Patrick Fischer is co-managing director, with mixer Richard Kondal, of UK-based post-production house Creativity Media.
The company works across a host of different formats from Quibi short-form series such as Cup Of Joe, to global theatrical tentpoles including 47 Metres Down and 47 Metres Down: Uncaged and independent film and TV dramas and documentaries which presently include Looted and SAS: Red Notice, as well as sports documentary series Sunderland Till I Die and Flying High, about the Chelsea Football Club’s women’s team.
Creativity Media was acquired by UK production outfit Fulwell 73 in March 2019.
Is it business as usual for you and your team as you all work remotely?
We’re a close-knit team of 15, so this whole lockdown feels a bit like a family adventure.
Because we work across the entire post finishing process on a host of different formats, from short form content to global theatrical tentpoles, some aspects of the business have been easier to move to a remote set up than others. Nevertheless, over the past two weeks we’ve set up all of our staff and clients to be able to work remotely with minimal impact on our projects. Our team has done a remarkable job there.
As such we now operate almost entirely remotely, with all of our post staff dialling in via dedicated hardware extensions so they can continue to use the workstations, the shared storage and high-speed internet at our facility.
For offline and online editors setting up working from home has been rather straightforward by using hardware extensions to access their machines. For grading we have set up a 4k HDR Baselight suite at our colourist Matthew Troughton’s house and enabled a streaming solution so the graded picture can be viewed by multiple clients in real-time. For sound, our two sound editors now have set ups at home and we’ve also moved a 5.1 ProTools mixing suite to our mixer (and my business partner) Richard Kondal’s home.
How are you maintaining an office routine?
We have a 9am video call and spend much of our time on various chat and video call apps.
Which systems are you using to talk to one another and clients?
Google Hangout and Google chats are big in our world and good old WhatsApp is also important, especially for sharing the goldmine that are coronavirus memes and TikTok videos!
In what ways are you and your colleagues keeping up team morale?
The Fulwell 73 team have been fantastic at making this challenging time as positive as it can be for all of us, from group video Pilates sessions to Friday night virtual drinks and Zoom pub quizzes, this time we spent in isolation is bringing us all closer together.
What advice would you give to people in the business who are worried about the future?
These are extraordinary times we’re living through. However with all this uncertainty there is no need to panic. I believe that anyone involved in creating content who had a job before the lockdown can be confident to have a job afterwards. It may be with a different company or on a different production but as consumer demand continues, we all will continue making content and getting paid for it.
What contingency plans are you making for the next few months?
We are lucky in that we’ve got a number of projects in the middle of post and even a couple starting over the course of April and May so our immediate challenge is to finish these.
Looking at the rest of the year beyond June it’s difficult to gauge how quickly production will ramp up. We’re in talks with clients and potential clients to get a handle on new schedules and are making a series of Plan Bs and Plan Cs in terms of our capex and expansion plans.
Luckily Fulwell 73 is pitching and getting new projects financed even now so we will have a steady stream of projects needing post over the course of the year which will serve as a cashflow cushion.
If you have young children, how are you managing keeping them entertained/educated while you work?
I’ve got my wife and five-year-old daughter and we’re all sharing a London flat so it’s been important to be able to say ‘Look I’ve got to make lunch and look after my child for an hour’ and for your colleagues to accept and us as a company to encourage this.
Keeping a good work/life balance and making this crazy time work for all people in your household is vital. That may mean you get me and my daughter wanting to show off her new Lego plane on a group video call and that’s great because it puts a smile on everyone’s face.
What advice do you have for home working?
I recommend dressing for the office and trying to make your own home office set up – even if it means converting your bedroom for eight hours a day. For me creating an office environment helps me concentrate and also helps to differentiate ‘work time and ‘personal time’.
We encourage all of our team members to take downtime seriously. Our mental wellbeing is as important as not getting struck down with coronavirus and being stuck in often (let’s face it, it’s London) cramped conditions for long periods of time is a challenge.
To that end Fulwell 73 have signed up for a remote counselling and therapy service for all of their staff.
For me personally a walk in Clapham Common every day is an important part of my routine.
What are you watching and reading and listening to sustain you through this time?
I’ve just started [Thomas Pynchon’s] Gravity’s Rainbow – that’s a good book to take your mind to completely different places and people. Otherwise it’s lighter entertainment – re-watching Fleabag, Succession and Peep Show and not watching the news on a daily basis.
What positive change might this bring to the industry?
It’s been eye-opening how effective video conference meetings are – especially one-to-one. I will certainly do more of those and not spend 30 minutes in an Uber or on the tube going to and from a meeting.
Additionally, the last weeks have proven companies of all sizes can still run with no one at the office. I hope this will encourage more people to shift to a mix of working from home and the office and allow us to adjust our life/work balance. There is no point in being at your desk in central London at 9am when you’ve got calls with LA all evening - stay at home, have brunch and start work later!