Julia Weichinger is the GPN’s General Manager and Owner. For the past years she has worked very closely with leading production houses in London, Berlin, Hamburg and Paris, connecting their producers with independent service production companies all around the world. As the Global Production Network goes tabletop, we ask Julia about some behind the scenes of this decision and the key values behind the whole network.
Jakub Laskus: What is GPN? How does it work and operate?
Julia Weichinger: The idea of GPN is to make our client’s life easier. If a producer needs to shoot abroad, in a country he has never been in before, GPN is there to assist with a contact. GPN provides a safety net for our clients, getting together the best people from around the globe for their next production. We are every client’s expanded production arm.
At GPN, we provide a comprehensive network that simplifies the process of fulfilling various needs. Each company that we represent has a proven track record of satisfied customers, which demonstrates our deep knowledge of them. Although the companies within our network may compete, we believe that we can all benefit from stronger relationships. We understand that our clients may have specific loyalties, and we value and respect those relationships. In fact, we love working with loyal clients because the longer we collaborate, the smoother the process becomes. Even when faced with high pressure situations, our established relationships ensure that we know each other well. Ultimately, we strive to bring this collaborative and supportive approach to the market.
A few weeks ago, we expanded our network by partnering with the top-notch tabletop studios globally, aiming to enhance our offerings in this field.
GPN was established two decades ago, primarily catering to the American market. I joined the team 11 years ago, and since then, I have come to realize that clients’ needs and preferences vary across continents. Therefore, we also perceive ourselves as cultural translators to bridge the gap and cater to the diverse requirements of our clients.
Jakub: If I could clarify one thing, what do you mean by clients? Are you thinking about agencies, marketers, or both?
Julia: We serve a diverse range of clients who seek our expertise and dependability. These clients include production houses, agencies, clients directly, TV stations, and long-format productions.
When a producer is shooting in a new country for the first time, they may feel unsure about the best course of action. They can reach out to their colleagues for advice, but if they need to shoot in a place like Egypt, not everyone may have current experience or knowledge. While one can search online, the plethora of adverts can be overwhelming. In such cases, our clients can contact us and ask, “Julia, who is your partner in Egypt?” I can provide them with an introduction to the best-suited company that matches their requirements. I can also provide information about their expertise, client history, and other relevant details.
This approach can save our clients a significant amount of time and money that they would have spent on extensive research. By providing a quick and effective solution, our clients have access to the best studios and production houses and do not need to invest their own efforts in researching.
Jakub: Ok, yeah, that makes sense. Security is a necessity from the client’s perspective. What was the intention behind bringing tabletop studios to the group?
Julia: There are two points. One was the fascination of tabletop itself, because it’s such an interesting topic that you can find everywhere. You have no idea what’s actually behind, but when you get a look, it’s a whole new world opening up. It’s really very mouthwatering, you know? If you open up a showreel… I would like to take a bath in that! Really, I’m serious! I can smell it. But, yeah, you really create emotions, you know? And to really create emotions is so thrilling.
Jakub: I can definitely relate! That was my personal reason for starting a business. But I believe there are other reasons as well – how about business and market structure? Because this is something I presume affected this decision.
Julia: The second reason naturally follows the first. I believe that without inspiration, I lack the motivation to pursue something.
However, we started receiving inquiries from clients asking if we have a network of tabletop professionals. Initially, we had to decline such requests, but as the market evolved, we noticed a significant influx of new graduates who lacked practical experience, especially when it came to shooting abroad. And since recession also hit the U.S. market clients can not always afford to keep the project at home but instead need less cost intense alternatives from abroad that guarantee to fill in their high expectations – so here we are. We recognized the need to assist them in finding the right professionals, thus avoiding any unpleasant surprises while working abroad.
Jakub: Are there any differences between regular production houses and the tabletop studios, which are, to my understanding, a little bit different in terms of what they’re selling, what sort of services they are providing? And if there are such differences, how do they affect your selling and representation process?
Julia: Many production companies place a strong emphasis on location, as their operations are akin to a moving circus.
Service production companies are helping the storytellers of the world to visualize their stories in the best way possible – in all kinds of formats. However, your business operates differently, with remote work being a non-issue and a unique representation process. It’s not appropriate to compare the two approaches since the clientele also differs.
Your part is taking care of the holy product – which is for the client the most important thing! GPN tabletop is there to assist our existing clientele and new clientele.
Nothing stays the same, everything changes and we also move to the next level of production.
Jakub: Sometimes, as Bites, we are collaborating with production houses from Poland and we’re telling them to use our offer and our competences to bring services to Poland. It helps quite often, because our expertise is extraordinary and sometimes there are projects with a significant live-action part and a tabletop part and then, at the end of the day, together we are creating a unique value. We work together.
Julia: This is exactly the idea behind GPN: We have the best people of the industry gathering and we all benefit from that! I love to hear that, thank you Jakub!
Jakub: I think that the local production houses can benefit from having a local GPN tabletop partner in the same country, granting kind of, you know, a bundle offer. This is something that works in our case.
Julia: Exactly! And not only us but especially all clients are benefitting from our bonding system, a collective of the best people in our industry.
Jakub: Can you observe any changes in clients’ approach? Do you think they’ve gotten more conservative as a result of the pandemic, inflation?
Julia: Well, everything is always changing and so yes, a new generation of clients is emerging. These clients are unsure about where to start and how to get the best results, which is where GPN comes in. GPN is an attractive option for these clients because it can save them both time and money. We offer recommendations that do not cost them anything, and they are free to try them out. This is the essence of GPN, which helps clients who need to shoot in a country they have never been to before, making their lives easier. We provide expert advice on which locations and partners would be best suited for specific shots or boards.
Jakub: If you were to point out some trends for 2023 when it comes to the market, what would they be?
Julia: Over the last 25 years, since I am part of the advertising industry, we have consistently demonstrated our ability to recover from setbacks and develop new strategies, setting us apart from many other industries. Our remarkable flexibility and agility enable us to handle intense pressure that would overwhelm others. Once again, we have the opportunity to showcase our adaptability, swift comprehension, and ability to simplify our clients’ lives. By doing so, we not only run a successful business but also make a meaningful impact on our clients’ well-being. It really is that simple.
Let’s continue like that in 2023.