Magazine article New Zealand Management

PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Project Management by Any Other Name; Project Management Is No Longer the Bastion of IT Professionals. All Managers Find Themselves in a Project Role at Some Stage. Robert Sarkies, Director and Co-Writer of New Zealand Films Scarfies and out of the Blue, Sees Clear Parallels between the Role of Film Director and Project Manager

Magazine article New Zealand Management

PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Project Management by Any Other Name; Project Management Is No Longer the Bastion of IT Professionals. All Managers Find Themselves in a Project Role at Some Stage. Robert Sarkies, Director and Co-Writer of New Zealand Films Scarfies and out of the Blue, Sees Clear Parallels between the Role of Film Director and Project Manager

Article excerpt

Byline: Ellen Read

How do you bring a disparate group of technicians, creatives, financiers, producers - not to mention highly strung actors - together to create something that will resonate with an audience and, most importantly, reap a return on investment?

Dunedin film-maker Robert Sarkies, who came to nationwide prominence with Scarfies, says it comes down to knowing precisely what you are trying to achieve, communicating this effectively and monitoring progress closely.

Which could make for a very short article... except that he also has advice on how to achieve this and what to do if things go pear shaped.

"The most important thing is to know what you're making. That's essentially how I operate - which sounds really obvious but, weirdly, a lot of times when things go wrong in the film industry, it's often because the person at the heart of the project doesn't quite know what they're making. Or they haven't clearly communicated it to the people who are making it for them," the film-maker says.

He can't remember who said 'film-making is like an artist painting a canvas with 200 people holding the paint brush' but it resonated strongly leading him to the conclusion that his job as a director (aka the project manager) is to "know what I'm going to make, what I'm going to paint in that analogy, and to inspire everyone else to be painting with the same strokes".

Sarkies says from experience that if he gets those two things right, he generally ends up making the film he set out to make - no matter how many people he's working with.

Except that it's not always that easy and, experience again has taught him that if things derail then it's usually down to a communication problem. Something he always blames himself for: "communication is always a two way thing but if I'm supposed to be communicating my vision to my team and a member of my team didn't get an aspect of that communication then how can I blame them."

Despite the need for people to 'get' Sarkies' vision, he doesn't seek out colleagues who simply tell him what he wants to hear and do what he wants them to do. His aim is quite different. It is to find collaborators who can listen to what his vision of the film project is and be inspired, and feed that inspiration back into the project. …

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