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Meet Assembly, a Post House with Technology and Infrastructure at its Core

Company Profiles 285 Add to collection

Founder Art Williams speaks to LBB’s Addison Capper about hiring talent from the likes of Chimney and The Mill to launch a business with Oliver Hicks and Colin Moneymaker

Meet Assembly, a Post House with Technology and Infrastructure at its Core

Assembly is a post production studio that launched in the US in November 2021. It's the brainchild of Art Williams, Oliver Hicks and Colin Moneymaker. 

Art is a serial entrepreneur with a career spanning digital media, entertainment, and marketing. He has a background in business strategy and development, and was involved in the success of agencies such as Spiral Media, Agency.com, Organic, Arena Media Networks, and Deluxe Entertainment. 

Oliver founded and chaired North Six, a global production collective servicing brand and agencies across the content creation and marketing arena. He is also a seasoned producer with over two decades of experience spanning the entertainment landscape.  

Colin, Assembly's managing director, previously worked at The Mill. 

Key hires upon launch included colourists Lez Rudge (previously of Chimney) and Sean Dunckley (previously of Light Iron), who have worked with the likes of Spike Lee, Darren Aronofsky, and Wes Anderson, and VFX supervisor John McIntosh (previously of The Mill). Assembly is outspokenly "committed to advocating for talent from historically underrepresented groups". 

LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Art to find out more. 



LBB> What are the foundations of Assembly? When did you first begin thinking about launching a post production business?



Art> The idea around starting a post production business started late in 2020. The obvious approach in the middle of the pandemic was around how we can create flexible workflows and work environments to meet the needs of artists and clients working remotely. Knowing that the pandemic was going to come to an end at some point, we were really focused on the benefits to the individual of having the flexibility to work collaboratively at a facility or having the option of working just as easily from a remote location.  



LBB> You have launched it with Oliver Hicks and Colin Moneymaker - what is your connection to these two people and how did it come to be that you went into business together?



Art> Colin and I have known each other professionally for a while and I had always respected his approach to producing regardless of whether it was colour, VFX, animation, etc. He has a calming approach and great expertise which is important in building a team around. Oliver and I have been serial entrepreneurs for a long time and were introduced a few years ago. I think we both have shared values in investing in the future and making sure that a company holds itself to high standards when it comes to corporate responsibility. We hit it off immediately when we met and began to lay the foundation for what has become Assembly. 



LBB> You're a serial entrepreneur but I think this is your first venture into commercial post production - what about the industry tempted you to launch a business?



Art> It is my first investment into post production. However, I have been around it for a long time. Prior to starting my internet agency in the early 1990s I had worked in production as a client-side producer at MasterCard. The changes in post production with the launch of products such as Avid pushed me toward the potential of digital media. I started my company out of Rutt Video and did part-time production work to pay the bills. After spending the next 15 years running several of my own start-ups, I ended up taking on a strategy role at Deluxe Entertainment in 2011 which reintroduced me to the end-to-end deliverable of film and television work. I was intrigued by the company’s offerings and wanted to learn. I have been hooked ever since. 



LBB> Tell me about the business and how you have shaped it. How is it unique in the market? What are your main aims and ambitions?



Art> Assembly is growing into a full-service post production company. Today we offer dailies, offline, DI/colour, and VFX services currently based in two studios in New York City and remote. One of the things we did differently was to create a great technology core team and build an infrastructure to meet the needs of what we wanted the company to be. I think a lot of companies set up shop with a creative talent mindset to start. We wanted to build a technology foundation where creatives will see our company as the best place to execute their work. Having the infrastructure for artists and clients to excel and collaborate without struggling with technology upgrades is a smart play. It has worked in other industries I have invested in over the years. We are about having the best for our clients and our staff. Our philosophy is to draw the best artists and clients to Assembly. Our goal for growth is to continue expanding our services to other areas based on our clients’ needs. We will also be moving beyond our New York footprint starting with Los Angeles later in the year. 



LBB> You’ve touched upon this but did Covid-19 shape the way that you set up and launched Assembly as a post-production business?



Art> Covid was a big influence on why we did the things the way we did them out of the gate. We always had a belief that in order to grow to meet the market needs you can’t be tied down to the number of suites you have. We wanted to be able to grow to other locations or let artists and clients work from home. You must think beyond brick and mortar just like every other industry has. There are challenges to do this in our industry but if you address the solution as you build your infrastructure then the options are endless. Covid helped foster change for everyone because it became an existential issue for both companies and clients – if we all didn’t change our thinking content creation would have halted. 



LBB> You've hired some big names from well-known post production companies - what was the hiring process like before launch and how would you like to scale over time?



Art> When you are a new brand in the market you have to develop trust and do things in a way that are confidence building. I think that is why we built a lot out and tested over and over before making a big push for talent. As the talent saw the type of investments we made in the company, the environment we created to work in and the early work we started to produce it built confidence in joining the company. We are focused on being deliberate with our hiring – it must be the right fit for the artists and us. A lot of work is being done remotely and it requires a lot of trust and teamwork in order to succeed.



LBB> Technologically, how is the company run? Is everything in the cloud? 



Art> More or less, we run with the cloud being the focus. I think of the rooms at our locations no differently than when an artist or client works from home. They are all touchpoints in cloud-based workflows. It isn’t acceptable to have the remote experience be any less effective than in working in our studios. It is key to what we have developed and core to our business model. 



LBB> In the launch release it says that you are "committed to advocating for talent from historically underrepresented groups" - can you tell me a bit more about that please?



Art> As a white male business owner I have to be honest about what has happened in the post production industry over the years – it is full of a lot of guys that look like me. In other industries I have been involved with such as working in the digital agency world – from the inception there was great diversity. I think that happened because the barrier to entry in the 1990s was pretty low – meaning talent was scarce and we never looked at someone’s race, gender, religion or orientation – the industry was created by a lot of progressive 20-somethings who were happy to have you regardless of who you were. It was probably the first industry that started out that way and it was awesome. Look at the innovation and growth in that industry over the past 25 years. Having a diverse team of talent brings all sorts of new perspectives that can only make us better. I am really happy with the diversity we have from the onset of Assembly and look to continue to create opportunities for those communities that are underrepresented – it will make us better than we are. 



LBB> With that in mind, I feel like the post industry has a unique issue when it comes to diversity because quite particular skills are needed when it comes to being an artist - there are a select amount of student courses feeding the industry. What are your thoughts on that? 



Art> I agree. There are certainly efforts being made via Made In NY and other organisations. I think in general we are doing a poor job with how we prioritise education. As someone who grew up in the New York City public school system after you graduated high school you either went to college or maybe continued with vocational training which circulated around manufacturing or building. We need to connect diverse communities at an early age to not just STEM programs but to specific industries such as ours. There is very little exposure to the jobs in post production unless you continue your education beyond high school. With the growth of content creation for the multitude of channels that exist today, we need to reach inner city communities to create opportunities, or this industry will be short handed in the future. 



LBB> Which projects so far are you particularly proud of and why? 



Art> We recently finished doing VFX work on Halle Berry’s film Bruised. Like so many productions that had Covid throw the project a curveball, this film overcame those challenges and came out great. There is something satisfying in playing a part in a successful project that overcame adversity and had such great success. 



LBB> What does the rest of the year hold for Assembly?



Art> We are really excited with the number of studios, brands and agencies that have already come to work with us. Our goal is to continue to do what we are doing. We will continue to grow smart, bring in more and more talent and strive to be the best at what we do. New York is rolling and LA is next for us. 



LBB> Any parting thoughts?



Art> Have fun. We get to work on the most amazing content in the world with our clients. It is a privilege to do what we do every day. It’s important to enjoy the journey. 


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Assembly, Thu, 03 Feb 2022 15:57:58 GMT