Tuesday, July 23, 2019

2019 Production Outlook Survey -- Michael Di Girolamo

1) What’s the most relevant business and/or creative lesson you learned in 2018 and how will you apply it in 2019? 
 
2) Gazing into your crystal ball, what do you envision for the industry--creatively speaking or from a business standpoint--in 2019? 
 
3) What are your goals, creatively speaking and/or from a business standpoint, for your company or division in 2019? 
 
4) Tell us about one current project you are working on in early 2019. 
 
5) Last year’s constant headlines of gender pay disparity, sexual misconduct and worse brought issues to everyone’s attention that were long overdue to be dealt with. There have been industry wide-strides made towards righting these wrongs but there’s a long way to go. Can you tell us what policies you have in place or plan to implement in 2019 to ensure racial and gender diversity, pay equality and a safe/inclusive work environment for everyone in your company or division? 
 
6) Does your company have plans for any major expansion/investment in technology in 2019 and if so, in what? How will this investment add value to the services you offer to your clients? 
Michael Di Girolamo
Founder/Managing Partner
Hey Wonderful

1) Our business is in a constant state of flux and is evolving rapidly. Take advantage of it and lean in.

We must be able to adapt to the ever-changing demands that each project presents. There is no catch all solution to anything we do. Every project that comes to us is unique and requires a bespoke approach to production.

We strategize and quickly come up with creative solutions that fully support the concept— that’s why agencies continue to come back to us as their production partner. I find that brands and agencies are further embracing our creative talents, engaging us earlier on and viewing us more and more as their collaborators.

And while we relish going to the ends of the earth for our projects (literally), I would be kidding myself if I didn’t admit I feel badly we’re not able to take full advantage of filming in our own backyard of Los Angeles.

Too many times projects are priced out from filming here and we often pivot to an off-shore location. This greatly impacts the livelihood of our below the line crew and local vendors—which over time drains our resources and weakens our industry as a whole.

2) I’ve seen so many swings in our business over the years so there’s no way of knowing what the future holds, but one thing I’m sure of is that storytelling in advertising is changing and it’s changing for the better. We’re seeing real stories with real meaning from people who have a message and whose authenticity and emotion breaks through. We’re living in a time where falsehoods clutter our lives (via our political climate and misrepresentation) and more and more people are looking for truth, honesty and equality.

3) With a firm hand on the steering wheel and the pedal to the metal, I feel the best is yet to come in 2019 for Hey Wonderful. Coming off the heels of Sundance, we left inspired by the diversity of young filmmakers who now have a voice to tell their stories, all of which had a common thread of humanity at their core.

With that in mind, we’re hoping to expand our roster to better reflect the world around us. Also, we plan to expand further into experiential - an area we have tremendous experience in, having produced numerous award-winning experiential projects for our directors, Sam Cadman, TJ O’Grady Peyton, Sam Spiegel and Peking. It’s an area where we’ve seen a lot of growth, in part because, while it often appears straightforward on screen, it is a particularly complicated style of production that requires expertise not only from a director but from their producers and production company.

5) My partner, Sarah McMurray, and I are constantly working to improve the work environment of our staff and freelancers. We’re hyper-aware that success or failure rests on our shoulders and that creating a safe and inclusive workplace starts at the top. As company owners, that is our responsibility.

We need to educate ourselves and foster crews that include women, minorities, people of different sexual orientations and gender identities in all roles. They exist and if we can’t find them we should be mentoring and creating situations that offer more opportunities.

If we work together to correct those wrongs we can lead the next generation to be their best possible selves, pay it forward, and not repeat the same mistakes.

If there’s over-correction in order to get it right, I’m OK with that--especially after years of under-representation for women and minorities. I hope one day we can look back and know we had a hand in helping to make it right.

6) Our focus now more than ever is storytelling--and how our roster can adapt compelling stories to engage on myriad platforms. The industry got a bit of a reality check last year as many companies that had thrown their hat in the VR ring moved away from that technology. Consumer demand wasn’t there and a few VR companies closed when investment dried up. That could change in 2019 or beyond, but as emerging technologies ebb and flow, story remains the guiding beacon for our work.

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