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November 18, 2016

The Production Companies should evolve from organizations that shoot overseas when powerful reasons push them to do so (costs, locations or weather) to international structures capable of using the World as an inexhaustible fountain of creative, technical and economic resources. Global Production Companies don’t just wait for a specific storyboard with a tropical beach in vignette number one, to go international: they have a global approach to the entire business. Reaction is not an option: production companies have to be proactive in this field.When one non-global production company is called for project that apparently has to be shot in Uruguay for budgetary reasons or in Kenya because of the location, reacts looking for a production service company in Nairobi or Montevideo and tries to make things happen over there. Service companies have the tendency to give “interpreted” information about the industry of their countries and to underestimate the cost of the project to get the business. Problems can surface later, when you land at the Carrasco Airport in Montevideo or the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya.A global production company not only knows perfectly well how to shoot in those two countries but it is also capable of analyzing if there are better alternatives to Uruguay (Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile?) or to Kenya (Botswana, Tanzania?). This analysis comes from the ability of the executive producers to detect the essence of the project and to work with the director to determine where the challenges could be better met.

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Global production companies, besides the right attitude, should have a network-like international structure: They must be able to create and manage virtual teams of people based in several countries capable of working together resourcefully and creatively. I started the process of assembling a network of production companies in 1992: I knew that the real challenge was to find the right persons in every one of the countries where I wanted to establish an office. I needed not only talented, experienced and reliable professionals but first and foremost people with the right mindset: the ability to work as a team with other people based thousand of miles away, with a different culture and speaking different languages. This is especially important because, when a production company expands its operations to other regions, its productions tend to become more international and most of its projects have to be handled by two or more offices in a fully coordinated way. I knew I needed to create a company culture that allowed every office to operate with the same standards and understand the requirements of every market where our network was going to operate. From the very beginning we encouraged our producers to move from one office to another to learn and teach systems, methodologies, techniques and practices. In this way they quickly gained the knowledge they needed to properly work with agencies and clients from every one of our markets and to shoot everywhere in the World.I have learned that a network of production companies should be based on a powerful central management. It cannot be built on agreements among independently managed companies located in different countries but for the contrary has to be the expression on a unique management and coordination. I have seen many times the appearance of selves-defined networks that in the reality where nothing more than weak alliances created for public relations purposes. It never worked for one reason: every independent company had its own agenda, its particular economic interests and a peculiar culture that generated an egoistic attitude and prevented the teams to work enthusiastically and creatively together.For the contrary a real network engenders a very powerful energy that stretches well beyond the countries where the offices are located. A network puts together the knowledge, the experiences and the relationships of people working in different countries and continents and this has a strong multiplier effect. Our office in Argentina, for instance, has a profound familiarity about Chile, Uruguay and Brazil: our Argentine executive producers know who is who in Santiago, Montevideo or Sao Paulo, have shot in Rio, Colonia or the Atacama Desert, are well informed about practices and costs of those countries. Our office in Costa Rica is very good in handling productions in Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Belize or Guatemala where some of the best Mayan ruins are located. And they also have a huge experience shooting in the Caribbean, especially in the Dominican Republic.

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We are not alone: there are several very efficient production networks with offices in key places around the world and capable of handling global productions.Global producing doesn’t only mean shooting in exotic locations. It also means working for agencies based in different countries. Working in multiple regions gives a production company the immediate possibility of getting good boards and, as a consequence of that, recruiting talented directors interested in shooting commercials internationally. Every country has a specific cultural personality and because of that the ideas that it generates are different from the ones created by agencies based elsewhere. This diversity makes that both the producers and the directors face new and interesting challenges in every new project: more exciting opportunities than if they were working exclusively in one market. This internal culture produces an interesting chain reaction: everyone in the company, from the executive producers to the directors, the PA and the secretaries starts thinking in global terms. They are continuously exposed to stimuli coming from around the Globe, they share ideas with people on the other side of the Ocean, and they challenge one another with new ideas and new concepts.

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