Lady Gaga is on a Skype call with Studio XO founder Benjamin Males. He’s been tasked to make a flying dress for her, and amazingly has put together a concept involving drones that will each carry pieces of fabric which make up the dress. As he explains his design, Gaga cuts him off and says, “But Benjamin…the dress is going to make me fly, right? Benjamin looks over to his business partner who is shaking her head furiously and making that mock-execution hand gesture. He turns back to Gaga and says, “yes Gaga, the dress will make you fly.”
And this is what it is to be a producer; or at least this is what I took away from yesterday’s event by Production Social. The lengths you’re prepared to go to realise ideas. So, three months later, after time spent in workshops and deserts, with weapons engineers and aviation experts, Studio XO had indeed build a dress that flew Lady Gaga around a warehouse to the delight of the world’s media.
The speakers we saw all had both a steely determination for achieving their goals and an incredible flexibility for finding their way there. It’s that combination of seemingly contradictory traits that creates a space where unexpected and amazing work can happen. Visual artist and writer, Miriam Elia, seemed to have very little trouble achieving her goals and shared with us her book, ‘We Go To The Gallery’, which is a tongue-in-cheek explanation of contemporary art to children. Most of her flexibility (if you can call it that) came after finishing the project, when she was threatened with copyright infringement by Penguin for imitating their class Ladybird Book style. Miriam’s solution to avoid the 15 page legal letters that kept arriving on her doorstep was to make a few cosmetic changes to the book and change her address. Who says you can’t run from your problems? What I loved about Miriam and the other speakers was there do it and see attitude. Just say yes and see what happens.
One of the best pieces of advice form creative duo, Ben and Andrew was to listen with all five senses. Often it’s what’s not being said which is where you strike gold but you really have to be patient and receptive to find it. Jon Barnes of Hyper Island spends his time helping others to facilitate these kinds of environments by challenging the assumptions and normal practice of an organisation. He pointed out that people don’t resist change, the simply resist being changed. Put another way, you can tell people what to do. You can try and sell your idea to people. You can consult with people. Or you can actually involve them. Jon was talking about the way interactions happen and things get done within an agency, but it made me think. Advertising, to the rest of the world, still means selling. So can greater audience involvement in the worlds brands are trying to create result in more relevant and engaging advertising? Let’s make it and see.