Lights. Camera. De-industrialize!

Insight Film Studios, which rocketed to fame in BC over the past three years with some $400 million in film and television production, is shedding 25 per cent of its staff roster and turning some into contractors.

And that’s just the beginning. Apparently it plans to eventually have only 20 core employees and 100 contractors, which would actually make it larger than it was before the recent “cut”.

Of course, many are moaning about this “layoff”. The press chalks it up to the tally of jobs lost due to the recession, even though more people will eventually be working for Insight.

But that’s because they are thinking in old, 20th-Century business models that are totally unsuited to today.

Insight is simply returning to the “movie model” of production. It was an anomaly in that it attempted to use the studio model in the first place. This industrial model, in which you hire a bunch of people and build a place for them to go every day to produce things, is just like a wood processing plant, or an auto plant.

And just like those industrial brothers, when business contracts, you have to lay those people off, and idle a lot of space.

But that’s very much an old-economy structure based on economies of scale. Rarely today have films been made completely in-house.

The industrial model is totally unsuited for creative and knowledge industries (which includes design, technology, science, education and other businesses in which results are products of thinking, not doing) that are increasingly dominating the landscape. In the movie model, skilled people are brought together for a project, and then dispersed after its done, in an ever expanding network of relationships.

So in a way Insight has become a visible symbol of the de-industrialization that’s going on today. Many companies today that don’t require physical space or machinery, have a core management operation and outsource all the doing.

This new model is better suited to times of rapid change because it’s much more flexible and responsive to expansion or contraction conditions.

Given the economic situation today, I’d say we’re there.