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Producing Tomorrow's Producers: Yohan Ungar on the Need for Passion

Production Company
Paris, France
Birth LX luxury division founder on the importance of people and culture, why anticipation is key and being touched by powerful messages

Yohan Ungar has been navigating in the industry for 20 years, starting out as a music video and  commercial director before moving behind the mirror at the behest of leading production company Birth founded by Hugo Legrand Nathan. 

Having become a managing partner, Yohan founded the London office and the Birth LX luxury division. He has produced visually powerful campaigns with renowned artists for Hermès, Audemars Piguet, Adidas, Armani, Audi, Dior, IBM... 

Yohan is based between Paris and London. 

LBB> What advice would you give to any aspiring producers or content creators hoping to make the jump into production? 

Yohan> We are talking about creation here. So for me, production should be something vital. A certain idea to put on track powerful artists and creative minds who need to exist because they have the right understanding of the pulse in this society. Passion and addiction to delivering images are the keys.  

It’s a lot of time dedicated to the mission. Without passion, I’m not sure there is room to have a career. 

LBB> What skills or emerging areas would you advise aspiring producers to learn about and educate themselves about? 

Yohan> Culture, Culture, Culture and staying connected with the people. 

LBB> What was the biggest lesson you learned when you were starting out in production - and why  has that stayed with you? 

Yohan> I have a background as a director. And I kept this sentence from a famous French classic director Claude Chabrol "When you arrive on a set, you should think about everything that might not work before starting. Because if something doesn't work, and there is always something that doesn't work, you should have a plan B in your pocket to move forward fast. This is not the kind of thought you can trigger when you have 60 people around you and a  movie star waiting for you". 

Yes, to me, anticipation is the key. It works for artists and producers. 

LBB> When it comes to broadening access to production and improving diversity and inclusion what  are your team doing to address this? 

Yohan> To be honest, at Birth, it has always worked this way. This is our mindset from the beginning. It has always been in our veins and our background and it will always stay that way. 

The project of our company was born with people from different backgrounds and origins. We now have offices in Paris, London, and Algiers, and our teams are composed of people coming from everywhere. 

It's not really a discussion for us. The door is opened to everybody without distinction, we are valuing talent, the energy, the desire to push the creation, and the hard work. 

LBB> And why is it an important issue for the production community to address? 

Yohan> There are young people getting into production who maybe don't see the line between professional production and the creator economy, and that may well also be the shape of things  to come. What are your thoughts about that? Is there a tension between more formalised production and the 'creator economy' or do the two feed into each other? 

To me the rule Is that there is no rule or frontier. People who have something to say have now the capacity to open up a discussion with an audience. Personally, I have the conviction that there is a moment, if you want to give dimension to the discussion you need to be accompanied by talented people and professionals. I think this is the moment where our expertise arrives in the game in giving voice to the artists, to the brands, to the community. 

LBB> If you compare your role to the role of the heads of TV/heads of production/ exec producers when you first joined the industry, what do you think are the most striking or interesting changes (and what surprising things have stayed the same?) 

Yohan> The number of players is amazing now. It’s an astonishing number. 

This liberation to make and to showcase images, messages, artists should be understood as a  real chance for our generation…. 

The idea that everybody can speak up is fantastic. Unless you’re judging or insulting your contemporary fellas. Personally, I need to be touched by a powerful message 

It’s a subtle mix between sincerity and the way to spread this message. The choice of the aesthetic to translate this vision is an important decision for me. I have a feeling that you can obtain the right balance with great people, a great DOP, a great set designer, great creative minds behind you… This is what I love to build and that I fight to preserve. 

LBB> When it comes to educating producers how does your agency like to approach this? (I know we're always hearing about how much easier it is to educate or train oneself on tech etc, but what areas do you think producers can benefit from more directed or structured training?) 

Yohan> I only whisper some words that sound inspiring for me to the newcomers who demonstrate a kind of strength and desire for the mission. Producing is a personal exercise. 

You arrive with your background, your energy, your dreams and you try to put this in the discussion to orientate the ideas. But most importantly you need to appreciate things with the right distance. As a great boxer or a great photographer, the pov is essential. You have to find the exact distance in the game, the process. Your distance with your director, with your client, with the creative, with the people you hire… It takes time to find the good distance 

LBB> It seems that there is an emphasis on speed and volume when it comes to content - but where is the space for up and coming producers to learn about (and learn to appreciate) craft? 

Yohan> When you love images it becomes a kind of addiction. You always want to be in the middle of a discussion to launch a project…. Just to be sure you didn’t miss an opportunity to create a unique piece. But it's interesting to listen to yourself sometimes  

There is an interesting voice saying you should go or not go on certain kind of topics I now listen to myself more than I did in the past (laughs) 

On the other side of the equation, what is the key to retaining expertise and helping people who have been working in production for decades to develop new skills? 

LBB> Clearly there is so much change, but what are the personality traits and skills that will always be in demand from producers? 

Yohan> The most important thing is the people. The way you create connections and take time to know the people you’re working with. In the end it’s how we trust each other to obtain better results and elevate the level of the discussion, the craft and the value of the message.

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