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Toronto’s New One-Stop-Shop Is a Great, Big HUG



Holiday United Group’s Derek Sewell on launching an end-to-end production service for the Canadian market

Toronto’s New One-Stop-Shop Is a Great, Big HUG
Agencies and brands are creating more content than ever before. This is no big secret but content creators are still coming to terms with how to offer more nimble, all-encompassing production services for their clients. With this in mind, Holiday Films, a well established production company in Toronto, has launched Holiday United Group (cutely shortened to HUG). 

HUG is made up of Holiday Films for broadcast production, Nimble Content for online video and digital projects, Recess Post for editorial, colour, and VFX, and The Cavalry for stills photography. Each of the four divisions offers a unique production service that can be engaged on its own or can be bundled together to seamlessly deliver a fully integrated production solution. Holiday Films, founded by Derek Sewell and Josefina Nadurata in 2008, is the foundation HUG is built on. Nimble Content, run by execs Andrew Lynch and Michael Corbiere, continues to produce innovative online content. Recess Post is a new full-service editorial, colour, VFX, and finishing facility operating in the new Holiday Films headquarters. The Cavalry provides a diverse roster of top stills photographers that have experience working on film sets.

Keen to know more, LBB's Addison Capper chatted to HUG's Derek.

LBB> Can you tell us about each of the companies that makes up hug prior to the formation of the group? Were they standalone companies or was there always a relationship?

Derek> Holiday Films (broadcast TV) was formed in 2008 by my business partner Josefina Nadurata and I. Nimble (online content) was also formed by us in 2013 to service the growing online content market. We began to organically offer post and stills in response to clients’ desire to package services through Nimble and Holiday. We’ve been offering these services for the past three years on a job-by-job basis. At the beginning of 2019 we decided to formalise our offering. It was then that we built out Recess Post and The Cavalry (stills) and combined all the companies under the name Holiday United Group (HUG). Clients can clearly understand what we offer now. 

LBB> What inspired the formation of the group? What kind of challenges were you seeing that led to the idea?

Derek> Marketers are being challenged to create more content across all platforms for the same budget or less. HUG allows them to streamline the production process leading to better value. HUG isn’t about compromising the end product, it's about using budgets more wisely, leading to more content being produced well. 

We also saw lots of smaller creative agencies popping up. They don’t have the infrastructure of the large agencies to help wade through the complexities of working with multiple suppliers on a project. HUG is built to support them through that process. We’re all under one roof talking to each other about the project beginning to end. Nothing slips through the cracks this way. We all have the same briefing and information from the get go. 

Small agencies often bring us into the process very early on so they can write appropriately to a budget. This way they can confidently present concepts to a client knowing they’re affordable.

LBB> On a creative level, how does the group work and why is it beneficial for an agency / brand?

Derek> The advantage to a project creatively is that we all sit in on the initial brief at the same time getting the same information. We all understand what’s most important to the project and what areas may need help. As we craft our budget, we can rob from Peter to pay Paul since we have the whole budget. We can shave a bit off production and add it to post for example if that’s where it’s needed. We can disperse the budget appropriately across all services. Often we do this with the agency. We can figure out collectively how to best spend the budget to get the best creative results.

LBB> Will you be working direct with brands as well as with agencies?

Derek> Yeah, like many production companies, we are approached to produce projects directly. The HUG approach is appropriate for some of those projects as well. Like everyone else these days, direct clients are very careful with their budgets. They have all recognised the value of HUG.

LBB> How is the endeavour going so far?

Derek> It's going really well. We tend to be in a position to solve even more problems for clients as they don’t have the production experience that agencies do. They know what they want though and often the final decision makers are in the room so the process can move quickly and smoothly. The majority of our work is still with agencies though and I expect it will stay that way.

LBB> Which pieces of work have you worked on as a group that you are particularly proud of? And why? 

Derek> Here are a few spots we’ve done since we started HUG only a couple of months ago. I think they turned out well creatively. The process was as described above - collaborative, creative was always paramount, and the value for the budget was excellent. 

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Holiday Films & Nimble Content, Mon, 09 Sep 2019 13:26:25 GMT