CAA’s Bryan Lourd urges US execs to ‘bother to understand’ creative process

Bryan Lourd

CAA chairman Bryan Lourd has urged US studio executives to “bother to understand” the creative process in order to forge stronger partnerships with writers and actors, as he reflected on the ongoing impact of the US strikes.

Lourd has been a visible supporter of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes over recent months, including attending picket lines, and he used a discussion at the RTS Cambridge Convention to urge a “realignment” between creatives and execs.

“There is a problem with the system, there is a misalignment,” he said, during the conversation with UK actor Emma Thompson.

“The strike is having a terrible effect not just on the members of the guilds, but also on all the people around them,” he said, adding that the strike had been “born from a misalignment” between the creative and executive sides of the business.

“What I do know as an observer for a long time is that there is an urgency on all our parts to take these relationships and partnerships much more seriously, in a way that has not been true before.

Bryan Lourd & Emma Thompson

“If we don’t do that, then there will be a knock-on effect on what gets seen on screem, how people get compensated and the types of worlds that get built that. Once this is over, there is a healing process for partnerships that has to occur or we will destroy what is an amazing industry.”

Creative & executive capabilities

Thompson added that it was “dumb” to think that creatives couldn’t be executives, as well as recognising that some executives could have creative capabilities.

Lourd, whose company was recently sold to luxury goods firm Artemis for $7bn, added that there is “a responsibility on all sides of the equation” to understand each other’s challenges.

“For executives, man, when you actually bother to understand how difficult it is to create from nothing then to pull an army of people together to get it done, you get better results for your audience and your customers.

“And you get a much better experience because of that extra effort. Not to reprimand anyone but we have slipped into an exec mentality that is all about mergers and acquisitions and data and analytics. The people who over index on that lose the great opportunity this industry offers.”

Lourd also urged executives to “have the guts to pick” shows on instinct, adding: “The thing that’s dangerous about this time, all the talk about the algorithms and analysis of formulas of what we all want to see… it is not not true.

“Individual ideas are the things that grow and are what makes for a hit, it’s what drives our businesses. When we forget that – and sometimes the business people, a lot of whom have infiltrated our world, confuse you and make you second guess – it looks like we’re meant to flock towards something familiar or that we’ve seen before.

“Often it is the executive who has the guts to pick a show and give confidence to the creator that gives the [show] the [ability] to resonate to our time and not just locally, but globally.”

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