What trends, developments or issues would you point to thus far in 2022 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of this year and beyond?
The hybrid workplace is likely here to stay and remote collaborations have been mastered and embedded into how we work. We were able to pivot quickly as an industry, problem solving as we always do. In many ways, hybrid working is of benefit to everyone both when it comes to work-life balance and collaborating with people around the world. But there is also something to be said about the benefit of being in the room together, and especially when it comes to mentoring our young talent. Learning the craft involves many things that are hard to absorb and replicate via zoom, so we are developing new approaches to how we mentor to ensure that the next generation of talent gets the experience with all of the energy and subtleties of being in the room.
How have any societal issues--such as the pandemic, the Supreme court decision on abortion, calls for equity, inclusion, diversity, racial and social justice--impacted the way you do business, company policies and/or selection of projects/creative content?
First and foremost, Cut+Run is a family. It’s a crazy world we live in right now and it feels really overwhelming at times, but as a family, we support each other and use our collective voice for good. Lending our time and energy to initiatives that can make positive change is an important part of who we are as a family and as a team. We know that not everything has a perfect solution or quick fix, and we learn, adjust, grow, then try again. Not everyone’s perspective is the same, and that’s vital to understanding how to build a future that is inclusive - from the way we apply our craft to public service to supporting a more diverse industry.
What’s the biggest takeaway or lessons learned from work (please identify the project) you were involved in this year?
Cut+Run has always operated under a borderless philosophy, working globally in our locations, on set, or really, wherever our clients need us. Of course, during the early part of the shutdown we didn’t go anywhere, but that remote experience really highlighted Cut+Run’s capabilities for promoting the talent no matter where they are. In 2021 we were honored to be a part of the creative team on Meta’s “Skate Nation Ghana” which tells the story of Ghana’s burgeoning skateboarding scene and how they used Facebook’s platforms to build their communities. In collaboration with our partnership with The Quarry in London, Paul Watts was tapped to edit this extraordinary short film out of Cut+Run’s New York office. It was directed by Bafic, Elliott Power and Justyna Obasi of Love Song (LA + NY) for agency Droga in NY and filmed in Ghana and South Africa. This project has resonated with audiences everywhere, sweeping many of the 2022 award shows and most recently was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial. It is an example - happily one of many - that reminds us that we are storytellers first, and that there are so many incredible stories to be told. Wherever, whenever, and however we can.
What work (advertising, entertainment, documentary) -- your own or others--struck a responsive chord with you this year and why?
There is so much incredible content out there, but a few things come to mind. One is “Coming Home,” which was written and directed by Margot Bowman and Naim Naif, and edited by our very own Aika Miyake. This is a short film that follows Freedom Dabka Group - a collective of Palestinian-American dancers living in Brooklyn who use Dabka as a way to connect to their community and homeland. This is clearly a very sensitive subject and I was so inspired by this team and how they navigated this project so respectfully and with such unique perspectives. This next one might seem silly, but I just watched the series “Alone” - where people who have incredible outdoor and survival skills are dropped in the middle of nowhere. They had the training and skills, but most were not prepared for the toll of being completely isolated. It was a stark reminder of our need for human connection, and although on most days I curse technology, how thankful I was for it during the height of the pandemic. And last but not least, “The Bear. “ OMG, a must watch.
While gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to content creation and/or the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2022 and beyond.
Indeed, tricky. I will say that now that campaigns with a full suite of media including social is standard, we are having deeper and more thoughtful conversations with clients about deliverables and creative impact, what’s needed, and why, with people being more selective about where and when to apply the message. Sometimes things stand out more when they aren’t everywhere - and other times it is important to catch audiences in each place they live. Those decisions are being made with greater clarity and intent.
Has the first half of 2022 caused you to redefine or fine tune the goals of your company, division, studio or network--and if so, in what way(s)?
We continuously try to expand our areas of reach, making sure we are moving forward in new and exciting ways. We also continue to refine and fine tune this hybrid world, providing the best support to our people, our clients, and our production partners. Also, we try to have a lot of fun. It’s important to make joy a priority. Whether in the office or working from home, we want our team waking up feeling pumped about going to work. As I always say, let’s do this!