EIGF: Day two: “The Hollywood Model”

First panel, lead by the bloody-mary mixing Seamus Blackley, made some interesting points about process and organisation in creative industries. Rough notes below, but I’ll just pick out an interchange between Blackley and Neil Young of EA/Maxis:

“NY: EA: interdiscplinary ‘pods’ of 5-25 moving towards ‘cells’ of 7 “magical number” organising like a social network.

SB: the structure you’re describing is Hollywood, except no one company owns all the talent.

Hollywood is a social network. the ‘meet and greet’ you introduce two creative people simply to see if they will get along. a very serious meeting.

If there is a spark then the infrastructure is built very quickly around that to turn it into a creative team. if there is a shared understanding of a common process across an industry, then the need for one company to own all the talent disappates, this allows flexibility and creativity.”


EIGF Day2

Seamus Blackley

tech doesn’t solve problems anymore,
– creates them
– too much opportunity

central problem of games today, and getting worse
can’t excuse yourself from the problems tech causes when your emotional content is lacking.

hollyowood is a place that has learned to manage the business of creativity, becuase they have had 80+ years to screw up and learn.

very serious serious place, where people work “insanely hard”

michael mann film “collateral” = 16 petabytes of DV… to feed into game

talent rules… because = revenue

scale of business creates false impression – the “OK!” view… celebrity / fanboy view…

went to hollywood to try and “hack” it on behalf of games…

(sits and mixes bloody mary’s for panel)

neil young: maxis
brad foxhoven
mary-margaret walker

NY: does EA operate a hollywood model? in many ways, yes… a strong ‘studio’ process, a consistent model across the company for developing concepts… strong sense of discipline, built scale around production (177 people at maximum strength on LOTR:ROTK) – also, a talent pool of specialisms (starting to be like the talent pool of experts that hollywood uses)

Brad foxhoven
Tiger Hill (company started with John WOo)
looks for properties in the game world to make into films.
trying to understand how to partner, rather than trying to be dominent
woo went to e3 and was shown games that explicitly stated that they were ‘inspired’ by his movies, and had to be explained to that they hadn’t ripped him off! but then got excited by the possiblities and especially when he saw how tom clancy had worked with developers.
(woo was upset by the lack of involvement in the MI game)

Mary-Margaret walker
recruitment specialist

SB: how do we take risks? how do publishers deal with risk? can we learn from hollywood?

BF: most publishers don’t have the budgets.
NY: i think we are past that point. reward risk in organisation. reward focus.
how can you inject managed risk into successful projects. “all great art tends to be powered by the vision of 1-5 people”

BF: people put in niches. woo = two-handed balletic gunplay… same becomes true for game developers, as there is too much money riding on things to risk something new outside the niche.

MMW: trickles down to lowest level, people get put in categories.

NY: EA: interdiscplinary ‘pods’ of 5-25 moving towards ‘cells’ of 7 “magical number” organising like a social network.

SB: the structure you’re describing is hollywood, except no one company owns all the talent. hollywood is a social network. the ‘meet and greet’ you introduce two creative people simply to see if they will get along. a very serious meeting. if there is a spark then the infrastructure is built very quickly around that to turn it into a creative team. if there is a shared understanding of acommon process across an industry, then the need for one company to own all the talent disappates, this allows flexibility and creativity.

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