In May I visited a few production companies in Zurich to rekindle old and start new relationships for Clock Wise Productions. One vignette stands out.
I introduced myself to a commercial production house and sat in the ample kitchen conference table while the Swiss producer smoked and I was wondering if I could open a window without being rude. As I was contemplating that idea, the producer tells a story about shooting a TV commercial in the US, somewhere in the “booneys”.
“A US producer shows up with a little carry-on luggage on wheels containing a laptop, printer and surge protector. She sets everything up in the middle of a wheat field. Every time the client asks for a change or an addition she creates a document, hits print and gives the client that page to sign.” Everybody in the room is in stitches laughing.
I’m sitting there thinking: and, what’s the point of the story? The producer is printing out overage forms; that’s a producer’s job. Are they laughing at the portable office set up or at the fact that US producers make clients sign overage forms for major changes?
I tell the Swiss producer that that would be how I would show up on any set and that that would be expected by my US clients. He takes a pause and nods. Not sure what goes through his head at this point, but if I’d have to guess I’d say: “she’s been in America too long.”
We just do business a bit differently here – and what strikes me as funny is, that Americans are much more organized, paper heavy, to the book than Swiss productions are. You would think the reverse to be true. However, and this is the clincher: you ask a Swiss crew person to do something you walk away and never check in again – you assume it will be done. If an American producer would do that they would be considered reckless. We check, double check, we cross our “t’s” and dot our “i’s” and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. And that’s how I like it frankly.
As a producer I have the word “control freak” written across my forehead (there are less flattering words too) and I’m proud of it. Control freak means, I’m responsible for every detail and I can check in, follow up and go through worst case scenarios until I’m blue in the face and no one thinks I’m nuts. So yes, I’ve been in America too long and that’s because it suits me just fine here.