Allow me to introduce Alexander Andrews, Principal at The Crux, LLC and all around energizer bunny. Seriously, he does more in a day than most do in a week, and I wanted him to share how he works, enjoys life and finds (some) balance.
Who are you? How did you get here?
Oh, hey Rikki. I’m Alex – East Coast Blood, Midwestern Ambition & West Coast Personality. I develop and produce TV shows. Entertainment’s been a really exciting adventure. I got my foot in the door as an intern at Saturday Night Live during the 2008 season of Sarah Palin. Then, just never stopped.
Randy Pausch once said, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted,” and both my failure and successes started telling me I could try this on my own. I was fortunate enough to take a year, after climbing out of the trenches and up the executive ladder, to develop my own slate [a portfolio of shows to sell for us non-industry folk]; get an agent; find an investor; and form a team. It wasn’t easy, but after going through the motions, we just opened our office last week.
What kind of work is on your plate right now?
One of my first collaborators was Huck Magazine, a UK do-it-yourself journalism and radical-culture magazine, similar to Vice (but a publication you’ll never take off your coffee table). Utilizing their vast portfolio of reportage, content and access, partner project, Lena Katz, and I developed numerous TV formats, a few different digital series and even landed a branded campaign. The Crux was lucky to set the bar for prospective collaborators and are always searching for comparable opportunities.
I’m a producer, sure. Great. But the traditional model has changed – even from the industry I grew up in during the past decade. Today’s establishing producers should be asking themselves, do you stick with TV and try to sell a bunch of shows, or do you split your time for digital or brand outlets?
To do both, it’s a fight to have access to everything all the time. Right now, we have 70 developing projects and pushing ourselves to constantly diversify our portfolio. If there’s a splinter of interest in a project, we tailor the pitch overnight. And that’s what we’re all about. The Crux finds good original content or a great story and we get right to the heart of it, figure out distribution and the potential storytelling that could happen through television, digital, brand and talent. We create custom strategies to expand a brand or voice into the next era of entertainment.
What’s a good day for you?
I believe in feast or famine. I love it when you wake up, take four calls with England, then two with New York, run to pitch networks, take some meetings, introduce yourself at lunch and then you hit this wall, but all of a sudden you get that second rush of inspiration and you keep going. At the end of the day you can’t believe you did all of that. Hopefully you learned something, everyone is happy and there was a little success in there, too.
Okay, but what about sleep?
I keep reading these stories about entrepreneurs that say rest is important, and I”m working on it. But honestly? When you’re just starting out – it’s too exciting, too motivating, too much on the line. How can I sleep away these pivotal years without really hustling? I mean, sometimes I need to rest and give myself a break because you can’t create when you’re totally exhausted, but, I really like to push.
What are your thoughts on balance?
My work is my life is my passion. There’s still balance in finding how hard can I challenge myself. This industry is like politics, as you get in it you realize how closely connected everything is. Which means you really build a network that has both competitors and collaborators and you find that balance.
My biggest issue is my attempt to balance between what I want to accomplish and what is biting off too much. Or balance between talking about it, versus shutting my mouth and just getting it done. I like to tell people what I”m trying to do, because that holds me to it, makes it real. Like, what I love is variety. And I want to bring back the 1960s version of a variety show. I’ve wanted to do that for maybe 11 years, but telling someone I’ll get it done in 2 years? Maybe I will!
So, what else?
My final point would be, everybody watches television, everyone is entertained by it, but the people who work in it, the best projects come from the more exposure you get in the life and times we live in. If you hit a plateau in the content around you then you see something new, innovative and it still entertains you with an element of surprise? Go for it and figure it out.