This is Africa: I drove with my host around Soweto, when he threw his plastic water bottle out of his passenger’s seat window. To my protest, he just smiled and said “sharing is caring”. I noticed while driving around these roads, how the shoulders were littered with bottles and cans, plastic bags, cardboard boxes and old rags. Now, as he kept smiling, I started noticing the people walking on the side of the road, picking up stuff. “Everything is recycled here”, my host continued: “nothing is left unused”.

Roooster is a solution based on the idea of sharing. Obviously, freelancers can’t be compared to used water bottles: water bottles don’t get to decide if they want to be refilled or not. In this competitive independent studio market, sharing is perceived as a problem, and for a very good reason:

Being someone who relies on a freelance workforce, you want to have an edge on your competitors, to signify you as unique and make you stand out from the rest. You hire only the most talented professionals, those who you already know have both the skills and the work ethics to provide the best contribution to your project. But how can you establish this edge, when the talents we use for our projects are also employed by other studios? Our competitors?

The answer is simple: every studio has a leader, someone who distinguishes the studio by their quality of work, by the creative ingenuity or by the speed of delivery. For the busy studio, there is always need for a fresh talent to join a project’s team. This person, if they’re good, will probably be constantly busy with many creative leaders queuing up to hire them.

So how does one make sure that the project is teamed by the best available talents? Evidently, a big list of high quality contacts is needed, because, as a creative leader, if you blink for a minute, you’ll find that all of your precious contacts are already employed by other studios.
And it is a good thing: it tells you that your previous projects were part of the reason these people were hired for their current project. It is also Your work which is evaluated by your peers. You do the same: appreciate other studios’ work and try to contact people from their credit rolls.

There is this African code of sharing one’s good fortune with those who need it. If you have a good job and a steady income, it is basically your moral obligation to hire a housekeeper. This piece of information, believe it or not, was provided by my host as an answer to my question why there is no self-service gas station in South Africa. For the same reason, in this industry, where high-value professionals sometimes find it hard to market themselves, they rely a lot on the recommendations of those with whom they have worked. If you can’t provide your dear freelance a job right now, why not help them get hired? By the time you’ll work together again, you will also benefit from the gained experience.

Exchanging contacts is a great way to communicate with other studios. Sometimes you recommend a brilliant illustrator and get the details of a 3D modeller to build your fantasy castle. Sometimes you ask for a character designer, and get “go fish” as an answer. Besides, there is absolutely no reason to think that the creative freelancers that you keep in your secret address book are, well, a secret.

 

Posted by Samuel Miller

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