My telephone rings.
“Benson, are you available tomorrow morning? We need an extra hand on set filming that teaser trailer.”
Agreeing to help out on that shoot was my baptism into the weird world of Serif Creative. I had been working with them for about two weeks but hadn’t really developed my bearings for where the company was heading. I soon realized that Serif moved in whichever direction it could in order to operate creatively; like hunter-gatherers following a herd of wild animals
The Serif team issued not one complaint through the grueling 16-hour shoot; in fact, the entire team moved like a well-oiled-machine, transitioning from one scene to the next, directing the actors, manning the jibs, and effortlessly planning each shot with the utmost attention to detail.
I was flabberghasted. Anxiety flowed through me like an electric current as I tried to imagine the final product, an issue that clearly didn’t plague the rest of team; it was clear that this was the environment in which Serif thrives, an environment of creative potential.
A week later the trailer was cut and delivered. After watching the final product, I was reminded of why I first got involved with Serif in the first place: they have the ability to deliver beautiful creative, and I wanted in to find out how they do it.
Although we haven’t had any 16-hour shoots lately, Serif has maintained its level of creative output. Since I started working with Serif, the question I get asked most frequently is, “So what exactly do you guys do there?” Usually I have something witty to say, because honestly it’s a little difficult to explain; but the following is an honest college try at explaining what often seems unexplainable.
A typical day usually starts at the office around 9 a.m. To-go coffee cups litter the office like beer cans in a dorm room; it can be a struggle for novices to find their correct cup, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it recently. After everyone is sufficiently caffeinated, Doug lays out the plan of action. There’s probably music playing, accompanied by the sound of freight trains rumbling by.
Each task performed is threaded together across the team. “Name two adjectives that you want to describe this campaign” (Doug literally just said this to Justin and I). Right now, we are brainstorming a new project’s creative direction. Computer screens are being turned to face us, “what do you think about this color red? How about portraits like these?” Doug is patching every affirmated example into a mood board that we will draw further inspiration from. This is what I believe sets the stage for Serif’s output: dedicated time for free form creative inspiration. We also have a chalkboard used for brainstorming, and a ping-pong table to break up the discussion if we hit a wall.
The most interesting aspect of these discussions is the constant shooting down of lame-duck ideas. At first I was a little unsettled at how an idea I brought to the table could be viciously murdered right in front of my eyes; but thats all changed. At Serif, open honesty reigns supreme when developing creative. If it’s a bad idea, it’s a bad a idea. It’s not a personal attack, it’s just a bad idea, and bad ideas come out of everyone’s heads. This ability to forgo social conflict barriers and cut bad concepts early allows the truly great creative to get the air and sunlight it needs.
After we have a general idea for the creative, we move into research/inspiration mode. Everyone does their own thing when it comes to this part. We comb the internet for benchmark projects, search for campaigns that did or didn’t work, read blogs and news articles about the industry at hand, etc. This is generally wrapped up with a large discussion about what we’ve found and how to best incorporate it into a creative strategy.
Then the real work begins: coordinating shoots and meetings, developing graphic design, copywriting, creating an online presence, working with vendors, etc. On any given project, that “etc.” can contain literally anything; for instance, Doug just ordered $250 worth of Chipotle burritos (we’re not quite sure why, yet). The team runs full-steam until all project deliverables are in the hands of our client.
So there you have it, a very general overview of the process. Honestly, if I went into anymore detail we would all get rather bored; I had to take two ping pong breaks just to get through this part of the entry. Annnnnnnd now that I’m done, I think I’ll take another. Search our Instagram hashtag #SerifHouse for more photos of our space.