your county. Like, it's all important. So, yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

We could get some a little boost from it being like a presidential election year. That makes sense. Okay. Fine. Yeah.

I'm I'm I went down I went the journey with you, and I'm not entirely angry. I'm just a little bit.

Lawrence: Yeah. I know. Hey. You know, it's still let's be honest. It's still gonna be a roller coaster of a year.

There's still a lot of hurdles hurdles that have to be overcome, but

Sister Christian: It's like opening back up almost again. It's so weird. Like, we did that. We we shut down. We COVID.

We navigated COVID. We thought, you know, like, coming out of COVID 2022, it's gonna be like gang but and it was. It was insane. It was. And then it just stopped.

In, like, the beginning of this year, it was just like, oh, okay. It's a little slow, and then it just stopped. And so it's been long enough now. I feel like this is the biggest lull that I've seen in my career. So, yes.

I'm saying all the affirmations.

Lawrence: All the affirmations.

Sister Christian: Lighting all the candles. I'm rubbing all my crystals together.

Lawrence: Yeah.

Sister Christian: I'm doing it all because I'm very excited to release 2023. I'm a cancel it.

Lawrence: But Cancel it. Believe Done.

Sister Christian: Yeah. But at by 2 o'clock the day before, so I don't have to

Lawrence: pay it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Releasing it.

Sister Christian: And, you know, I'm also very much looking forward to doing more podcasts with you. Is that selfish? Yes. Jack all the big subjects.

Lawrence: We're gonna take a little break, obviously, over the holidays. This is our last podcast for the year. You know, we might take a little bit of time off in January as well, but then we'll be coming back full steam with a boatload of new podcasts and new learning courses. Obviously, you know, we're a bit off schedule coming out with this episode because of the holidays, but also we've been working on our new learning course, demystifying union contracts, which will be out, very soon in a few days, from the day that we're recording this. And we have a lot more courses planned for the new year.

So, you know, check out our website courses. Click on that and go see what we've got coming up. We're gonna put some wait lists for some future courses just to kind of get people on the wait list to know who's interested in what. Yeah. We're just gonna be making all kinds of educational content for next year, and, of course, some awesome podcasts with some great guests.

I can't wait.

1000%. And I am I get excited to do these courses, to be honest, Lawrence, because I have to refresh my memory back to all the things that we do. So, like, for me, it's a it's a refresher course and gets me ready to go for, you know, like, like so like you just said, we we just finished up with demystifying meeting contracts, and I was like, oh, I need I need to do a refresher. And I did, and it was so great because you forget some of those, like, you know, small things in the contract that, of course, they don't forget.

Lawrence: They do not forget.

Sister Christian: But it was a it was a great one. And I like, I feel like it's prepared me ready to go for that next round.

Lawrence: And it's so easy, you know, especially at our, you know, well defined age and years in this industry, it's easy to, like, get comfortable and rest on your laurels and be like, oh, yeah. That's fine. My production manager will figure it out. Exactly. Yeah.

Blah, blah, blah. Nope. And, you know, no. You really gotta stay on top of it because you're making decisions at the top that affect things down down the line. And Listen.

Sister Christian: If something goes wrong, you get blamed for it. You you I mean, like and if it goes right, you you the team takes credit. So, you know, like, why ever allow it to get to the point where it's right or wrong? Just know it.

Lawrence: Sandra, as always, we wanna hear from all of you. So if you have any expectations or hopes and dreams for 2024, please email us. We love hearing from everybody. Don't forget our email address is new. Hello at producers happy

We're so professional now. We have our own email address.

Sister Christian: I think we had a coupon, Lawrence. I don't know.

Lawrence: We had a coupon. Yeah. And if you have any show topics you want us to tackle next year, let us know. We're down to 2. Whatever, content suits

Sister Christian: you. Yeah. You wanna be a guest?

Lawrence: Let us know.

Sister Christian: Hey. Let us know. Hey. Listen. We're here.

Lawrence: Alright. That's it. I gotta finish this tequila soda in in peace and quiet.

Sister Christian: I win. Okay. Damn. I finished first. Oh, Lawrence, happy holidays.


Lawrence: Yeah. You too.

Sister Christian: Thank you. And if, people wanna get you, how are they gonna do that?

Lawrence: Let's do 2 ways. Lawrence That's for all my producing nonsense. If if you need one of those political voiceovers, you can get me there.

Sister Christian: If you would like your political ad read by Lawrence, it definitely has to be of a certain, like, the content needs to align with Lawrence's

Lawrence: a certain political persuasion.

Sister Christian: And morals. Exactly.

Lawrence: Sister, how do people get ahold of you?

Sister Christian: I'm at

Lawrence: Alright. See you all next year. Happy holidays.

Sister Christian: See you later. Producers Happy Hour is brought to you with the help of the handsome Christopher Daniels.

Lawrence: Who is a design and branding specialist.

Sister Christian: And, who is our fabulous editor.

Lawrence: If you enjoy this podcast and wanna dive deeper, subscribe to our listeners newsletter. Simply go to producers happy hour dot com to sign up.

Sister Christian: Thanks for listening, and remember

Lawrence: Enjoy happy hour while you can.

Sister Christian: Because making shit is hard.


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