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Netflix: Creativity and Freedom

Former Vice President, Head of International Originals, at Netflix

IP Interview
Published on January 4, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • The trade off between a culture of creativity and organisation at Netflix
Executive Bio

Erik Barmack

Former Vice President, Head of International Originals, at Netflix

Erik was responsible for the strategy, team management, and production of Netflix Originals outside of the US. He managed over 40 production and finance executives and led the production of various critically acclaimed shows such as Dark and Casa de las Flores. He was a key figure in scaling Netflix globally to regions such as India, Mexico, and Europe where Netflix now produces tens of local language shows. Erik joined Netflix in 2011 as Global Content Director after spending six years leading ESPN Business Development. He left Netflix in April 2019 to launch his own development and production house of shows outside the US.

Interview Transcript

How did you find that the environment at Netflix encouraged creativity and freedom?

I really liked it. I thought it was an incredible structure for people to do the best work of their lives. It requires people to be a little bit aggressive and a little bit bold. I don’t think it’s a culture where the meek do well or people that trying to consensus build, they also might not do as well.

There’s a messiness to it. You have probably heard this, with people in Netflix saying that there are many paths to yes; or that there are many different groups that can look at the same project, which is really what that means. Sometimes, when you are on the production side, which is where I am now, it might be confusing, who you should take what project to. There is a little bit of a downside to the messiness of all these different paths that can converge.

But for the most part, I think that formulation is winning, because global platforms just require so much content and so much different type of content and you need to test into it. I think it’s more likely that media companies are going to look more like Netflix than traditional studios or linear networks, over time.

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