Dare Content is a production studio working directly with agencies to produce film, stills and animation. Launched in 2020 by Creative Producer Chris Coetsee, Dare already has the proven success to back their transparent budget approach to production. With no in-house roster of talent, Chris curates a team that he believes is best suited to each brief and at the heart of his company is what Chris calls ‘radical transparency.’
No newbie to the industry, Chris Coetsee’s experience in the advertising and film industry all lead to developing the Dare business structure. Chris works predominantly with creative agencies (often those who need a bit of extra in-house production help) to effectively produce their ideas within budgets. ‘Often, even before agencies present their ideas to clients, I am approached to cost out their ideas to determine if their creative can be made within budget. In this instance, I operate kind of like a freelance in-house producer for agencies.’
Chris began his career as a Creative Strategist on the agency side before making the leap to production; first becoming a Production Manager and crew Agent turned Producer and Partner of Eyeforce Cape Town to then Freelance Producer and finally Founder of Dare. Chris speaks candidly about his love for producing, but also how he had to carve out his way of doing things, particularly when it comes to Dare’s ‘radical transparency’ model.
We asked Chris to explain this notion of ‘radical transparency’: ‘Throughout my career, I faced a moral dilemma when it came to production. The lack of transparency in the industry began to feel really toxic, so I had to decide whether to leave the industry entirely or try to change the way I operated within the industry. Transparency creates stronger relationships and eliminates suspicions and anxieties clients have about the value they are being offered and is ultimately the only way to build trust with clients and creators. Transparency is only really transparent when it’s pushed all the way. It has to be radically transparent, and that’s how I operate Dare.’ Says Chris.
So, what does radical transparency look like?
Once a project at Dare kicks off, Chris shares a live link to the project’s working budget with both the agency and director. The agency has direct access to the budget in real-time and will easily be able to track the true cost and total savings of each line item – including links to invoices and slips, down to that bottle of water he bought at the Spar. ‘Along with our clients and creators, we can review the budget to redistribute savings and increase overall production value. In practical terms, it’s nearly impossible for a Producer to estimate a cost with 100% accuracy but with this model I feel we are more agile and can direct the budget to go where we need it most. As an example, on a recent project, we realised that we needed more budget for art department and dressing, our client couldn’t afford to fork out more money so we had to look at it realistically and work with the agency creatives to cut in certain places and direct the savings towards building the set we imagined. Overall, I believe this model makes the process more collaborative and better manages expectations.’ Adds Chris.
At Dare, Chris believes in the freedom of creativity. Dare has no permanent staff or roster of in-house talent because Chris curates teams of filmmakers, photographers and crew from his network that is best suited for each project. ‘At Dare, we believe in creative freedom and collaboration. I don’t want to exclusively represent creatives, I am a Producer, and I want to produce, which to me means assembling the best group of people for a project. The value that I bring is my network, knowing exactly who to call and at what time.’
Dare Did That
Working with various Directors and Photographers across South Africa, including Directors Talya Galasko and Ramon Mellet, Dare has built up a pretty diverse and impressive reel of commercials and stills work.