Jonathan Shipman is head of integrated production in Framestore New York. With more than 25 years of production experience in advertising, he joined the Oscar-winning visual effects company from McCann Erickson where he spent twelve years, starting out as an executive producer and moving up the ranks to deputy head of production, and finally head of integrated production. He is distinguished with creating the agency's first-ever integrated department and evolving its post-production facility from strictly client services and new business operations to high-end creative for major brands, including Dentyne, General Mills, Nestle Waters, MasterCard, Kohl's and Nikon, among others.
Do you have a degree and in what field is it in? I have a BA in literature and film from Bard College.
What’s the strangest request you’ve received from a client? It wasn’t actually a request but a lengthy process during pre-production—a seven-hour meeting trying to assuage a client’s fears about non-existent problems.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? Growing up, I always wanted to be a screenwriter, which is something I have taken a crack at over the years and decided I wasn’t good enough, so I’m not sure that counts. From where I sit now, I would have to say chef; I love to feed people and I enjoy the endless possibilities that can be offered up with just a few ingredients.
From where do your best ideas originate? I think there are two phases to getting to the best ideas: For me, it starts on the train coming into work. I have a great view of the Hudson River, I’m usually at peace and my mind is receptive to unedited thoughts. But those are usually just the kernel of an idea; but, if it’s a good kernel, it gets better when I start to share it and mold it with my partners at work.
How do you overcome a creative block? Nothing ever comes easy to me, so it’s all about powering through. But that doesn’t mean I torture myself and try to grind through to a conclusion. I developed a particular work habit back in junior high whereby I give myself permission to mentally walk away and then circle back; I cycle through that path until I put a crack in it. Then things start to flow.
What’s your dream project (not client, but project)? Any project that allows me to collaborate with talented people.
In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project. Calmed.
Do you read creative outlets outside of work? I enjoy reading about cooking, gardening and home design.
What’s your approach to balancing work and life? I divide my energy between my job and home. I work hard and then find relaxation in the kitchen and my garden; creative energy goes into cooking and physical energy goes into the garden (I don’t have a green thumb but I’m definitely an enthusiastic gardener).
What product/gadget can you not live without? I’d have to say my chef's knife. I can’t live without it. I take it with me anywhere that cooking will be involved. It’s an amazing tool and incredibly versatile.
What’s your favorite quote? “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” —Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? It’s pretty basic: Follow your passion.