Thursday, October 15, 2009

3Questions: Aaron Weber - Executive Producer at Wander Films

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Aaron Weber, an Executive Producer at Wander, a production company and design company.

On the production side they work in short form, commercials and promos - for broadcast and online. Their clients include Nintendo, Yamaha, Apple and online creative community Behance. On the design side, they do a lot of work for the entertainment industry, including the official Charlize Theron website.

As he puts it "being a small company, I wear many hats; overseeing all of our projects, handling day to day tasks to keep the business running smoothly and constantly networking to try and drum up new business. I also occasionally will line produce our individual production projects, which has a whole different set of challenges to keep things interesting."

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

AW: In a very roundabout way! I have always had that entrepreneurial spirit, but was never sure where it would find its place in my life. I went to the School of Visual Arts for computer art with a focus on special effects and motion graphics. By the end of my junior year I was so burned out from sitting in dark rooms and staring at computer screens for days on end that I began to think about other things I may enjoy doing.

My senior year I produced and lead up the visual FX effort on a senior thesis, titled Wander. I immediately fell in love with the producing process. Seeing a project from inception to delivery was much more appealing to me and after graduation I moved to Los Angeles with the director of Wander, Joshua Clark, who was now my business partner, in our newly formed company, Wander. I had no connections and a short film, which was doing great in the festival circuit, but was not what potential commercial clients want to see. There were some very lean times early on and out of necessity I took an assistant job at CAA.

I realized very quickly that this was not a good fit for me and left with a new energy to make Wander work - which at that time meant generating just enough money to support Joshua and I. We conveniently landed a very large, well timed, design project which allowed us to save up some money. We made the decision to set aside enough to shoot 3 spec commercials (Carls Jr. - Phone Call, Nikon - Closer Look and Fedex - Accent) for our commercial reel and then began getting out there with the work, which by the time the spec spots were completed also included a few client projects (Yamaha - Acceleration, Behance - Invitation to Creativity). Since the completion of the spec spots I have been fortunate in meeting some great clients, but I still look at myself as being at the beginning of my career.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

AW: For me, timing is a big part of success. It is being in the right place at the right time - with the right work and skills. Only some of those elements are in your control and we were just finishing up our commercial reel as the world's economy began falling apart. This has greatly changed how companies advertise and spend their marketing dollars. Some of this has worked to our advantage, with some companies opting for direct to client work, and circumventing the age old advertising agency model, but it has also been really hurting us in the work that is handled through ad agencies - which is quite a bit. Traditionally, this is where the majority of a commercial production companies work would come from, so we have had to be creative in the work we are seeking, who we are seeking it from and even to some degree, the type of work we are looking to be a part of.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to start their own production company?

AW: I would suggest learning to collaborate very early on in the creative process. No single individual can do it all by themselves, so it important to focus on what you enjoy and become the best at it that you possibly can. Find others whose skills compliment yours and surround yourself with the most talented people you can.

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