The new year is slowly picking up speed. Compass Rose (CR), an umbrella for a group of some of the world’s best service production companies is already working to make 2023 even bigger and better than the previous 12 months. It’s going to be a tall order as 2022 saw CR achieve a lot, from an expansion into Mexico and production of award-winning spots, to further work on sustainability and diversity. One of the highlights of last year for CR was the launch of production company, Spectrum Mexico, headed up by executive producer Concepcion 'Conchita' Taboada. The expansion was a move to cover more of the Americas region and to show clients that Mexico is so much more than a paradise-esque location, with options for urban, historical, and modern settings, supported by talented local crews. CR also extended its services to Chile thanks to a partnership with 24/7 x Smile with a view to continue providing concierge location services in expertly selected locations. It was also a very busy year on the production side, with CR companies having a hand in huge spots for brands like WhatsApp, Apple, Volkswagen, eBay, PlayStation and Adidas. The Oscar Hudson-directed Flip for B&Q, from Icon Films Bulgaria, was a mind-bending and trippy triumph, and it won multiple industry awards. Then there was Wednesday, a Netflix smash hit from director Tim Burton, that became the streamer’s most watched show of 2022, made possible thanks to Icon Films Romania and the country’s unparalleled locations, local crews, and talent.
For CR, the industry issues of diversity and sustainability are key to their business model, with a clear focus on improving or implementing better working practices and not shying away from difficult conversations. Below, LBB spoke to Pavla Burgetova Callegari, MD and executive producer of CR about what is next for the network, her outlook on the year, and the challenges and successes she’s expecting in 2023.
On the cost of living crisis and global economic downturn: Like everywhere in the world, we have felt the increase of energy prices and construction materials especially. We have also seen a rise in competitive costs in crew, stages, equipment and other rentals. Budgets, however, have not seemed to reflect these increases that we all have felt on a global level, which we know presents a real struggle for our clients, and in turn, for our local teams. Our very creative and clever EPs and producers on the ground are constantly being tasked to be even more clever and creative in finding production solutions for these financially challenged projects. We have been incredibly impressed by the talent of our local teams, who make miracles happen again and again. But we are mindful that eventually, the budgets will need to reflect the current state of costs, and we hope that time is sooner rather than later.
Data Auction, Apple
On covid: Our priority in this pandemic has always been the safety of the crew and the safety and success of the projects we are a part of. With that, local covid protocols in all of the countries within our group have been significantly lifted, if not removed altogether. Because most of our US clients are required to follow union testing guidelines – we are accustomed to aligning to those rules. Beyond that, how much or how little our clients want to plus up each of our countries local protocols is up to our clients, and often determined on a case-by-case basis.
Comfort Creatures, Philo
On the war in Ukraine: Production in Central and Eastern Europe has been incredibly hard-hit by the war. In the first months of the war, projects pivoted or completely cancelled. There was a good long period of time when there was just no work coming in at all. But as the world became “more accustomed” to the war waging on, we first saw a slow return to work in our countries, followed by a fast and furious diversion of projects that might have otherwise gone to Ukraine. Now almost a year into the war, we see that the industry is very reactive to the news, and we have come to expect an up-and-down trend of workflow, based on the latest news reports from the frontlines.
On diversity: As a network, we are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion across our offices, and we continue our efforts to create a fair and diverse environment in every aspect of our production process. It is not very often that we get a DE&I request from our clients (and their agency clients), and we are surprised that the push for diversity and inclusion in productions from agencies and brands is not greater than it is.
With that, one aspect of DE&I implementation that we work to make our clients aware of is that the underrepresented population group will vary based on the country the project is filming in. If the goal truly is to provide opportunities to underrepresented groups, it is important to identify and understand who that population is, and that it may not be the same population as in the country the project originates from.
Second Chance, eBay
On sustainability: The good news is that we see more and more crews adopting green behavior throughout the production process. We have been working with organizations like Green the Bid, Ad Green and B Green and really benefiting from the resources they provide in terms of new ideas and input.
It is worth noting that some of the countries within our network are actually world-famous for being extremely sustainability-minded. Three of the countries in our network - the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Spain - are ranked among the top twenty most environmentally-friendly countries in the world. Six more countries in our network - Portugal, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Chile - make the list of the top forty five. As with everything else in our group, we learn from each other and are able to adopt each other's good habits, best practices and green mindsets.
On a ‘new production look’: We’ve seen an increased request for “global looks” or location looks that don’t need to stand in for other countries (notably, North America), which is exciting, as it opens so many possibilities.
On Netflix introducing an ad-supported plan: So far, we have not seen the impact of this on the volume of work we receive. We hope that the award-winning and ground-breaking content that some of these platforms offer will manifest itself in the desire to create some really amazing advertising that is specifically curated for discerning audiences. But it could also be that brands will now be spending more money on media which they may cut from the production budgets. I really hope that is not going to be the case, given how tight everything is already for us.
Compass Rose’s group of service production companies consisting of: Stillking Films Prague and Cape Town, Icon Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia, Entity Films Slovenia and Croatia, Spectrum Mexico and 24/7 Spain, Portugal and Chile.