Department

Meetings MidAmerica, July/August 2007

Checking Out

by Tyler Davidson

A film crew and cast truly are the epitome of teamwork, with the director tied to the cinematographer, the cinematographer reliant on actors, and all of them in action as the result of the scriptwriter.

Los Angeles-based Lights, Camera, InterAction transports Hollywood throughout the U.S., working with team-building clients to create “commercials” that emphasize a corporate message while teaching teamwork via the production process.

“It’s so far out of the realm of what people do on a daily basis that for a lot of them it’s an ‘aspirational dream’ sort of event,” says Sterling Lanier, a partner in the company. “We get a lot of people who say, ‘Thanks for not making me play golf this year.’”

Lanier and business partner David Wendell—whom Lanier describes as the firm’s “chief creative officer”—launched the company in 2002 after a meeting planner for Discover Card called Wendell wanting a very “Hollywood” team-building event for a Los Angeles meeting.

Being an independent filmmaker, Wendell suggested splitting the group of 150 into “crews” to shoot films surrounding themes the company wanted to emphasize, such as turning a conference room into a faux Western saloon to shoot a commercial about customer service.

“We didn’t really have a business model,” Lanier says, “but Discover Card said, ‘This is awesome, let’s just keep doing these things,’ so it sort of blossomed from there.”

Today, Lights, Camera, InterAction has a core group of eight to 10 film industry professionals it flies out to supervise a team-building event, and also has access to independent producers in major markets.

Groups ranging from 100 to 500 people are split into teams of 10, with individuals assigned roles such as director, writer, actor, etc.

“They know what the final product should look like,” Lanier says. “These people are trained Hollywood people.”

The company also owns wardrobes, props and makeup.

“We can pretty much outfit any idea you can come up with,” Lanier says. “If you want to be Flash Gordon, we’ve got you covered. If you want to be Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, we’ve got you covered.”

Some companies do a day of production as a team-building event, and then show the “commercials” to kick off each day of a conference.

It could be the perfect icebreaker.

“It’s something about a camera,” Lanier says. “Put a camera in a room and everyone goes crazy.”

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