Don’t be replaceable, Make Yourself A Creative Necessity

Some Background On Why This Matters

A while back, top directors at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) were getting paid $5,000,000 per film.

In fact, the absolute minimum rate for any director on their roster was $3,000,000. Any less, and it looked like they'd be walkin'.

I'm reading Who is Michael Ovitz?, which covers how Michael Ovitz started CAA with his partners from William Morris back in 1975.

CAA was one of the first (according to Ovitz, the first) agencies to come up with "package deals."

Instead of the normal practice of waiting for studios to come to agencies for talent, CAA would get a headstart by pairing screenplays with "name" actors and "name" directors, and sell those packages to the studios.

(Which kind of reminds me of how we write custom demo suites for films we want to work on, before we're even asked to do it.)

By doing that, they had a ton of control over fees and creative direction, with agents working towards getting the studio to see things the way Talent saw things.

Become A Necessity To The Team

Ovitz wrote something interesting...

Ad campaigns had three essential components: raw ideas, creative types to develop them, and technicians to produce the finished spots. The first two were CAA’s stock in trade and the third could be hired by the job.

He was talking about who they would bring on to do Coca-Cola's ad campaigns, and this was the very first time CAA was getting into the world of Marketing.

I think those "three essential components" actually apply to any creative endeavor.

And that made me think about where I want to sit in regards to those three categories:

Simply put, I know I want to have the best technical skills to produce and finish spots...

But I also know that I don't want to be replaceable. I know that I don't want to be the "could be hired," when I have the option to be "stock in trade" for the people I work with.

And I think that's how we become a brand that gets the pick of the creative litter. Making ourselves the best “raw ideas,” “creative types” there are makes us the most valuable to the people we work with. And even the "technicians" can benefit from this concept.

I think we can all strive to do things that make us "stock in trade" rather than "could be hired."

I like the idea of being a creative necessity. I like that people say “I need them” about us.