Submittedto CornellStagnation,cynicism, disillusionment. Those adjectives fairly capture the spirit of HighConcept Studios when my manager and I were recruited by a High Concept boardmember to turn the company around in 2001.
As VP of New Film Projects, my newrole was to direct our expansion into animation and comedy and retain ourrelationships with the three key directors in High Concept’s $550 millionstable.
Though I believed in High Concept’s potential because of its trackrecord with drama and action films,
when I first arrived it was immediatelyclear that its 250+ employees’ morale had been dealt a severe blow by executivemanagement’s lackadaisical leadership.
Though individually brilliant, theexecutives were not working cohesively, resulting in poor product positioningin the marketplace and a spirit of disorganization among employees, creativestaff, and film distributors.
Calling a meeting of the 6 full-time and 3contract new projects employees who reported to me, I enjoined them to leveragetheir personal network among High Concept’s other teams to find out what waswrong.
Through them and my own contacts I also conferred with each of HighConcept’s five functional groups. How could we save the company?
What Idiscovered was that each group in the studio worked on a highly ad hoc basis,with little consistent integration of effort.
TheInternational Distribution group, for example, had initiated a new relationshipwith a Shanghai Film Distribution (SFD) unaware that the Domestic DistributionGroup’s deal with RKM Theaters explicitly precluded us from working with SFD.
This lack of communication and planning contributed to unacceptable overhead,and High Concept’s near-sighted focus on short-term earnings meant sound,long-term thinking was unlikely.
My solution, sanctioned by the CEO and generalmanagement, was to make the key processes of new project development and film promotionpart of a single corporate-wide collaboration.
Each film production team wouldbe staffed with representatives from each stakeholder group, and as a companywe would focus on no more than 10 to 12 film projects and key promotionalcampaigns at a time.
By working with every group to determine the besttradeoffs between short- and long-term gains, I won companywide support thatsuccessfully focused our message so employees, creative staff, and distributorscould respond.
Within twelve months, our films were receiving increasedcoverage from industry publications and we had increased our profitable filmventures by 300%, setting the stage for our acquisition by industry leader RKOStudios in 2002.