We talked to Anurag Ramgopal, the creative director and founder at Let’s Make Better (LMB) Productions about storytelling and the following is what he had to say about it:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Anurag Ramgopal: Thank you for asking. The family and I are good, so is my LMB family. We have been really lucky to have each other to lean on during these trying times. LMB stands for Let’s Make Better, and I think that is what we have managed to do with this situation as well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded LMB Productions.
Anurag Ramgopal: Everyone has a story to tell. And no matter what that story is, I believe together—we can make it better.
It was this core belief and a passion for visual storytelling that led me to set up a video production company in 2012 at the age of 24. Now Let’s Make Better, or LMB, is a force of its own that visually helps organizations and artists engage with their audiences.
Over the past 8 years, we have created it all, from awarding-winning music videos, short films, web-series, and feature films. I have directed over 150 projects with the team. We have conceptualized, written, shot, directed, edited, and presented these creations with pride. We have helped brands/organizations communicate better with their clients and employees while keeping brand aesthetic in mind. We are recognized Clutch Leaders in the industry and take great pride in our work.
On a more personal note, my approach to directing, writing, animating, and editing is defined by my relationship with stories and my passion for helping others tell theirs. My varied experience in everything visual, from music videos to documentaries to feature films, has taught me that cinema’s true exhilaration is found when you push the boundaries when you create worlds and characters and let them be stranger than fiction. I also love learning new skills, be it an instrument or skateboarding, or aquascaping.
How does LMB Productions innovate?
Anurag Ramgopal: LMB brings every single aspect of filmmaking under one roof. We come up with highly creative concepts and have the ability to execute them. Filmmaking can often be a fragmented process, and having writers, cinematographers, producers, directors, animators, and editors under one roof allows us to maintain a level of control over the production rarely seen in traditional production companies.
Being an end-to-end video production company means that LMB is the one point of contact our clients need to receive a completely polished film—from concept to final cut. Whether the story is that of a brand, a romance, a product, or simply an event, we go to great lengths to ensure we understand the true essence of it. And from this very essence, we conceptualize script, storyboard, shoot, edit, and craft their vision.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Anurag Ramgopal: Filmmaking is a physical and not a solitary effort. It is an art that cannot thrive in isolation. The isolation was probably the toughest part of the pandemic. When a crew can’t assemble, we couldn’t ideate, could not shoot, and ultimately could not create the way we used to. Demand for our live-action filmmaking services also dried up as the world entered survival mode.
We knew we had to adapt, and we did so rapidly. We focused on what we COULD do. We refocused our energies on internal projects and brand building. We started promoting our animation services as a safe and viable option for our clients.
We are luckily back in our studio today, taking all the necessary precautions but so glad to be back in the space we all love. The demand for live-action projects is slowly trickling in, and in the meantime, we continue to work on our assets. In fact, we have even scaled up!
We invested in new gear, and we know the time and investment we put in it now will have been able in a regular workflow. So far, so good, and hopefully, LMB will continue to innovate and to grow. We are taking each challenge within our stride.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Anurag Ramgopal: To ensure that we were a part of flattening the curve, we closed our beloved studio down for three months and carried our editing machines home. In those three months, the crew really banded together to support each other. Everyone was willing to make drastic cuts in their salaries so we could keep everyone on board. I am very proud of my team and the community we build by supporting each other. We didn’t let go of anyone despite the tough financial situation.
I have four core take-aways from this whole experience as the owner of a small business.
1. Evolve to your situation rapidly but also realistically. Instead of responding to the crisis by pushing harder to do the same things, we just shifted gear and focused on different things, different strengths, and building new skill sets with the talented team we already have.
2. Don’t make hasty financial decisions when faced with uncertainty. It is still important to focus on your long term goals. Making hasty decisions to provide financial relief in the short-term may hurt your long-term.
3. Your team is your most important asset. As a creative company, the most important thing for us was the crew. While most companies, both small and large, decided layoffs were the only way to survive, we found a way to stay together, to look out for each other. People over profit, people over products, because people will stand by you when things get hard, people are loyal, dedicated, passionate, and complicated. LMB is a melange of its people and not a projection of any one individual. As a business owner and it is important that people are always your priority.
4. Don’t be afraid to have honest conversations with your stakeholders during a crisis. We were able to get through this time because we were unafraid, to be honest about our finances with our core stakeholders. We managed to alter lease agreements, client requirements, drastically reduce salaries, only because we had genuine conversations with everyone about the reality of the situation. People are inherently willing to make things work.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Anurag Ramgopal: Badly (hahaha). My stress level during this time is so high that my white blood cell started attacking me! I developed an autoimmune response. Hopefully, this will end soon, and I can stop screaming internally.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Anurag Ramgopal: Other production companies in India are our competition, but our greatest asset is that we are multi-disciplinary. We don’t put all our eggs in one basket. Having a diverse model and a diverse team with a varying skill set helps tackle projects in a unique way.
Your final thoughts?
Anurag Ramgopal: The only way is through! Stick in there, and we are all in this together!