Today work accelerates at the speed of teams.

Creative collaboration is the engine behind so many of the things we love. And the creative teams that tap into it everyday in entertainment, technology, and design understand the power of building something together.

With interviews from execs like Ed Catmull (Pixar), Shona Brown (Google), and Gina Rudan (X); creatives like Nelson Coates (production designer), William Joyce (writer/illustrator), Leah Rama (fashion designer), and Ken Kocienda (Apple hardware designer), this short doc explores the particular challenges of creativity at work.

About the Film

Ten years ago as Higher Education began exploring the potential for new maker technologies to impact learning, faculty at Abilene Christian University worked with filmmakers to make a short film. We interviewed national leaders from Make Magazine to the School of Visual Arts to the New York Hall of Science to think about the potential of these new maker tools and spaces. We premiered We Are Makers at the New Media Conference and at World Maker Faire in NYC in 2013. These event screenings proved valuable not only in expanding the reach of the film but also sparking conversations about making in education far beyond our campus. 

Two years ago, Mike Wiggins approached us with a new project. He wanted to explore how creative collaboration has become an essential skill set for his students in Art and Design. We set out to make a film about creative teams during the 2020 pandemic, just at the moment when remote work became as familiar nationwide as social distancing. What we found in a dozen interviews recorded over the next 18 months was that there were common threads running through conversations with leaders in widely diverse fields. Though the pandemic is not the subject of the final film, it began a reevaluation of the value of assembling together as we design, create, and tell stories. 

Our Team

This film was produced by faculty and filmmakers from Abilene Christian University.

Mike Wiggins | Director, Producer
Mike has taught graphic design at ACU for more than 20 years. He is a working designer with an emphasis on design thinking and the creative process.

Kyle Dickson | Director, Producer
Kyle teaches literature, writing, and film at ACU and since 2011 also directs the AT&T Learning Studio, an in-house media production unit that produces films and digital content to support learning.

Nathan Driskell | Filmmaker, Editor, Designer
Nathan has led film and design projects in the Learning Studio for the last decade. His film work includes the 2020 doc Where Is Palestine? Most recently in 2022 he began work with Zoom as their technical content producer.

Matt Maxwell | Filmmaker, Editor
Matt came to the Learning Studio in 2019 by way of Los Angeles and Midland. That year also premiered his first festival documentary Finding Home in Boomtown. Since coming to ACU he has produced original documentary courses on American Music and the History of Baseball.


Assembly Required features, in order of appearance:

Nelson Coates, Production Designer, Crazy Rich Asians, The Morning Show
Nina Means, Fashion Designer; Director, Austin Community College Fashion Incubator
Andy Pratt, Creative Lead, Google
Shona Brown, Former SVP of Business Operations, Google
José Canales, CEO & Creative Director, Canales & Co.
Gina Rudan, Cultural Alchemist, X, the moonshot factory
Ken Kocienda, Former Software Designer, Apple
Ed Catmull, Co-Founder, Pixar Animation; Former President, Walt Disney Animation
Leah Rama, Fashion Designer, Michael Kors, Karl Lagerfeld, Eileen Fisher
Kim Scott, Author, Radical Candor, Just Work
William Joyce, Writer, Illustrator, Filmmaker, Epic, Rolie Polie Olie
Robert Sutton, Author, Scaling Up Excellence, The No Asshole Rule

Initial interviews were filmed in 2020 and 2021 so the project was made possible by so many who welcomed us into their homes, workplaces, and studios.

Special Thanks

We are particularly grateful for the assistance of those who made these interviews possible. Your support and belief in the project made the final product better.

Gary McCaleb
Kim Scott
Greg Straughn
Robert Sutton

We also wanted to extend thanks to the groups that provided us access for filming, locations for interviews, and additional b-roll that made it possible to tell this story.

ACU Dallas
Austin Community College
Canales & Co.
City of Oakland
Paramount Theatre
Reel FX
Sony Pictures Studios
X, the moonshot factory

The film was underwritten by the College of Arts & Sciences with additional support from the Learning Studio at ACU.