ABOUT PRODUCTION FOR THE PEOPLE
Carolyn Chen is rewriting the rules for how everyone from big companies to small nonprofits and independent businesses go about telling their stories. She’s looking to make it easier for them to access the kind of sophisticated storytelling techniques that were formerly the province of deep-pocketed corporate clients and big global advertisers.
That’s the proposition her company, Production for the People, offers: in an era when almost anyone can call themselves a content creator, it takes skill, experience and deep connections to be able to create content that connects with audiences, conveys a strategic message and properly reflects a brand, a company or an organization’s ethos, values and message.
And that’s what PFTP is designed to do: provide quality narrative and brand storytelling to companies of all sizes, from global ad agencies to NGOs, publishers, PR firms, non-profits and small businesses. A minority and woman-owned business, PFTP has produced a wide range of video content for companies both big and small since opening its doors in 2012.
Its credits include a series of short online videos for Allstate designed to get people inspired to become agents for Leo Burnett. Another PFTP-produced series focusing on designers and artists with a love for fabric (including Leesa Evans, one of the hottest costume designers working in features today) was picked up by P&G for its Downy brand. On the other end of the spectrum, PFTP produced a fascinating two-minute doc for Aardvark Press, one of the few remaining custom letterpress printers in Los Angeles.
One of PFTP’s most successful relationships has been with Fast Company, which brought them in to produce branded short online documentaries for American Express and Virgin Atlantic. The videos were designed to share solutions, insight and inspiration for budding entrepreneurs. Among the companies profiled in these projects were eyewear innovator Warby Parker, Fitbit creator New Deal Design and TaskRabbit, the online marketplace for your day-to-day ‘to do’ list.
What distinguishes PFTP is the depth of brand and marketing knowledge that its principals possess. Carolyn, for example, has brought her visual style and honest, emotionally driven storytelling to TV commercials, features, and brand content for over two decades. An award-winning cinematographer, she grew up with a camera in her hands, roaming lower Manhattan. After beginning her formal photography training at RISD, she was drawn to more narrative storytelling and completed her education in filmmaking at NYU.
Since launching her advertising career, Carolyn has directed over 200 commercials for top ad agencies, working with a diverse list of marketers and brands that includes P&G, Bank of America, AT&T, Nike, McDonald’s, Pfizer, General Mills, Walmart and Unilever.
In addition to the aforementioned projects, PFTP was invited to Cincinnati last year as a thought leader to talk about the business model with global production execs at Procter & Gamble.
Carolyn founded PFTP because she felt limited by the bureaucracy, expense and creative limitations that went with the traditional ad-making process. Now, with Production for the People, she’s just a veteran working like a run-and-gun kid, doing great-looking, authentic content for not a whole lot of money in a rapid-growth industry.
The company’s sweet spot is in documentary-style, reality-based storytelling that’s personal, relatable, intimate and accessible. And they’re making it in a way that distances them from the bloated, director-driven model ad agencies and advertisers have relied on for years. Rather, the PFTP approach is one shaped by the multi-tasking content creators that rule YouTube: the writer/producer/director/editor-types whose work is produced in a streamlined fashion yet reflects the quality and taste that defines all that Carolyn does.