Delivering Digital: The New Agency “Director”


Movie credits are a lesson in lucidity — the name of every person who worked on the movie is up there, with a nice neat description of the role they played in the film’s production. Actors acted. Script writers wrote the script. The Editors edited. The Casting Director directed the casting. Cinematographers did the bits to do with how it all looks in the cinema. Set dressers literally dressed the sets — that is to say — got everything in place so that the set has all the on-screen elements needed.

There are a few opaque titles that make it up on screen, to be sure. “Gaffers”, for example, head the electrical department, and are responsible for lighting. Early films used mostly natural light, controlled by burly men holding up large tent cloths on long poles called “gaffs” — a type of boom on a sailing ship. Not the most perspicuous of terms — but a nice historical touch to add colour to the film business. Then there is the “Dolly Grip” — pleasingly explained on Internet Movie Database as “A grip that moves a dolly” — in fact, a person responsible for the platform on which the camera typically resides and is moved about on during filming.

These few exceptions aside, it is all pretty clear. The make up person does the make up, the costume designers, the costumes, the producer gets it all produced on time and budget. What the “Personal Assistant to Mr X” may do for this or that Mr X on a day to day basis is a matter for speculation in the tabloid press, but by now you’ve got the picture.

There are then, an awful lot of people involved in the making of a film, each with their own discreet skill set, area of responsibility, methods of working, and unique input into the wider film development process. But if these people do all the writing, acting, editing, dressing, making up, and production, what on earth does the Director do (except, of course, for shouting “Action” and “Cut” at opportune moments)? And what, you may well be asking yourself, does any of this have to do with digital? Why on earth is this article rattling on about the movie business, when we are interested in making websites / online widgets / virtual communities / various other interactive immersive branded digital doodads?

Let me back up a little. Digital used to be a pretty simple proposition — all you really needed was a Photoshop Guy, an HTML Guy, and “Job done” — one nice neat website. If you wanted to get really fancy, you would maybe do something in Flash — perhaps even throw a database or two somewhere into the mix. But that was pretty much that. My, how things have changed! After the post-bust market reset, digital is once again the fastest growing medium, eating more and more of a consumer’s time and dragging along the attendant advertising dollars.

Tech Geeks are an unending source of new digital doohickeys which consumers have a seemingly inexhaustible appetite for – YouTube, MySpace, Blog-this, music-that. There are a lot more things people can do online, each of them more and more complex — write blogs, post photos, messenger their friends, share videos, upload content, tag, share, rip, mix, burn, etc.


  1. Spot on. Any agency that doesn’t get this (nor retain people who do get it and can play this role) will work harder vs. smarter. But hey, they’ll survive, like they always will but why does everyone keep banging their head against a wall as if working collaboratively and multidisciplinary is rocket science? It’s not, as Craig points out above. Just needs folks to put their egos and silo mentalities to one side and trust in that one person. She/he is doing so in order to allow each discipline to have an environment to do their best work. Nuff said. Great article.


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