What exactly is a “Creative Director?” It’s quite the ambiguous term, encompassing a range of potential responsibilities depending on the industry and individual company.
Generally, a creative director is the person who makes high-level creative decisions and guides the team with that vision to create the necessary deliverables. But, due to the nature of small teams and creative work, the creative director is usually also involved in the actual writing, filming, or designing of a project.
Though the title “Creative Director” means something a little different in every shop, there are some common qualities that you need to serve your team and clients well.
1. Comfort in Ambiguity
Creative work so often begins in gray area. The client isn’t quite sure what they want, but they know what they don’t want. The tone feels elusive. A committee of executives continues to argue over one line in a script. A good creative director will treat those unknowns as an opportunity to find the right concept. And, when they do, that’s when the really incredible work happens.
2. A passion for the technical side of the craft
Though it is possible, it is pretty darn difficult to direct a crew of producers and set hands and sound guys when you don’t actually know what you’re doing, technically. So, it’s important to refine your technical skills at every level of the process. Like anything, it’s a practice that has to be cultivated over time. You don’t reach a stopping point where you can’t grow anymore. And, you need to be well versed in the various ways you can wield technical skill to solve the same client problem in a different way. Because the technical side of the work that happens on set and in post-production is often the solution.
3. A relentless work ethic
Can’t stop, won’t stop. You have to work hard. There’s not a secret or a shortcut. If you don’t work hard, your crew won’t respect you. And, if you don’t work hard, you can’t do the job. Plain and simple. Being a creative director isn’t pulling a Don Draper and chain-smoking and staring out of a window until inspiration strikes. It’s about working through the process. And, that’s because all of the best ideas come out of the work itself.
4. A creative energy that invites inclusion and participation
A creative director must be able to lead in a way that energizes the team and cultivates a sense of collaboration. The best ideas are refined through process and working with other creatives. That means more than just listening to everyone’s ideas. It’s making sure they actually feel heard. Though this is always a work in progress, the work of a creative director is only as good as their ability to position their team and crew for success in execution.
5. The ability to visualize a solution quickly
Visualize what matters. That’s what we do at Launch Media. But, it is also important to visualize what matters in a timely manner. Our clients sometimes operate on a tight turnaround, and we need to deliver high caliber creative work within those time constraints. To do this, a creative director needs to be constantly taking in visual references from other filmmakers to ensure the creative process is efficient. It’s about constantly bettering your craft. Improvement doesn’t just happen. It takes intentional effort each day.