Original Content Production Pipelines with David Weinstein, Complex


By Assemble

May 30, 2023

David Weinstein is the former VP of Production at Complex and Buzzfeed, where he oversaw production for a multitude of original content properties, and helped shepherd the media company giant through COVID and the transition to cloud based workflows.

David is now taking on his next challenge at Pro League Network, where he'll be spearheading content strategy for untapped and emerging sports verticals.

In this episode David tells us his career path into production leadership roles, and gives us an in-depth breakdown of his workflow and tools for managing a large content pipeline.

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Nate Watkin: Welcome to our show, David.

David Weinstein: Thanks. Thanks for having me, Nate. Yeah,

Nate Watkin: Of course. So we always like to start the show, just hearing a little bit about your background, how you came to the position that you're in now. So tell me a bit about your childhood and what you wanted to be when you grew up.

David Weinstein: Well, I have to say, because my mother might be watching this, that my childhood was wonderful. No, but in, in all seriousness, I, I actually did not think that I was gonna get into this industry as a kid. It really, it really wasn't until my freshman year of college where I, I worked my first gig which was at N B C Sports. Matt was in 1997, I was a little bit of a nepo baby. I had a cousin who at the time was a production manager for N B C sports, and she brought me on to be a runner at the French Open. And I, I think you could imagine that spending two and a half weeks in Paris covering the sport that you played as a kid and running around and like, literally my job was like, fine, John McEnroe.

And that was all of our jobs, actually, as runners, it was fine. John McEnroe make sure, make sure he doesn't get lost or make sure he gets to the booth on time. But yeah, like two and a half weeks in Paris, I fell in love with the biz. I loved the travel. I loved like the feeling of being on set and sitting in the edit room. And I remember Al Zamanski who at the time was, was working at nbc and he ended up, you know, winning awards and producing 30 for thirties, directing 30 for thirties. He was a feature producer at the time for N B C. And I just remember being in the back of the edit room watching this guy go and just thinking to myself, wow, like, this is what I want to do. I want to tell stories. I want to be in the middle of this. And so that was the bug that got me. And, and I've been doing production TV content video ever since in kind of various forms. So what about you? How did you get into the biz?

Nate Watkin: Oh, me, <laugh>. So my background, you know, I, I started my production company, my first production company outta college when I was 19. Oh shit, that eventually took me to Los Angeles, where would run that production company for about a decade you know, which is really growing up in that industry and just learning everything from the inside out. So yeah,

David Weinstein: I did the same thing. I started my production company when I was, was it 2020? So I must have been in 2004. I was, yeah, it was like 25, 26 when we started our and ran it for 10 years. Yeah, and I'm so hap I'm so happy that I, I'm not running a production company now <laugh> No, no, no shade to people running production companies now, but it's stressful, you know, that, I mean, it's, it's really, yeah, it's a lot. Yeah.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. You gotta wear all all the hats all the time.

David Weinstein: Yeah. For,

Nate Watkin: But yeah, I mean, I would love to hear more about that. So that was East Pleasant Pictures then.

David Weinstein: Yeah, east Pleasant. Sure.

Nate Watkin: Cool. Yeah, and like, I, I mean, would love to hear about that experience

David Weinstein: Like, but mainly just like what you learned from being an entrepreneur. I learned how to do so many things the wrong way as an entrepreneur. And, and, and certainly a lot of things the right way. But we were really lucky when we started East Pleasant, and it was really kind of fortuitous way that we started it. So when we started the company, myself and my, and one of my business partners, we were staff at a startup called College Sports Television. This was back in 2004. And because we were a startup, like we were all feature producers, me and my friends, and we were running around the country doing all of these stories. And at the time we were shooting on mostly two cameras, right? The Sony VX 2000, the Cannon XL one. You know, obviously the, the VX two thousand's, a legendary camera, especially if you shoot skateboard videos, like it's, it's a, it's a beast.

I still see kids shooting on the streets in New York with the century optics fisheye lens, and like, I love that camera. I certainly, the vx vh V XL one was a great camera, but we wanted more and we were kind of frustrated with like how far we could push these cameras. And so one day, my, my future business partner who's my coworker, stash, and we had been runners together at N B C, we worked together. He kind of, we were out at the bar doing something. He's like, let's go buy a camera. And at the time, Panasonic had just come out with the DVX 100 which if, you know, you were an early creator kind of content person in the early two thousands, the DVX 100 was just like a revolutionary camera, right? Because it shot Progressive in 24 p It just did a lot that like other cameras couldn't do.

And it was like a, a slim down version of like the Panasonic baram. And it just looked great. It looked different than anything else that people were shooting. And so we went out and we bought a used DVX 100, and we shot something for C S T V. And then my boss at the time, Emily Deutch, who's still at c well, C S T V got bought by C B S and she's still there, and she's one of the greatest bosses of all time. Shout out Emily Deutch. She saw what we shot, and she was like, what is this? And we were like, well, we shot it on our new camera. And she was like, do more and Stasha. And I looked at each other like, okay, but we're gonna charge you for it. And I don't know where we got the stones to like say like, we're gonna charge our boss to use our camera, but that's what we said.

And they actually were like, fine. And so we ended up like renting the camera back to the company that we were working at, and in like 10 days, we paid for that camera. And instead of paying ourselves, like we had jobs already, so it's like, fuck, let's just buy more equipment. And we spent like the next year and a half just buying more and more equipment and really just mostly shooting for Cstv. And then eventually we got some new clients and all that. The wild thing about it was we didn't even have an office. So Cstv actually led us, they gave us a gear room at our building in Chelsea Pierce, and we housed all of our equipment in the offices of C S T V. And eventually, like, people found out, and they were like, why did these guys get to run a production company inside?

And we were just like, I don't know, cuz they're letting us, we had PAs for other jobs, like coming into the building and like grabbing equipment and people would just be like, who are these guys? And we're like, oh, they work for us. It was like the, it was the funniest thing. But that got us off the ground. And then we ran that company for 10 years. We started doing content and kind of in 2004, 2005, 2006 when digital was really blowing up and everybody wanted content before YouTube. And then eventually we started working with more brands and agencies and we were doing first, like behind the scenes or maybe proof some concept or maybe some demo reels. And that eventually turned into doing bigger brand of content and eventually spots. And we had a Super Bowl spot one year. We won an Emmy one year, and it just was like this amazing experience.

And then after 10 years, I think we all started kind of growing up. We had families one of my partners wanted to do more documentary work. One of my partners wanted to become a union director. One of my partners wanted to kind of explore and do more creative stuff. So we broke up the business and kind of went our, our ways. And it was a wild ride though. I mean, we, we had such a blast doing it, and I'm thankful that I shut it down like before, like this time now because I'm like, you know, I moved agency side and I, and I ended moving publisher side and I'm really thankful that I had those opportunity that I'm not running a production company right now. Yeah,

Nate Watkin: Yeah, yeah. I remember that grind of just trying to get all that equipment and purchase it and like find a place to put it. Like that's the traditional startup production company story. So I can relate to that.

David Weinstein: Yeah. I mean, thankfully at the time there were less, there were less options.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. For us it was the five D,

David Weinstein: Right? The five D like that was the next, that was the next step when, when everyone went from like the HVX 200, the Panasonic HVX 200, and then like Red came out with their camera. It was too expensive. Yeah, the red one. Yeah. And then everybody started shooting on DSLRs and the five D. Yeah.

Nate Watkin: But then you had the H VX with the Red Rock Micro Adapter. Please ever use that.

David Weinstein: Everybody used the Red Rock adapter. Well, because it had that, like, it like had that like film, you know, you had that film look and there was that, you know, like the adapter had that like spinning wheel on it that gave it that film look, but that spinning wheel always broke. And so like, yeah, yeah. Then you'd, then you'd be on set and like the thing would, would, would crap out. And then, I mean, back then I just felt like there was, we were all kind of stitching this together and, and we saw on the horizon like what union production companies were doing. You know, big commercials were doing, they were all using like either film or then they were eventually switching to, you know, when Red came out with more advanced cameras or then Ari started coming out with more cameras. But we were just all like poses at the time. We were just trying to keep up with everybody else and pretend, pretend like we knew what we were doing.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah. 100%. Cool. So after the production company became head of production at Laundry service you were aligning a team of 60 people across three cities. Like what was the biggest challenge here and what did you learn from that experience?

David Weinstein: I mean, I think the biggest challenge at laundry service was just that it was such a young company. I mean, being a young company, they still had some incredible clients. So at the time we were Silver Agency of Record for Jordan Brand. We were social a o r for Hennessy. We were social aor for Beats. And so, like, even before I started Laundry service, they had really amassed an absolutely impressive list of clients. So in a lot of ways my job was like, don't break what works. But we were also trying to stand up like a media company within laundry service. And that was Cycle. And we were trying to do a lot of content, a lot of original content. So it was like, make sure that your brands are happy, and that was LG Mobile, Hennessy Beats and then also try to like start this production company.

And we were trying to become kind of the next complex. And I remember we brought in people from Complex, a lot of creatives, and we were trying to kind of replicate their model. And it's ironic that I went from kind of working at a company that was trying to be complex to, what is that, seven years later, five years later working at Complex, which, which was really funny for me. But yeah, that was wild. And, and it was social. I mean, it was really, and what Laundry service was doing, which was just brilliant. And and I think that, you know, Jason Stein was, was really a mastermind at this, was like, he understood that owning the media spend and the creative in the same place was the secret sauce. And so we were executing on campaigns and coming up with creative and then shooting it like the next day or that day, and then putting media behind it without having to like work with a media agency or wait to kind of, you know, for the plant.

Like, we were doing it all ourselves. Like, and I remember, like, I remember like this one time where we Stranger Things had just come out and at the same time there was this some dance that was, that was kind of going viral. And like, we ended up like hiring kid actors in one day, getting them dressed up like the Stranger Kids things and teaching them that dance. And then like the next day we shot it and then it went live that night. And that thing, like, we were working so fast it was such an exciting time and it was a really great place to work from, from a content side. Like we were just wild and, and, and really having a lot of fun with it.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And because you were trying to become a media company there, were you building out like, in-house studios? Like what did that internal production capability look

David Weinstein: Like? Yes. I mean, we were basically running, we were running a production company within the agency which at the time there were some agencies that were doing that, but I don't think anybody was doing it quite like we were. I mean, Vayner was doing the same thing at the time. And I think that there were some other companies that were kind of starting, like pivoting from being a production company to kind of being an agency. And I remember like Mustache was doing the same thing at the time. And, and, and you know, they're owned by Edelman now. Like, but there were very few at the time, like production companies that were acting in creative capacities. And there were not a lot of agencies that were really saying like, all right, we need to, we need to, they were talking about it, but not a lot were doing, I think what we were doing with Vayner was doing.

And so like, I think those models that we were all kind of collectively building together really set the stage for what you have now, which is like every agency now has in-house production at least in some capacity. And, and, and, and being able to kind of scale up. That being said, I don't think a lot of agency production departments are still nearly as nimble as, as a lot of the social agencies back then. I mean, I think that like social was so new back then that like, there just weren't as many rules and we were really able to work a lot faster. I mean, listen, agencies can still work fast, but I think back then we were just lightning fast. It was a lot of fun.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah. And so speaking of complex, you move into the VP of production role there and really interesting time because you were charged with, you know, running this massive content operation, but at the same time, COVID 19 hits and you were charged with moving that entire workflow to the cloud. So tell me how you managed that process.

David Weinstein: Well, I, I, it was the wildest time in my, in the history of my career. Like, I, and, and to be honest, I don't think there was a period of time that I've been more proud of. And I've talked about this a lot. Like, it's like that period just between February of 2020 and May of 2020, the number of people that innovated and pivoted and bought in to preparing and then being proactive against like virus planning and all that was incredible. So we were fortunate. And I, and I think that like, and I, and I have to think, you know, Christian Basler and Justin Killian and Rich Antonello for like buying into all of my like chicken little fear that I kind of was doing in February of 2020, because basically, and I remember this like in early February of 2020, like I think they'd like just shut down Italy.

And I went over to our head of operations at Laundry service and Jay Sleeman, I was basically like, listen, like they're shutting down Italy, what are we doing? And, and I said, I'd like to, I'd like to put together a plan, like just in the event, like they shut New York down. And this was really, like, nobody was thinking that they were gonna shut New York down, but I was like, what do we have to lose? And so it was myself, it was Jen Stewart who was overseeing studio and, and post operations and then our whole production team as well as our IT team Jermaine Harrell and, and, and, and kind of like his department. And we basically just sat down and I remember it was like, I asked our, our, our, our C T O Lexi, I was like, if we needed to work from home and move everything to the cloud and nobody's allowed to leave their houses, can we do that?

And we had this whole meeting and they were basically like, yeah, like we're all set up to do it. So we had already, we had already bought into an iconic, like our, our God, what's the phrase? Like the cloud editing system, right? So we already, we, we already everything up there, like we had our servers set up, we had all of our, our systems set up. And so basically when we started talking in February, 2020, I was like, can we do this? And it was like, yeah. So at that point in mid-February, we sent all of our editors home with gear. We started building out fly kits so that all of our editors had all of their equipment at home. We mandatory made all of our post-production team as well as all of our on-air hosts and producers upgrade their internet. And so we did that before March of 2020.

And we basically, the company paid for that. We basically said, upgrade your internet now, make sure that you have fast internet in case we can't leave our homes. And like, that was our North Star, right? Like, like that was, we had this document called Plan B, and Plan B had three stages, and stage was stage one was like, you can't travel, stage two was you can't get into the office. And I don't know why that was stage two and stage three was, you can't leave your home like total lockdown. And so everything that we prepared for was stage three can't leave your home. So our editors upgraded their Internet's feed, they all went home with equipment. All of our hosts went home with microphones and we ordered ring lights. And so we had all of this stuff done and bought, and in their homes, probably by the first week of March in 2020, so between March 1st and March 13th, 2020, we were rehearsing shows, like remote versions of our shows in the office.

Like I remember for full-size run like we had people in different rooms for Everyday Struggle. We had our hosts, each of our hosts in different rooms around the office teaching them how to be hosts in a remote version. And then two weeks later, we had to do it for real. And so we were so prepared, like I don't think I've seen another company who did what we did where we like, were so proactive and ready to go, so that like when March 15th or whatever rolled around, we flipped the switch and it was like, all right, everything we practice is now being put into place. And I think we were dark for a couple days on Everyday Struggle. And then a week later after the, like, everyone got sent home, we were doing four episodes a day, remote hot ones. We, we had a plan where like, you know, we were like, how do you do Hot Ones remotely?

And so Dominique Burrows and, and, and Chris Sch Berger and the, and the Hot Ones team was like, all right, well, we can, you know, send a box of sauces to our guests and we'll just order wings at their local restaurant. And it's like, we had a plan for that, and we basically created a home version, a remote version for every single one of our. And so we didn't miss a beat. And, and, and so in April of 2020, we ended up, while everybody else was like, oh, this thing is gonna pass, or figuring it out in April of 2020 and May of 2020, we, we launched eight new shows, eight remote shows that we launched a complex, and first we feast. And yeah, like when I say that, that we did as well, if not better than any other production company or media company, I'm not lying like I think we did as, as well as we could have done.

And, and that was a testament to the buy-in from leadership and, and from everybody who believed that we could pivot and innovate. And subsequently we had no layoffs. Complex was one of the only media companies that I knew of that that didn't furlough anybody, didn't lay anybody off. And we ended up creating some shows in that period that we ended up producing two years later. Like Sneaker Battles was a pandemic show that we created that Tony Muey created in April of 2020. That ended up being a show that we produced two years later. Fridge Tours was a show that we produced down the line. So we were really fortunate that we had a lot of people at Complex who were really innovative and empathetic to the fact that like they had to allow for change and, and, and, and pivot and kind of bought into that. So I, I can't say enough, like that was a wild experience, but I'm really proud of what we did. Yeah. Yeah. I'm really proud of what we did.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. And, and you mentioned Iconic curious to know like what your tool set was to move that to the cloud. Like, how are you keeping everyone connected? How are you tracking this without being in the office together?

David Weinstein: Yeah, I mean, so, so with regards to iconic, I mean, it was our head of post Joe Schaffer, our head of Media management, Damon Byrne. And they basically, they got all of our editors on board. So you know, we were, we were obviously recording everything on Zoom, and so everything was being uploaded, you know, proxy files into Icon or Full Files into Iconic, and then they were editing on proxy files. And so Joe was organizing everything and, and then managing that with all of our editors. But he just did a masterful job. I mean, I, I didn't even see it a day to day, but he did something right, because everything was organized and everything was there. And so all of our footage was in the cloud. Every once in a while, somebody would have to come into the office and, you know, dump something or maybe pick something up, but it was very rare in that first few months when like everybody was heightened. Very few people actually came into the office. We did a ton of our, of our content was remote. I think the only exception being after what happened in Louisville with, with Breonna Taylor and, and in Minneapolis with George Floyd at that point, we, we started sending some crews out from Complex News, and then we were capturing some stuff in the field, but otherwise everything was, was remote.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah. Great. And would love to dig into that process a little bit. Now, obviously you're bringing decades of experience with you to this role and have really, you know perfected your process. And I think a lot of our, our listeners and viewers would love to know somebody who's been in these positions that you've been in. What does that process look like? How do you create this workflow for your team, and how are you planning to scale that up with this new company?

David Weinstein: Yeah, for sure. I think so. I mean, if you've ever worked for me, you're probably gonna like get PTSD t by me saying this. But like, you know, there are six things that I kind of say that every producer needs to have. A few of them are, are just being transparent and, and, and having organization, right? Like, it doesn't matter what organization system that is, but you have to have a system, and that system has to enable transparency for all teams, right? And I'm, I've never been one to kind of like, I want everyone to be able to see and access information and to be able to like, to not have to come to you say, Hey, where is this? But rather like, teach me how to use the system and, and let me use it. So right now we, we have a database and kind of pipeline, a content pipeline built an Airtable that was kind of modeled off off a couple processes that I had back in Complex. I can, I can show you. You want me to show you, right?

Nate Watkin: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Let's jump in.

David Weinstein: Yeah, so I mean, I mean, you know, so basically the way, the way that I, I built this system which is a little bit different than all, you know, any system I've done, but the big thing for us was I wanted to make sure that the content that we were posting on social was easily identified by sport and then easily identified by status and then by a grading system, right? And so everything that we do, you know, if I'm going into Chick State Kajitsu, I obviously, I can see, you know, you know, clips that have come in that need to be graded, clips that need to be scheduled, right? So they're already done and, and maybe need to be you know, put on our social calendar. And then obviously clips that have already been aired. And then when I go even deeper into that, then I can see, obviously this has not been graded because these are not been graded clips.

But if I go into like, ready for scheduling then I can kind of go in and I can see, you know, there's some clips that I've given an A or an A minus, and these are our top clips and there's some other clips that, you know, maybe highlights that you know, are, are good but not amazing. And then, you know, I've come across highlights where I'm just gonna like, give it a C or even like a D I'm like, you know, we're probably never gonna air that. But for my purposes, I wanna make sure that we're grading everything. And, and I think the big thing for me, anytime I've ever built out a database is that I don't throw anything away. I don't delete anything like, because there's always gonna be a purpose for anything that's canceled or killed. And there's also gonna be always a purpose for anything that is graded poorly, right?

Like, I want to know like what percentage of the clips that we've edited have been as what percentage have been piece. And so obviously if I go deeper, then I can, you know, see the clips that we have and you know, you know, then we get into greater detail. Like I know the sport name of the clip, obviously what the status is, you know, whether it's a highlight or, you know, it might be, you know, we are organizing by highlights, interviews, memes, features. Is it gonna be a full length episode, a podcast? Maybe it's just a sizzle reel. You know, the aspect ratio, is it vertical? Is it 69? Is it square? Where is it gonna live? What channel is it gonna live on? Certainly the release date, right? It doesn't have a date because it's ready for scheduling. Whatever that post copy might be.

Holy smokes. And then you know who our guest is gonna be like, you know, and, and we're, we're linking that to you know, our, our talent. So, you know, if we have like our golfers or our athletes, we'll be linking that back there. And then certainly what the file name is coming from post who our editor is, maybe I'll delete that. You know, I don't want you to know anybody's name, but I'll scroll back. You know, who our, who our, you know, who our editor is you know, what the frame link is. So we're using Frame IO for our postings, certainly what the grade is, and then where the, where the files are living. And I'm probably gonna, probably gonna blank that out too, cause I don't want people going into seeing where those files are. You know, t r t what the IG link is, where, you know, where it's gonna live on TikTok, if it's gonna live on TikTok or ig, and then music information.

So, you know, for me it's really important just having as much information as possible in the database mm-hmm. <Affirmative> so that, you know, we can always go back and track things a certain way. And then additionally, like, you know, this is our grid view. We've built out a, a, a kind of a Trello conbon view for the same thing. So obviously everything cards here are, you know, the same way that everything is, you know, ready for scheduling scheduled or aired. And then, you know, our other statuses, we've got, you know, ideation pitched, pre-production, something's been recorded, it's in edit, needs to be graded final tweaks, which is not a technical term. So that's kind of our, our basic pipeline for, for all of our social content. And then on the calendar side,

Nate Watkin: Yeah, yeah, sorry, just wanted to jump in and just just clarify, this is all amazing love seeing this. And so clip a clip could be anything. It could be an interview, it could be a social post, like it could be anything, right?

David Weinstein: Yeah. And so right now this is our like, entire post production pipeline. So, you know, at some point, like once we, once we get bigger teams and like if we have like a dedicated social team or dedicated, say, feature team or, or longer form, you know, we might break up this process. But again, like even, even in something like Airtable, like if I wanted to just filter this out, you know, or I'm gonna say like, I only want to see, you know, things where like the video type is, you know, say a highlight, right? And then I can just, you know, show myself. So like, it's easy for me to be able to, to filter things out or if I, you know, if I only want to see things that are memes, obviously we don't have, you know any memes there. But, you know, it, it, it would make it easy for me to be able to, of filter things out and I can create views.

And that's one of the things I like about just working in a database and like any database for that matter. And I think a lot of the, a lot of 'em have the kind of same functionalities is that you can just kind of use filters and, and views to filter things out. Which makes it really easy for you to just be able to see your information the way that you want to see it. If I have a team that's only working on longer form content, then I can create a view for them, you know, I can, you know, just create a view for them and, you know, say, call this, you know, long form view and then, you know, filter it and then just, you know, filter it out. So like, I only want to see where, you know, my video type is say, you know, a full length episode or something like that, right.

And then Right. You know, we can even create views, you know, by only, and like, I also want to see where like, only, you know, I only want to see things that are, you know, only, you know, say a's or a minuses Right. You know, and something like that. Yeah. So like, there's a lot of functionality, like where I can and how I can clean up information and just sort information to make sure that we're seeing it the way, exactly the way that we wanna see it. Yeah. And that's just one of the reasons I like databases in general. Like they just, yeah. I mean, I, I suppose if everybody in the world knew how to use a pivot table or v lookup, we may be mm-hmm. <Affirmative> able to achieve some of the same success, but not everybody knows how to do like b lookups and pivot tables, so,

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah. It's super interesting to see this from someone that's had your types of roles where you're like producing such a volume of content. You know, the world I come from is like more like your traditional project that takes you three to four months to complete. You know, whereas it seems like you're just like cranking out content as a media company would. And so it's interesting. So you're just basically like creating an instance of the clip in here as a, a database entry, attaching your resources, tagging it, and then just tracking that through your pipeline, and then that links out to your Frame io or any sort of external tools you're using within that or around that?

David Weinstein: Yeah, it's a little bit manual in that regard, right? So, like, for example, like it's not integrated, say, into Frame, right? So we would have to like manually put the frame link in there, or, you know, wherever the file's living, like the permanent file, we'd have to manually put that in there. Mm-Hmm. So there's definitely some more manual stuff that we have to do or that our post-production team has to do to make sure that like all of the information is in there. And that's something that is really important to me, right? To make sure that, like, again, I never want to have, like, somebody has to come to me and say, Hey, where does this clip live? Or Hey, where's the live link to that? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, like, it's really important for me to build these systems out and to create that muscle memory across our teams so that when something goes live, you always put that live link in there. And so, like, if a client is asking for it, if a partner is asking for it, if a sponsor is asking for it, it's really easy just to find that link, give it to them and, and, and everything is in the database. And I think that like, that's just a case in, in how you find information, but then there's also like just reporting and, and, and kind of finding some some trends and, and, and stuff like that, which, which allow you to kind of work a little bit smarter and more effectively.

Yeah. and then the other thing I was, yeah, no, it's like, I'm, I, I always say that like I'm the, I'm like thero bas of production. Like, I just want like the one ring to rule them all. Yeah. And like, I just, like, I want every, and it's impossible, right? Like, I think every system that I've ever used, you know, has strengths and, and, and then, you know, like Airtable for example, and I love Airtable, but like, I'm not a big fan of their calendars, right? Whereas, like, I've worked on like programs like Assemble, and I think your calendars are really great. Or maybe, like Smartsheets has really good calendar, Microsoft Products has really calendar. But then I don't really like the way that Smartsheet like works as a database. Yeah. And so, and so, like, I think I talk to other heads of production about this all the time because all we want is for like <laugh>, like the perfect system, and I just don't think it's ever gonna happen. But I think we're in probably the best place we've ever been. I mean, you tell me. I mean, I think we're in a really good place as far as like what's available for, as far as SaaS solutions go.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Well, that's where we're working on you know don't wanna turn this to an ad, but, you know, our goal is to, to to get everything all in one place. So that's our goal. But I I, I totally love seeing these workflows and seeing what other experienced people like yourself are using. It's, it's very insightful. Yeah. For me personally, and of course for our listeners as well. And I know you're just ramping up into this new role here, but, you know, at, at the peak of this system, like when you were at Complex or wherever, like how many clips would you have in here at once?

David Weinstein: At Complex, I mean, complex. The, actually, the interesting thing at Complex was so complex was such a diverse organization, right? Because we had full size run, I'm sorry, not full size run at Complex. We had first we Feast, we had complex kind of the mother brand. We had our branded teams we had soul Collector, which was our sneaker vertical. And so you had a lot of different teams producing content, like creatively, right? First We Feast had their own producers Complex, had their own producers, our branded team had their own producers. And each of those teams, when I came in, in 2019, they all worked really differently, right? Because they were led by different leaders. And so when I started a complex, like my instinct was like, all right, I'm gonna build a system and everyone's gonna come and work in my system, and it's gonna be amazing, and you're all gonna love me.

And I, and I realized pretty quickly, like, that's just impossible. Because we, what we had was, we had really strong leaders on these different verticals who had systems that worked. And so what I had to do kind of coming into it was just make sure that I didn't f up their systems. And so we did use Airtable as far as like a repository for where things lived like as a final resting place. And that was really effective. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, like, we had like an amazing database for all of our shows. We linked it to our talent, so that like, when, like, we were in a meeting for sneaker shopping, and Joe Lap, Puma was like, oh, how many football players have we shot the last three years? And I can just go into it and say like, all right, you know, cuz we were tagging all of our guest talent with affinities or like, we were tagging them, like, you know, so we were able to look up information really quickly.

But on the planning and scheduling side, interestingly enough, all of the teams worked on different calendar systems and they all had their own systems. And I kind of took a step back and decided to not f with that. We had been flirting, you know, when, you know, before the, before the buzzfeed layoffs in December of 2022, we had been talking to Reich and we were looking at them maybe as a permanent solution for that which I really liked a lot. We had been talking to, we talking on a Monday and then obviously I was trying to build something out in Airtable, but again, I don't love air tables calendars, and I don't love like their scheduling abilities, right? So I ended up not building anything out an air table, which would've been a dream. To be honest. I, yeah, I would've loved something like Assemble because that would've allowed us to do it. But also you have to get buy-in from like leadership. It's, it's a lot to kind of build these jig systems. But yeah, scheduling all the different teams scheduled their shows themselves and I kind of backed up, but because we were always on and because like, we had 36 episodes of Hot Ones, 36 episodes of sneaker shopping it was like we didn't take breaks. So it was really easy for for us to stay on track and, and we had great producers who were able to do that though. Yeah. Yeah. Amazing.

Nate Watkin: Well, yeah, switching off, you know, would love to just hear about what you're getting into now. I know you just were hired for a new role, would love to hear what's next. Yep.

David Weinstein: Yeah, so I just started as head of content at Pro-League Network. So I mean, as of as of today, I'm, I'm a couple weeks on the job. This is a really exciting opportunity for me. So pro-League Network is the, the founders Bill, bill and Mike, basically what they've kind of realized, or their theory is that in the, in the live sports world there's a real big white space around when people are able to watch content, right? And so I think if you look at, like right now, for example, today is, is May 18th I think the Lakers are playing tonight, and then there's gonna be a bunch of bass come on. I'm, I'm not into this, I'm not, I I have no opinion on this. You know, so the Lakers and Nuggets are playing tonight. There's gonna be a bunch of baseball games, but there's nothing really during the day.

Well, it's Thursday, so there might be a couple day games. And so if you're somebody who's say like a, even a, a casual or even an arted a sports better, right? And you're, you're betting on sports, there's really nothing for you to bet on during the day on a daylight today. And so what we're basically doing is we're either outright buying or working with existing leagues in sports that you may have heard of, but you didn't know that they were professional sports, like professional mini-golf. And so we have that with the world putting league or sports that you may have never heard of, like Jisu or a a Ford game called Caram, which is a it's a board game that's huge in India and, and, and South Asia that you may have never heard of. And so, like, we're working with all of these really niche sports and, and, and our theory is like, we're gonna fill the schedule in times where there aren't say like, big four sports, and we're gonna create opportunities for you not only watch sports, but bet on them.

And so what we're doing is we're going around the country and we're working with regulators across different states, right? I, I, I believe there are 35 states including or 35 states. And the District of Columbia, I think it's 34, 35, where sports betting is allowed. And we're working with state regulators to get these sports license for legal betting. And then we have integrity officers, and we're working with integrity companies to make sure that everything is safe and that everything is legal and that everything is buttoned up. And Bill and Mike can speak so much better about the, the legalities and all of that. But it's a really exciting company because we're taking a lot of sports that are really fast and really quick and creating opportunities for, for sports fans to bet on them. And if you haven't watched Professional Minigolfer, you haven't watched Kajitsu, which by the way, Kajitsu is amazing.

It's literally ji it's jujitsu inside a car. And like, I can't say enough about this. Like, it's, it's wild. And they're like, they're like some rules that really blew me away. So for example, I guess in regular Jiu-jitsu, you're allowed to use your GH or like the belt from your gh, you're allowed to like, use it as a submission. And I don't know if you're a Jiu-Jitsu fan or not. And so in Kajitsu you are allowed to use like a seatbelt as like a tool to like submit somebody. And the whole idea is that you have to submit your opponent, like there's a steering wheel and like you can use all the parts of the car. It's, it's really, it's, it's a, it's a wild sport. But, but it's a lot of fun to watch. And so that's what I'm doing right now. So I'm heading up our content efforts, working on our live broadcast, working with our social team working on our, our website content, working with our partners across all of our betting partners, and then working with our growing a, a network of, of creators and, and partners across the entire sports landscape. So it's, it's a lot of fun. I'm really excited. I'm really excited for this one. And I get to work back in sports, which I haven't done in a really long time. So,

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it seems like a massive content opportunity just all these different sports and the way you can cover them live in both, you know, original content and all these different types of things you could create around that. So it sounds sounds really, so getting back just to you personally and yeah, away from the production stuff would love to know, you know, just some stuff like what are you watching these days? Like what kind of TV shows, films, like, what, what are you into?

David Weinstein: I watch so little. I mean, to be honest, the thing that I'm doing the most right now is I'm playing the new Zelda game. Like if I'm, I'm not, I'm not gonna lie, tears of the Kingdom came out. And so things, what May 18th Tears of the Kingdom came out last Friday I'm trying to devote as much time as possible, but like, that's happening at like 11:00 PM <laugh>. But to be honest, I've been watching like a, I mean, during the day and like, like, you know, kind of like my working hours and like, I'd say like my working hours, like go till like, you know, whatever, eight, nine, I'm watching a lot of sports. Like I'm watching a lot of like sports and kind of seeing what other sports are doing and trying to get some, and trying to get some inspiration. So I'm watching like a lot of niche sports.

I'm watching Disc Golf, I'm watching like dodge ball. I'm watching like a lot of just regular golf. There's so many golf creators and golf influencers out there. And so like, I'm really spending a lot of time on TikTok and a lot of time on YouTube. Just watching a lot of creator based content. Like, I'd love to say that I watch, like shows I just don't like, and, and I think partly it's because my job is to be focused on, on what's happening on social and mobile and on the internet, and that's just more a lot more relevant to what I'm doing right now. Like, I'm obviously excited for like succession to end, so I can like binge that in one night. Like, I just saw the trailer Yeah. For the Bear. I just saw the trailer for the Bear and like, I'm gonna watch that.

And it's like, there are shows that I'm gonna watch. Yeah. But I'm just not, I'm just not that excited about anything long form right now. And I'm most, I mean, again, I'm in a new job. Like, I remember a complex we took on Twitch as a client, and like that first three months working with Twitch, I probably watched three hours of Twitch content every night just so I could learn the platform and like, and, and like my wife would come into like my office and she's like, why are you watching people doing a S M R and Hot Tubs? And I'd be like, because that's what people do on Twitch. For the record, I, I didn't, I I really didn't watch a ton of as s m R in, in hot tubs. What, but by the way, there's so much as SM r and hot tubs on Twitch.

It's ridiculous. But like, I, but, but I was like, but that's what people are watching. And now Twitch just thinks that's what I watch. But like I was watching, you know, chess chatting stuff, or I was watching people doing gaming stuff, or I was watching people playing chess. By the way, chess, I mean, chess content is something that I'm watching a lot because we're doing this content with Karen, which is this, you know, Indian board game. And so I've been watching a lot of like, the bot Test Sisters and Anna Cramming and all these chess influencers like like grand Mastery Karu, and so all these guys who are doing chess content. Yeah. So yeah, I'm, I'm, well, I'm kind of all over the place. And then, you know, I'm, and I'm watching the, the Nuggets beat the Lakers, obviously, right? <Laugh>,

Nate Watkin: I'm a Denver guy. So, you know, I'm I'm loyal. 

David Weinstein: Oh, man, they look good. They, they, they look good the other day, so, I mean, they're playing tonight, right? Yep. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. I'll probably, I'll probably watch that tonight.

Nate Watkin: Nice. But yeah, no, I love that you you really just immerse yourself in what you're producing and just it's a, it's a good approach. So

David Weinstein: Yeah, I mean, I, if you don't immerse yourself, I don't think there, like, I can't pretend like I know what I'm talking about, right? Like, I can't just, I can't just assume that, like, I know how people are creating content for these sports that I have never experienced or watched. And so for me it's like almost kind of like like method producing where like I just go so deep into the content that I'm producing and kind of force myself to become a fan of it so that I can kind of like train my mind to think about how I'm gonna produce content for that sport or that vertical or that platform. Yeah, because a lot of it's non-native to me, right. And I think that's, yeah, that's partly a generational thing. Like a lot of every time a new content, like a new platform, a new content, it's just not native to me or, or how I'm thinking. So in order for me to get that, I have to go so hard in order to just do my best to understand it.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah. Smart. And so last question to wrap up here. Looking back on your career, going back to when you started hoarding camera equipment when you were 20 years old or whatever that was, yeah. What, what advice would you give to yourself as a young person starting their career in this industry?

David Weinstein: I mean, I think the advice I give myself, well, the, the advice that I would give to myself is the advice that I probably give to every young person that I, that I talk to. Like, you know, it hits me up on LinkedIn or whatever, and, and, and that is just, you have time. Like there's, like, I, I, I can't believe I've been in this industry now for, what is this, 2023. This is coming up on 26 years in the industry, and I still feel like I have so much time to learn and figure this all out. And so when I see people who are in their, say early twenties or late teens, or whenever they're getting started in their careers, they're 13, they're getting started. Like, you have so much time wherever you are in your career to figure it out and to grow and to learn.

So that's probably number one, right? And then the other thing that I say is that and I've posted this on LinkedIn and stuff, like, I think that so many of our skills in production are transferrable to other industries. And I, and I talk about this a lot, and I think that people just need to accept that the skills that you have and the attributes that you have and the qualities that you have as a person, certainly in in the workplace are so transferrable to other things in life. And so, I I just tell people like, if you're not confident that you have the right experience or whatever for a job, think about the skills that you have and think about how they transfer to other places in life. Knowledge bases can be learned, skills are transferrable. And so that's the other thing I probably say the most.

And then the last thing I probably, I tell everyone, you know, whenever you're, you're stuck on things or if you're struggling with something and you're kind of in a hole to make your problem everybody else's problem, because I think that it takes, it takes a village, especially at a company to, to fix things. And so I always tell people like, don't ever think that you're alone because you're not. And there are always people willing to help you out. And if you don't have people willing to help you out the place you're working, you're, you're probably working at the wrong place.

Nate Watkin: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I love that. Definitely can relate to the the producer trans transferring over. I went from a producer to a product manager in a tech company, and I think takes a lot of the same skills.

David Weinstein: So, you know how jealous I am, by the way that you did that.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah. You, I'd love you get into tech.

David Weinstein: No, I'm gonna stay in production for the rest of my life and be miserable, but <laugh> as somebody who like, has, has leaned in so deep on these things and learns, and you and I have talked about it, like, I think it's incredible that you were able to pivot and like build the tool for what you want to do. And I, I'm just, I'm in awe that you, that you pivoted, that you chose this new path, and that you're building something that, that is ultimately helping so many people. So I think it's what you're doing is amazing.

Nate Watkin: Yeah, I appreciate that. And it's it's definitely keeps me excited about it, that I'm solving the problem that I experienced. So

David Weinstein: That's the dream.

Nate Watkin: Cool. Well, thank you for joining. Always good to catch up with you and looking forward to staying in touch.

David Weinstein: All right, Nate, I'll talk to you soon.

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