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Why Lord Danger’s Emma Beren Is a “Non-Creative Creative”

Production Company
Los Angeles, USA
The production studio’s communications manager speaks to LBB’s Ben Conway about her “unconventional” role, why we could all use more silliness and training her pet fish

“I really enjoyed the Sour Patch Kids ‘first they’re sour then they’re sweet’ spots. For me, that hit a sweet (and sour… I’m sorry) spot between advertising and entertainment that I think Lord Danger now does very successfully, too.”

Now a communications manager at innovative production studio Lord Danger, Emma Beren was drawn to comedy and entertainment from a young age. She loved to watch Nickelodeon’s sketch show ‘All That’ before progressing to Saturday Night Live as she got older and has carried that passion with her ever since - eventually studying screenwriting at Emerson College. Despite now looking back at this period of time as “a silly decision”, after graduating she worked in the entertainment industry in a variety of roles before crossing into the advertising space.

During the infancy of her professional life, she learned a few valuable lessons almost immediately which have proved useful to this day. “My first boss used to tell me, ‘all you have is your word’, which is something that’s always stuck with me. It can apply to almost everything: your taste, the folks you vouch for, your quality of work and so much more. It’s such wise counsel that I always try to keep in mind. Another piece of advice - be nice. That is important. Being nice will (mostly) get you far.”

After returning to LA from NYC in 2021 - omitting a “bizarre year spent living on a ranch in Texas” during the height of the pandemic - Emma joined Lord Danger, a studio that she had been a fan of after seeing Mike Diva’s LA Metro spots. “When I first started, my role was fairly admin-heavy with the goal of eventually producing, which I have since done a bit of on internal projects. As time has passed, though, I’ve realised that I’m more drawn to working in the development space, which is a longer-term goal for the studio that we’re now working on together.”

Describing it as “a bit unconventional”, she says that she has to wear many hats in her communications manager position. “I do a little bit of everything. I manage communications internally and externally. I help plan company events. I strategise for our social media and work closely with our PR team. I help produce internal branding and development projects. I assist with copy on pitch decks. I source new directors and writers… I fill out questionnaires for Little Black Book.” From her work as an assistant at a production company in a previous role to her work today, she has gained a host of experience in contributing concepts, notes and ideas to pitches for clients like Apple TV and NBC Universal. Her first critical involvement in a project - and a kickstart to her self-confidence - was for a Comedy Central documentary feature several years ago, where she took a leading role in the concept, reach-out and pitching of the project. “That was the first time it felt like my voice was being actively heard and appreciated,” she says.

Discussing creative inspirations for her occupation, she says that she has been taking note of the work of Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund - specifically his film ‘Force Majeure’ - and also Todd Solondz’s films. She appreciates these artists and others for creating work that makes people uncomfortable or makes them think, although there is still a special place in her heart for silliness. “People think I am joking when I say this, but I genuinely feel inspired by MTV’s ‘Jackass’ for that exact reason. We could all use a bit more silliness in our lives. I’m also a huge fan of Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington’s ‘On Cinema’.”

After working at Lord Danger for the last year, Emma believes the studio has cultivated a company culture that can be relatively scarce within the industry. “I really like the people I work with, which has not always been the case in my previous positions. The team at LD are very open to suggestions and collaborative thinking and I’m often asked for my opinion, even if I’m not necessarily an expert on the subject.” She continues, saying that in her experience, the rarity of a situation as this can’t be overstated. However she admits that you can’t expect to track with everyone all of the time, especially with “conflicting creative ideas” flying around. “You can’t squeeze every idea into one project and hopefully you wouldn’t want to.”    

To stay abreast of all the developments in such a fast-moving industry, Emma says that she tries her best to keep up with the trade press, and even attended AICP week in New York recently, taking in several panels and “all sorts of beautiful work” - sweetened further by Lord Danger winning an AICP award. One of the industry’s hot topics that has particularly caught her eye is virtual production; she admits she is still getting a handle on its “inner workings” but is excited by its possibilities. On the other hand, where she thinks the industry leaves a lot to be desired is in terms of its impact on the environment. “When I was at AICP Week in NYC, one of my favourite panels focused on the importance of sustainability in production. A lot of light was shed on harmful practices that I hadn’t been previously aware of.”

To decompress outside of work, Emma has a number of hobbies, but perhaps none more intriguing than a recently acquired - and “possibly concerning” - fascination with training her new betta fish (or Siamese fighting fish). “When I’m not failing to train my stupid little fish, lately I have been enjoying sitting on my couch with my partner and watching old episodes of ‘Peep Show’. I have also been trying to finish ‘Moby Dick’' for several months now.”

Whether it be the commitment to her aquatic acrobat’s training regime or working cohesively alongside the talented creatives at Lord Danger, Emma has always enjoyed being a part of the making of anything, regardless of how small - or goldfish-brained - it is. In the end, what drives her through her work, creative process and life in general, is the satisfaction she derives from knowing that her contributions, no matter how big or small, will have helped to create something that will outlive all of us. 

“I’d describe myself as a non-creative creative, which may initially sound like nonsense. What I mean is that I enjoy providing creative feedback that I hope is helpful, without necessarily being the driving creative force behind a project. I would also like to think that I’m motivated by being a part of something that will be around after I’m not. But aren’t we all?”