Recaps of APA Talks at FOCUS 2023

Posted in Events, News, tagged with Events, on December 12, 2023

Last week’s APA Sessions at FOCUS 2023 were packed to the brim and full of energy! Thanks to our remarkable speakers for joining us and we hope to see you all next year! 

Have a look at the session summaries below for a brief overview of what you missed.

TALK 1 | “Launching A New Company In A Tough Business Environment”

Our first talk at FOCUS 2023 featured a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities of starting a new production company in a challenging business environment. The speakers included:

  • Steve Davies, CEO at APA (Chairing)
  • Greg White, Founding Partner at ELMNTL
  • Danny Whybrow, Founding Partner at ELMNTL
  • Emmanuelle Le Chat, Managing Director & Executive Producer at Ocurens
  • Germain Robin, Producer & Founding Partner at Ocurens
  • Sascha Darroch-Davies, Co-founder at DLMDD

Steve opened the discussion by acknowledging the difficulties faced by the production industry, especially in the first part of the year.  The central theme of the conversation was the question of whether it’s “crazy” to start a business in the current environment and what motivated the speakers to do so. Greg emphasized that their decision to start ELMNTL was based on a belief in their principles and outlined their approach to achieving their goals.

The discussion delved into the challenges each company faced in their respective fields. Sascha discussed the inception of DLMDD, emphasizing their focus on Sonic branding and the challenges of selling to Blue Chip clients without an established portfolio. Emmanuelle and Germain shared their experiences of launching Ocurens, highlighting the passion and enthusiasm they brought to the industry.

Steve asked each speaker about their unique selling proposition (USP) and how they aimed to stand out in a crowded marketplace. The panel emphasized the importance of their team’s approach, creativity, and ability to make a client’s idea better.

The conversation also touched upon the impact of the global market on their businesses, with insights from Greg and Danny about the benefits of being a smaller, more agile company. The conversation then shifts to AI, with Sascha providing insights into its impact on the sound industry, mentioning the use of AI plugins and the extraction of vocals from a vintage recording. The discussion touches on AI’s role in enhancing efficiency and creativity, with Emmanuelle expressing enthusiasm for utilizing AI in the treatment section during pitches. The conversation ends with Germaine discussing the significance of visual effects (VFX) in contemporary filmmaking, emphasizing the integration of live action and VFX as a core aspect of their creative approach.

Looking ahead, the panellists discussed the opportunities they see in the coming year. Sascha expressed optimism about the increasing focus on Sonic branding, while Greg and Danny highlighted the potential in partnerships and collaborations within the industry. The overarching theme was the importance of human relationships, resilience, and the adaptability of businesses in the ever-evolving advertising and production landscape.

In summary, the talk provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by new production companies, emphasizing the significance of creativity, collaboration, and adaptability in navigating the dynamic business environment.

The second talk at FOCUS 2023, titled “How Manchester Arrived As The UK’s Fastest Growing Creative Hub” featured a panel discussion with industry experts including:

  • Steve Davies, CEO at APA (Chairing)
  • Ian Armstrong, Executive Chairman at Silverscape
  • Sarah Drummond, Managing Director & Executive Producer at LS Productions
  • Colin Offland, Founder & Executive Producer at Chief Productions
  • Ed Chandler, Associate Creative Director at IMA-HOME

Discussions began with Colin sharing insights into the evolving creative landscape of Manchester. He discussed the significant growth in the advertising industry, especially since the late ’90s, highlighting the city’s transformation into a thriving creative hub.

The conversation touched on the various aspects that contributed to Manchester’s success. Steve pointed out the influx of major organizations like the BBC and the English National Opera to the city. The positive stories about Manchester’s creative scene were acknowledged, setting the stage for discussions with other speakers.

Ian elaborated on Silverscape’s unique approach, emphasizing the deliberate choice to have their headquarters in Manchester. He highlighted Manchester’s strengths, including a robust production industry, soundstage studio facilities, a significant advertising client community, and a growing workforce. Ian also emphasized the city’s strategic location, efficient governance, and its status as a 5G city.

Sarah discussed the reasons behind choosing Manchester as their next hub – after Scotland, emphasizing the stunning locations, talented crews, and cost efficiency compared to London. She mentioned the diverse range of locations available in the region, from city centres to picturesque landscapes like the Peak District.

Ed, representing an agency with offices in various cities, highlighted the creative energy in Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool. He discussed the regeneration of areas like Ancoats and the positive vibe that contributes to making Manchester a desirable location for creative businesses.

Colin, who runs a production company with studio facilities, shared his journey from setting up a studio in Salford to the current scenario where Manchester offers competitive crews and facilities. He stressed the importance of adapting to changes in the industry, such as crews transitioning to APA rates, and the need to remain cost-effective.

The discussion also delved into the importance of talent, education, and the role of technology in the creative industry. Ian talked about the purpose-driven approach of his business, focusing on the decolonization of content and the use of virtual production technology to address climate concerns.

The conversation touched on the challenges and opportunities associated with recruiting talent, with a focus on the skills gap in screen skills and the need for education initiatives. Ian highlighted collaborations with universities to nurture capabilities in the industry.

Overall, the panelists painted a comprehensive picture of Manchester’s rise as a creative hub, citing its diverse locations, talented workforce, supportive governance, and strategic initiatives in technology and education. The discussion underscored the city’s appeal for creative businesses and individuals looking to make their mark in the industry.