Radke’s Scott Mackenzie on Patience and Production
Scott Mackenzie’s passion for and dedication to adland is completely infectious. He has been at one of Toronto’s top production companies, Radke, for 18 of its 20 functioning years, and sits on the board of CPAT, Toronto’s production association, protecting and advocating the best practices and motions for the local industry. And that dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed; he recently picked up the Janet Woods Award at the Bessies, an award that recognises producers who represent creative soul, enthusiasm, stimulating influence and leadership, and who challenge conventional thinking. LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with Scott to learn more...
LBB> How did you first get into commercial production? Happy accident or was it always the plan?
SM> My wife was an exec at the largest production company in North America and introduced me to a director who was willing to give me a break. I remember being asked to check with the agency if we could shoot the spot a certain way which was different from the script. I responded, “Why do we need to ask the agency what they think?”
LBB> When did you join Radke?
SM> Radke has been in business for 20 years – I have been here for 18 of them. I came from television and documentary – producing, PM, assistant directing. I like that experience because it tells me what we really need to execute a job.
LBB> You recently picked up the Janet Woods Award at the Bessies – congrats! How did it feel to win? I know it can be hard to talk about yourself that way, but what traits do you think swung the recognition your way?
SM> It is a producer’s award so it’s great to be recognized by clients and friends. I think I have learned to have patience to wait for the right decisions to be made eventually. Whether agency, production or post, we all work so hard to make the work better. I just start yelling later in the process these days.
LBB> You’re on the board of CPAT (The Commercial Production Association of Toronto) – what does that role entail? Why is it important for you to be involved with the association?
SM> CPAT is an association of production companies, suppliers and individual members who advocate for best practices in our industry. We attempt to be a strong voice in how we interact with our clients and our crews. CPAT is a great part of why we are one of the best and lowest cost markets to shoot in North America.
LBB> What are the big issues and challenges affecting production in Toronto right now?
SM> Cost is the number one challenge – any job can be shot in at least three places in the world. I think we are still the best place to shoot in North America due to locations and excellent crews. Our dollar is 20 percent cheaper – on a $500,000 shoot you save $100,000. That’s pretty unbeatable!
LBB> Radke is part of a bigger group in Toronto - can you tell us about that and how the relationship works?
SM> In the group there are sister production companies as well as a directing collective called Common Good, backed by a full service design, animation and VFX studio, and a fantastic music company called Vapor. We share infrastructure, which helps with the bottom line and lets us be very competitive and put the money where it needs to be.
In Vancouver we have Filmgroup.tv, which is a production service company that services the leading production companies in the world who are looking to take their productions off shore.
LBB> What do you look out for when signing new directors?
SM> We are in the business of creative thinking and it is important that our directors understand the brand and the strategy. I think directing commercials is very much a team sport so I like directors who think the same way.
LBB> Which pieces of recent Radke work have you particularly enjoyed and why?
SM> We have had a good run lately. Michael Clowater did an outstanding launch spot called ‘How to Dad’ that really broke though in a big way. The best thing for me in that spot is his talent direction, a great way to start his directing career with us officially.
LBB> Who are your creative heroes? Who has inspired your career?
SM> Our team here at Radke – Edie Weiss, Miriana DiQuinzio, Scott Smith, Mel Roy and Mitch Roth. We are good people and everyday we prove it I think.
I am inspired by directors who have unique visions that push our industry forward… and Harmony Korine.