Future of Production: We need to be more than faster, better, and cheaper

Since the launch of MSQ Source, Head of MSQ Global Studios Morgan Cox talks about how AI is revolutionising their production offering

By Morgan Cox

Technologies and smarter working practices have levelled the playing field so that “Faster, better and cheaper” is now a conventional expectation of the production industry. And everyone is on message about technology and creative approaches to production working in harmony to give us all a brighter future.

Indeed, Cannes was full of brilliant examples of how, when the right balance is struck, audiences can get very excited about the work we produce.

What was once territorial distrust between tech and craft is now far more harmonious, opening up new spaces and opportunities for more experimentation and more time for crafting vs low skill churn as automation levels increase.

But you can occasionally still detect a nervousness in the eyes of agency leaders – particularly on the subject of AI – which tells you that the organisational reality of getting the above to work on a consistent basis is going to need some significant cultural and organisational changes.

The biggest factor for production, therefore, lies in establishing the ambition and practices for the space that we have created.

NASA, the godparent of faster, better, cheaper approach, did so by moving from one-off risky rockets to re-useable space shuttles and the Humans on Mars ambition, collaborating with the best minds in the commercial sector to support that goal. As a direct result, they saved space exploration from cold war decline.

So what is our Mars mission!? What will attract the best diverse future talent to our industry so that we in all our guises – from in-house studios to virtual collectives – can continue to be a vital innovative partner for ambitious brands?

First, we need to build on what got us here: innovation and humility. A voracious appetite for innovation – rapidly adopting entertainment and other industry advances and making them accessible to brands. This is what’s made Virtual Production thrive in recent years – moving quickly from only-for-blockbusters to being accessible as an option for content campaigns as the skills and hardware proliferate, massively reducing entry costs so that our ingenious teams can make it work alongside conventional shooting practices.

Then there is the humility of producers, business owners, client-side studio leads and directors to constantly collaborate outside their immediate teams and avoid an echo chamber view of best practice. I firmly believe this is deep rooted in the DNA of all production people – the ease and enthusiasm in which we create new teams and collaborations and allow ourselves to be challenged. But how we create and produce is being tested further by creators, tech companies and of course AI – and we must once again resist putting up barriers and instead embrace our future competition. The better we do that, the better we will be.

Finally, I think we need to consider two very important areas that sit alongside ‘faster, better, cheaper’ no longer as a nice-to-haves but as essentials. Namely sustainability and cultural diversity. Both are vital to the future relevance of in-house production teams and the clients we serve. At MSQ, that’s meant investing in a new team to develop this out globally, MSQ Source.

MSQ Source’s mission is to connect our own in-house teams and our clients’ briefs with the best production, directing, creative writing and creator talent in over 130 countries globally, so that in the process of developing content we are using talent who are representative of the diverse cultures our clients are trying to connect with. New technologies mean we’re able to deliver more culturally relevant content with the same rigour and quality as before, faster, cheaper (there are those words again), but also crucially with less people and less travel, meaning a fraction of the carbon footprint too.

This I believe is the future of production. Generating a balance that brings faster, better, cheaper, more sustainable, more culturally diverse… retaining the ethos of what’s made production a brilliant industry to work in, but immeasurably enriched by extending our in-house teams virtually to collaborate with a far more diverse pool than could ever be achieved from our international hubs alone.

The foundations are in place – but as we enter a brave new world, we need a whole lot more than that.

Morgan Cox is the Head of Dynamic Content and Global Studios at MSQ


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