This is the story of how we want to liberate creativity in the video production industry.
I-Story of Boris and Augustin
In 2009, Boris wanted to create the content he couldn’t find online at the time. Everything in music was made with terrible webcams. Outside of his job, he created 3èmeGauche, one of the first YouTube channels delivering HD and quality videos online and it quickly grew. This is something he just couldn’t have done with the companies he was working with at the time.
Augustin was a teenage actor in the musical company of his parents. He then went to a business school with the dream to get into video production, worked in the film industry for 2 years and realized that it was actually a sh** industry with little to no room for the younger generation!
Both of us realized that creativity is hindered and that you have to wait at least 5 years before actually doing something interesting. We were frustrated, so we created Left Productions to use our talents more efficiently and hopefully give that chance to anyone who would join us.
We don’t want to become rich or powerful. We are not here to sell the company in a few years. We’re here for the long run.
II-Our goal: Liberate creativity, and more specifically, create a system where talents can fully express themselves with autonomy and support
Ok, this is going to sound absurd, but did you know that we don’t have only one brain? We actually have 2 other brains in our heart and one in our intestines which is the size of a dog’s brain, actually. Our bodies, our societies, and our ecosystems are not organied by people at the top, but by many different forces (you can see a great video about this here).
Companies and especially creative companies should work the same as the aforementioned brains and decision-making should be distributed. We are inspired by a movement called “Corporate Liberation” where trust is put above control and where people can take the decision that affects them. In that model:
- People are autonomous and can make the decisions that affect them
- The bosses are not there to validate, but to make sure that interactions between everyone can be as productive as possible.
- However, people are not 100% independent: this model implies more responsibility for everyone, and more interaction between everyone.
As we’ve grown, we realized that there are 6 things that lead our actions:
A) Being passionate:
- We are only looking for passionate people.
- We need to create an environment where we can nurture this passion.
B) Trusting that great ideas can come from anywhere:
I (Augustin) am a huge fan of sailing and there is a story that I find very inspiring: how Team New Zealand won the biggest sailing race, the America’s Cup, with a significantly smaller budget than all of the other competitors. They created an organization where everyone could contribute to the maximum of their ability. For instance, they would all meet to discuss ideas, even the interns, the cleaning people, etc. and everyone could give their ideas and challenge others (this article talks about this win, but it’s quite long :)).
How do we make sure we create an environment where we create great ideas?
- Being interested in each other: if you know what’s driving people, you can come up with better ideas, have more fun and tell them more easily if their ideas are great or shitty!
- Challenging each other: anyone should feel free to challenge anyone in the company. We really like when someone tells us that we’re making a mistake and that we should do things differently. It opens the door for many more ideas and opportunities.
- Being transparent: we need great transparency within the company and we strive to always improve internal communication.
- Being interested in what’s really happening in the world: great pieces of work are those that address questions that are in everyone’s mind. The problem with media is that it is often a bubble that is outside peoples' reality. We want to do the opposite.
C) Replacing power by legitimate authority
- Expertise comes from the work we actually do and are interested about. I honestly don't know what the best hardware is to use in post-production. I put my trust into the post production team's knowledge instead. Now, they are able to make the decisions that affect their work.
- Our goal is that you can take any decision as long as you ask 2 kinds of people: 1) the people that have the relevant expertise and 2) the people who will be impacted by your decisions. For instance, if the post production team wants to make a decision regarding equipment, they need to ask post-producers and producers what they think of it and they need to ask the people handling finance to see if there is enough cash. Based upon this, they can move forward and don’t need to ask for a cofounder’s approval.
D) Distributing responsibility
We want people to be autonomous, but that means everyone needs to be both interested and committed to what’s happening.
- Responsibility: everyone in the company is accountable for their decisions and they bear the consequences of their choices.
- Failure is definitely accepted as long as we act fast on them. A good saying on this is “fail early”: try something new, observe the impact with an open mind and change!
- We can’t say “it’s not my problem”! If there is a problem, there needs to be a solution or someone in charge of pushing the company forward on this.
E) Outsmarting others
- We don’t want to wait our turn or wait in line. We are not patient.
- We don’t want to think like other companies, we want to create new solutions. Actually, there is an anecdote that I find very interesting on how to turn problems into solutions. There was an entrepreneur who needed to grow tomatoes in a land with scarce drinkable water, but tomatoes need a lot of water. He came up with a solution: using a greenhouse and condensation, he was able to use tomatoes to actually create drinkable water. This entrepreneur turned a problem, not having much water, into a solution -- creating drinkable water from dirty water. We need to think that way. (see an article about this here).
- We need to move faster & better, creating solutions that really help our clients and the talents we work with.
- The problem with video production is that you know how much you will pay for a video, but you don’t know what you’ll get. And a lot of production companies have terrible client relationships. Amazon says that they are “the most customer centric company”, hence their huge development. We want to be the most customer centric video company.
- We want to communicate amazingly well with our clients.
- And make their lives easier.
F) And above all, getting rid of everything that gets in the way of expressing ourselves.
- Making videos is hard and is the opposite of a scalable business: every project is tailor-made. We need to capitalize as much as we can from every new project, for instance, by creating an efficient database of talents and technicians.
- Stop wasting time: there are plenty of actions that can be done more efficiently. For instance, for the organisation of castings, we’ve created a simple solution for actors to chose their time slots directly, so that we don’t have to email back-and-forth.
- We need to have this state of mind for everything. We use a lot of solutions online to help us save time, be more organised and in the end... create better videos.
- Making sure that we make the most out of every opportunity we receive. The temptation when you grow is to focus on delivering and less on generating good ideas. We need to make sure we are always able to give great ideas. For instance, we are creating an internal database of ideas that we’ve presented and that can inspire us for future projects.
- Creating an environment that makes it possible to liberate creativity: people have different characters, and we can’t change people, but we can change the environment, and such change can have great impact.
IV-Projects for the next few years
Our goal is not to have a 5-year plan but to make sure that we have and an organic organisation, that we can take advantage of every opportunity we find and that we are able to change and evolve rapidly.
In that regard, here are 6 things that we will be working on I the coming years:
- Attract talents: we are in an industry that relies heavily on network, trust and talent. We want to attract people that want to take advantage of Left’s spirit and organisation to better express themselves and provide more value to their network.
- Grow internationally: we believe our approach has a lot of potential worldwide. We’ve already grown internationally and we need to continue!
- Grow 3èmeGauche: we’ve developed a great asset with 3èmeGauche, our YouTube channel dedicated to music. We want to rebrand it to make it more internationally friendly and invest in it. 3èmeGauche is currently not making money directly, but it is bringing us indirect projects and we need to leverage this more.
- Grow our video search engine: we built a video search engine specifically for marketers and agencies. Our goal is to make it a lot easier for them to find the right video references and the right talents. Here is the website: http://search.leftproductions.com. You can search for videos based on type of product, theme, tone, visual style, etc and you can cross those criteria. You can then create playlists to share selection of videos you like. Currently, we're at the first stage with about 50 directors. Our goal is to expand significantly.
- Develop internal tools to help everyone go faster. We are implementing and integrating together a bunch of different solutions to support business development and production. We need to move faster on this.
- Develop series: we are working on a series that will tell the formation and development of the first 100% digital religion and we have a bunch of other projects in development.
Videos and films influence the way we see the world. We want to use this power to help people imagine their future and inspire them to change for the better. By liberating creativity, we can help creators do so.
Let’s make it happen!