I Did It! Every Writer Should Do It!

by Albert Berkshire

I did it. In fact, I did it again. I did it in 1998 and I did it again in 2000. Only this time I gave up the power baton to do it. God it feels good. Now you may be thinking it’s a demotion…but really, it’s not. In fact, I strongly recommend every writer do it…at least once. I’m so convinced it’s that good, I asked one of my fellow writers to consider doing it too.

Okay…okay…I’ll fess up. You may not think it’s that big of a deal, but I’m all for it. I quit my job as Creative Director for three stations to take a position as a writer for one station. In fact, I’m not even the Creative Director at this one station. I’m just a writer. A guy behind a desk.

What’s so “big” about this, you ask?

The producer at this station is the Creative Director. Now, it’s my understanding that this is common in The States, where the Production Manager is the head of the Creative Department, but here in Canada, the general rule of thumb is that the Creative Director oversees the producer/Production Manager. Maybe it’s all just a name game, but that’s the way it is here in Canada.

So here’s some clarification on why this is such a great move that I’d recommend it to anyone who really wants to be better at what they do.

As a Creative Director, I was responsible…for everything. Provide effective and focused creative in a timely manner. Keep the station legal. Prepare budgets (budgets…my least favorite). Train and motivate junior writers. Write and direct commercials that are both effective and format sensitive, and above all…be responsible for the successes and failures of the campaign and Creative Department. Now, that’s not the actual job description, but if you think about what a full-time Creative Director does in an average day, it’s pretty much along those lines for any market.

What if you put all those responsibilities into the hands of the producer? What if the producer was held accountable for all those things? Don’t you think the scripts that go into production are going to come out gold plated? The best they can be?

I’m not saying all producers want to go home at five and hit the comfy-chair. I’m saying that if the producer is put on the front line—the first and last line of defense, so to speak—don’t you think the final product is going to be the best he/she can generate? And that the level of input for the entire creative process is going to be incredible?

Don’t get me wrong, as a Creative Director, I was very concerned with the final product. It was not only my job, but it was the best way to stay out of the GM’s office. I think that when you give creative control and responsibility to the producer/Production Manager, you’re going to have the best input on everything you write. What do you think?

My philosophy is that to get the final product to be the best it can be, it has to be scrutinized by everyone, beginning and ending with the producer. Hey, it’s worth a try. I tried it, and I like it.

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