We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Elkus Gross and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Many factors have gone into the success of my business. The first is probably perseverance, especially when starting the business, I had to keep going despite rejection, discouraging advice (“You’ll never be able to do that!”) and inevitable setbacks. The second is passion, I’m passionate about the work, and I bring that love for the art and artistry with me to each project. The third, which came later in the business, is assembling a great team. I’ve been lucky to find amazingly talented, hard-working people to work with me, and their input and contributions became essential to the company and the brand. I would also put kindness high on the list of what made L.E.G. Productions successful. If I am kind to my employees and value them and their input, it makes everything we all do so much better. If I am kind to my clients, who have often become friends, it builds the bonds of the work, especially when you are working in a creative field, where your work is definitely a part of the definition of who you are. I think part of success is also failure, making mistakes, learning from them. Whenever we’d have a big mistake on a project, I’d gather the team. First, we had to figure out a solution. Then, after we solved the problem, we’d have a post mortem to figure out what went wrong. It was not to place blame, but to learn. I’d often say, “Well, we won’t make that mistake again. Next time, we’ll make a new mistake.” After all, we’re all only human. Striving for perfection is great, attaining it…not so easy!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At L.E.G. Productions we are creative content producers. That ranges from electronic press kits to Blu-ray bonus features to TV shows to webisodes and beyond. Our specialty is documenting behind-the-scenes of animated films. We have been privileged to work with some of the greatest filmmakers in animation, clients have included Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Sony, Universal, LAIKA, and Netflix, among many others. It’s our responsibility to show off the incredible artistry behind the films we work on, to give the audience a peek at the passion, commitment and hard work that goes into their favorite animated films. I started my career as a rock and roll print journalist (I have great stories!), then moved into radio and finally television. A publicist at Disney asked us to create an EPK for the VHS (remember those?) release of “Sleeping Beauty,” and we moved into that type of work. I am a total animation geek, so it was a perfect fit. We’ve worked on almost every Disney classic re-release, and, of course, new films, too. My favorite projects of all time are: “Coraline,” “Surf’s Up,” “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” “Toy Story 2,” and “The Beatles Anthology.” That last is the remains of my rock and roll career, having The Beatles as clients is beyond sublime!! By the way, it’s never easy. It wasn’t easy to start the company, grow the company, transform as the needs of the industry changed, it’s always hard. It’s also always worth it. How do you overcome the challenges? Work really hard, never give up, share credit, take the blame when you misstep, and care about the work and the people you work with.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My first thought of the best time ever is a long walk on Zuma Beach, made even better if there are dolphins that day. I do this as often as I possibly can, and I absolutely love it. If I had a week, I’d take my friend to Laguna Beach to stay at the Surf and Sand Hotel (yes, can you tell I love the beach). It’s right on the sand, and their restaurant is amazing. We could walk through the town filled with art galleries and fabulous little shops. From there, I’d go to Disneyland, and stay overnight at Disney’s Grand Californian. We’d eat dinner at the Carthay Circle in Disney’s California Adventure, a truly gourmet restaurant in the heart of the Disneyland experience. Coming back to LA, we’d definitely go to Salt and Straw, the best ice cream shop in the world! They have incredible, unique flavors. We’d definitely have to eat at either Pizzeria Mozza or Osteria Mozza – or both! The best sushi is at Sugarfish, the one in Calabasas is great, and you can sit by their babbling brook as you eat. We could have an acai bowl next door at Sunlife Organics. I’d want to take in a play (or two) at the Pantages, Mark Taper or Ahmanson, I love live theatre. And, then, movies! It would be great to go to a movie or two, get a large, outrageously fattening popcorn, and sit in a dark theatre going through a fantastical adventure created in someone’s mind. Even better if it were a movie I’d been able to document the making of! If it were summertime, we could sit in my backyard, enjoy a meal, and even swim. That sounds like an idyllic week!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would say the person I would share the credit with for my success is my co-producer and editor, Matt Levitz. We have worked together for 29 years, and he is the most creative, dedicated, hard-working person. He also rarely likes to be in the spotlight or take credit, but he does deserve it. With the pandemic, and losing the ability to work side-by-side as we often do in the edit bay, we’ve both learned of even more ways we counted on each other in our endeavors. Of course, we often worked separately, too, so it wasn’t impossible to adapt, but I think we’ve appreciated even more the value of our collaboration. He’s also the most honest person I think I’ve ever known. Every now and then, when we worked in the same office, I’d find some coins on my desk. “What are those for?” I’d ask Matt. “Oh, I took a stamp, so I’m paying for it.” “Matt, you can take as many stamps as you like, you don’t need to pay for them.” “But, it was for a personal item.” I told him repeatedly that I was happy to give him a few stamps. He always paid. He’s a really good guy.