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Bossing It: Kai-Lu Hsiung on Working in a “Fair, Diverse, and Cohesive Manner”

Bossing It 198 Add to collection

Kai-Lu Hsiung, RSA Films’ global managing director tells LBB why remote filming is both a blessing and a curse, and why the best ideas will always win

Bossing It: Kai-Lu Hsiung on Working in a “Fair, Diverse, and Cohesive Manner”

PEP Group is a proud supporter of LBB. Over the upcoming months, as part of the sponsorship of LBB’s Bossing It channel, we will be spending time with some of the personalities at the forefront of the global production industry today. 


RSA’s global managing director Kai-Lu Hsiung’s career started far away from adland. With a background in Fine Art, she taught the subject at Harrow Art College and also worked in publishing, helping to set up Deadline Magazine. Attracted by the creativity and challenges posed by the industry, she first joined RSA Films in 1992 on the production side before moving onto the path that led her to the global managing director post in 2020. With almost three decades of experience at one of the top companies under her belt, Kai-Lu is uniquely positioned to discuss the changes the industry has seen and the changes it still desperately needs to make if it’s to continue to capture our imagination.



LBB> In your experience, do you believe that brand CMOs need a better understanding of the production process? 


Kai-Lu> I think that learning about any aspect of the industry is always going to be a benefit to everyone involved. The mystique has been taken out of a lot of the production process as anyone can make a film on a mobile phone now. Last year we produced a short film, written and directed by Joe Wright for Samsung, all shot on a mobile phone; but it still required an incredibly unique story to engage the audience, plus a stellar cast, music, etc. The components are still the same, it’s just the crews that have got a lot smaller. But I do think there are so many other skill sets that enhance and embellish creative ideas that need to be understood and appreciated, for example, the editing process and the choice of music. Both are so integral to creativity and often not given enough time or attention in the post schedule.


LBB> In terms of the pandemic, do you think it is going to lead to a permanent revolution in remote shooting?


Kai-Lu> It’s definitely made it more of a common option. But there are certain scenarios where you cannot beat the personal interaction of being there. We have had several large-scale shoots abroad where the client and agency were not in attendance, but all of our crew were. And waiting for approvals on a Zoom link when talent is wanting to move on to the next scene can be very frustrating. It can definitely slow the process down and stop the spontaneity you can get from fast decision making. 


LBB> Do you think the pandemic has made people look at the way we do things in a different way? Has there been any change?


Kai-Lu> People are so more willing to consider remote shooting and not take so many people to a film set. Both of which have a positive effect on the environment, so all good there. It’s about trying to find that balance for a shoot, yes you want people there to make decisions, but how can we streamline it.


LBB> You spoke to LBB earlier in December 2020 about developing a more cohesive global operation at RSA . How has that grown in 2021 and what has it meant for the business? 


Kai-Lu> We’ve been able to consolidate and act as a cohesive global team rather than separate siloed offices. We started by redefining and establishing new departments within the company. It’s helped us to better use our collective experience to work on projects in the best way for the client and the production. Sharing specialist resources between us has been a really unique way to problem solve. We’re a big company by name but we move very quickly. 


We also hired a fantastic new President for the US market. Luke Ricci joined us from Bullitt/Directors Bureau in December and having such a creative heavyweight and insightful leader is already proving to be a brilliant addition to the team. And we have a couple of big announcements pending that I can’t mention just yet. 

LBB> The industry is reshaping with both brands and agencies in-housing at the same time. What do you think that means for the business? 


Kai-Lu> It’s an exciting time to be in the business as there are fewer rules and restrictions; as long as the common goal is the same of working in a fair, diverse, and cohesive manner then the best ideas will win. Whether they are created by a client, agency, director, or post house. As more and more people are able to make things it means the really great stuff has to rise to the top. You really need work to stand out these days. 


LBB> What are your predictions for the next five years in the production environment? 


Kai-Lu> More long form branded content where audiences are fully engaged with great stories.  


LBB> Do you think there's any loss of continuity with the amount of content brands are creating now? 


Kai-Lu> I think a really strong visual identity for a brand is where they can then explore all the different media opportunities. It does bewilder me sometimes though, how many different parties will be involved in one simple brand execution. I’m all for streamlining the business and crafting rather than rushing.

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PEP Group, Tue, 11 Jan 2022 12:37:55 GMT