Mary Crosse’s 15 years of experience bridges both the agency and production company worlds, offering clients creative and efficient production management and content distribution strategy. She is known for supporting filmmakers who are powerful storytellers and have a keen understanding of technology and modern distribution to make every project a success.
Prior to founding Derby in 2015, Crosse founded Big Block Live in New York, developing the company’s New York office and first roster of directors and live action production discipline. Prior to that, Crosse held an Executive Producer role at Click 3X and at Lucky Branded Entertainment. She also spent more than a decade at a variety of agency heavyweights, including FCB, Publicis, Havas and mcgarrybowen. Crosse’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to co-found On My Block Films in 2012, a non-profit that facilitates the building of stronger neighborhoods through the creative and collaborative process of filmmaking
How did you get into the Production/Advertising industry?
I always wanted to work in production, and my first job in the industry was an entry-level role as an office production assistant and receptionist at one of the top commercial production companies of its time. It was there that I started to understand the industry and make contacts, but I was quickly lured over to the advertising agency side of the business. I grew my career from production and project management to strategy and new business development across several large agencies. At times, I thought I had left my early roots of working at a production company very far behind. It wasn’t until 11 years of ad agency experience later that I had a role at a hybrid ad agency/production company startup where all the various experiences I had over the years came together and made perfect sense. From that point on, I flipped entirely back over to the production company world where I have been for the last 6 years. It’s a career path that couldn’t be replicated, but I wouldn’t be as successful now if I hadn’t had the variety of experience that I did.
Tell us about Derby. How did it come to be and what is your vision for the company?
Derby is something that in some ways was a long time coming. I held various Executive Producer roles where it was necessary that I be very entrepreneurial. Even though the traditional production company business model doesn’t appear to vary much from company to company, modern needs of clients and advertising are requiring new demands on old models. Derby is a live action production company that offers clients an all-in-one production package offering without compromise on the post-production.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have contributed to Derby's success?
Soon after launching Derby, the need for establishing strong post-production partners to offer full service capabilities was needed. Derby was launched under the Sound Lounge umbrella because if its best-in-class audio post-production, and aligning with Nice Shoes for their creative studio and color made so much sense. Sound Lounge and Nice Shoes already had a common respect for each other from our clients and have very similar histories. We recently also aligned with Groove Guild, which has a very modern take on advertising music services, by taking on the role of music supervisors and consulting with clients to find the best music -- whether it’s custom, licensed or stock.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
Six or seven years ago, when I was involved with Lucky Branded Entertainment, our vision was to create a hybrid ad agency and production company. While we were involved in very interesting projects and some of the most exciting work of my career, the industry overall wasn’t quite ready for our structure. It’s interesting how that structure is so much more common now and how brands are seeking out the efficiencies of working with production companies directly.
What’s your greatest success having launched Derby & serving as Executive Producer? What was your most difficult moment — how did you overcome it and what did you learn?
We are a young company and are celebrating successes every day, all the while getting through the difficult moments in the same breath. Perhaps the launch of Derby, in and of itself, was both the most difficult and greatest success at the same time. There are so many hurdles along the way to starting a new company, but realizing that’s just the start is also humbling.
Any advice to share for an aspiring entrepreneur / professional in the industry?
I always tell people to keep their relationships strong and to keep their networks updated. If you’re doing good work, the opportunities will follow.
Describe the ideal experience for a client who partners with Derby.
Clients are able to work with Derby as a live action production company in a traditional sense, but they are also able to work with us for our full package offering including all post-production at Nice Shoes, music at Groove Guild and audio post at Sound Lounge. Several clients have also recently come to us for original creative development.
How do you motivate your employees?
By challenging them, and trusting that they will rock it each and every time. Having a solid team is the most important aspect of a successful new company, and I am lucky to have launched Derby with an incredible group of go-getters with great attitudes who impress me every single day.
What's next for Derby?
Our first Derby Day party is coming up, which we are really excited about. We have new work in production which is launching this Spring, both branded for advertising agency clients as well as original content for entertainment clients.