"I would say that the competitive edge comes from understanding that you can increase the impact of your team and mitigate the investment that you’ve made, by rationalizing and achieving more with fewer people. And this is what Yamdu has allowed us to do."
PJ Marcellino Executive Producer and Managing Partner at Anatomy of Restlessness Films, and ED at Pano Terra
Can you introduce yourself and a little bit about Anatomy of Restlessness Films?
I am an EP and Managing Partner at Anatomy of Restlessness Films. Our wheelhouse is political and cultural politics documentaries — so we like to tell stories that may be under-represented or that we feel can influence society in these complex times we live in.
We use filmmaking as a tool of intervention in society, so our topics unsurprisingly — and unapologetically — tend to deal with political, social, or economic issues.
What were you using before discovering Yamdu?
We were all over the place. Everyone was using a combination of tools which included products like Google Suite, Dropbox, Slack, Frame.io, Vimeo Pro, and others. But I wasn’t satisfied with the way things were running. Firstly, I hate inefficiency. And this sounds inefficient even as I say it out loud. Secondly, I really disliked the idea of uploading proprietary files onto a random platform. It’s one thing to upload data onto Yamdu, which is a closed circuit, it’s another to just use an open service. I’m not keen on uploading my personal and company data to a platform like Google, which is everything to everyone everywhere. Coupled with the issue of data security, a lot of the products we used didn’t communicate well with each other, and it got to a point where, as a manager, it wasn’t working anymore.
Can you explain what the process looked like?
Honestly, it looked like a mess! Because you have siloed data spread across different crew members, and keeping track of all that with multiple projects running simultaneously, can be overwhelming. So, I started to search for platforms to, ideally, do both office and production management.
And what was it that made you settle on Yamdu?
Several options were taken into consideration during my search. We started with Monday [laughs]. We even started a trial membership, only to figure out it was basically a very involved calendar and nothing that could potentially help me with my daily tasks.
I was looking for something to replace all the blind spots — the things that were causing choke points in our workflow. Then I came across Yamdu in some article about film management platforms and noticed it was partnered with ARRI. I didn’t know Yamdu, but I knew ARRI, so that gave me the boost to explore. When I decided to compare it against maybe five other software brands, Yamdu came up on top. It also looked sleeker.
The main reason for this was that, first and foremost, the architecture of the Yamdu system is film-centric, and it was doing a lot of the things that we wanted to cover. Other platforms were frequently branded as film management tools, but when you dug in a little bit, they didn’t really cover many of the specifics of our industry. Another thing about Yamdu was that, at the time, it was at a start-up level, and although that was a risk, for me it made the prospects of working and growing with the company appealing. And of course, the pricing was inviting as well.
So it was the price-quality relationship that won me over. And as soon as I joined, I was able to drop some of the other platforms.
How did the rest of the crew react to Yamdu?
It’s always a mixed bag of reactions, depending on where the people are coming from and who is managing a production. At this point, if I’m managing a project, I will immediately set up a Yamdu profile for the project and bring everyone on board. Ultimately, if I don’t do this, I’ll be left doing digital admin across a million platforms, and that’s so frustrating.
I know that Yamdu is a big platform that offers a lot and that it takes time to organize yourself — especially if you aren’t tech-savvy. The learning curve is a bit daunting. So on my end, I would go into the access rights and limit the content to the areas that an individual or department would need. It’s not so much about blocking information, it's really about reducing that drag that comes when people don’t know where to go and see a bunch of folders.
So if you’re a writer, I’ll make sure that you only have access to the material that pertains to you and nothing else — so you’ll be able to find everything you need and shouldn’t have any questions going in.
Generally, I found that people are quite impressed with the amount of stuff that can be done there and in the same space. Once they start to use it, they realize that it actually makes their lives easier. And it really makes my life easier. I don’t want to think about 30 projects and worry about which one is on which platform. Whenever I go in, I know where things are and where I need to go to find my material, following the same organizational logic everywhere. That’s gold.
Are you bringing this experience to your new ventures?
Hands down! I recently launched the groundwork for a new transnational production operation, Cinema Pano Terra, with lead partners in three locations, and partner offices in a few more, spread across four continents. A logistical nightmare, maybe, but luckily two of the other seniors had already been converted to Yamdu (by me). So, the path for us is clear.
For the time being, Cinema Pano Terra is seeding projects hosted on Anatomy’s account, but we expect it to outgrow Anatomy’s hospitality within six to twelve months, so we’re already starting everyone on the idea that there will be a migration, and getting everyone ready for it. We can scale up as we grow, as Yamdu’s solutions seem to be headed in the growth-response direction. Cinema Pano Terra won’t be a Yamdu OG like Anatomy, but a loyal client for sure.
If you couldn’t find a solution to your problems, how would that have impacted your projects? Company? What sort of difficulties would you have faced going forward?
One of the main issues I was having was the duplication, nay, triplication, quadruplication of efforts. If I’m managing Drive, Dropbox, Vimeo, Frame, and Slack — it takes a lot of work to track things individually. I would need to upload information multiple times, jump between platforms, and cross-reference things that are not engaging with each other.
What Yamdu allows me to do is to use a unified space to do all that. Now I can open it up on my browser, glance at whatever department or project, and gather the information I need; fairly quickly.
I’m always concerned with how I can optimize my time as a manager, especially when I’m working on a handful of projects at any given time. Yamdu helped me streamline my thought process.
Once you get over that initial learning curve, you realize that the platform has everything you need, right where you left it. You can review different versions of documents, and all the comments from way back when. So it’s a great tool to accompany a project from start to finish.
In your perspective, what are the 3 key benefits of Yamdu? How has Yamdu changed your workflow?
They’re interconnected, really: time management, streamlining workflows, and the ease of having one shared platform for everyone to gather data for themselves. No need to email me (or, dare I say, call me)... it’s all in there!
My goal going forward would be to get rid of the residual platforms we’re still using (they’re hard to shake off) and only use Vimeo and Yamdu for all our projects.
How has implementing Yamdu affected your competitiveness in the industry?
I’m not sure that I can make that specific connection. What I can tell you is that, from my perspective, the competitive edge comes from understanding that you can increase the impact of your team and mitigate the investment that you’ve made, by rationalizing and achieving more with fewer people. And this is what Yamdu has allowed us to do.
Yamdu is continuously adding new things, what would you like to see next? Would you continue to use Yamdu?
I’m happy to see that Yamdu has continuously made a lot of changes since we first joined. We may even claim one or two ideas that we passed on to the site architecture team back in the start-up days. So I’m hoping to continue to improve the system together.
I always felt that there was great communication with the staff at Yamdu. Unlike most companies, there was always a person whose name I knew that I could interact with whenever there was a troubleshooting concern. The customer team reached out and talked to me directly about my experience, and they were more than receptive to the feedback I gave them. Yamdu isn’t just another tech platform, it’s a company that’s providing a high-stakes service (funding and finance reporting deadlines, anyone…?), so knowing that I can talk to someone, that’s extremely valuable.