Young producers: the industry's new voices speak out
Last Thursday [2 Feb], Biscuit Filmworks and Electric Theatre Collective hosted their ninth annual Young Producers Dinner. shots caught up with some of the attendees to discuss their inspirations for joining the industry, the challenges the future might bring, and how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the role of producer.
With the last Young Producers Dinner being held on the 6 February 2020, last Thursday’s lively shindig was the first to be held since the pandemic.
The event, held at East London restaurant Bistroteque, brings together producers in the early stages of their careers, to celebrate their successes, network with peers, and form lifelong industry connections and generally offer a supportive, convivial space. Each young producer was nominated by the heads of their agency departments, in recognition of their hard work over the past 12 months.
The YPD is a really special event that celebrates the work of the often unsung heroes of the process.
Jon Purton, MD of Electric Theatre Collective commented: ''It's important that producers get the recognition they deserve as they are often the bearers of bad news, the managers of stress and the backstop for making things happen. The YPD is a really special event that celebrates the work of the often unsung heroes of the process. Long standing relationships are built and good times are had.''
Production is the glue that binds client, creatives and production companies together.
Rupert Reynolds-MacLean, MD of Biscuit Filmworks UK added : "I am so proud that we could bring back the Young Producers Dinner for our ninth year. After a Covid-enforced hiatus, it is more important than ever to celebrate the fresh, young talent coming through the industry, and for agencies, production companies, and post-production to support each other and work together.
"Production is the glue that binds client, creatives and production companies together, and the more networks and bonds that we can form at a younger age in this industry, the better.
"We’ve got an incredibly talented and exciting group this year, and it bodes well for the future of the industry."
The full list of attendees can be found at the foot of this article, and, below, we talk to a selection of the young producers to ask them about their role and how it changed after Covid-19, what challenges they believe the future might hold, and the importance of networking with their peers.
Above: Rupert Reynolds-MacLean, Jon Purton
What was it that attracted you to the industry, and the role, in the first place?
Jessica Watkins Homeyard: I’ve been in the industry for a while as a Senior Account Manager but it didn’t feel quite right. I realised I wasn’t getting close enough to the actual making part – this is when I started to get excited about the project! So I decided to make the move last year into production.
I was fixated on the method behind an ad - how it actually gets made and the craft involved in that; so I moved into production.
Meg Everett: I thought I wanted to be a photographer, but after my first stint of work experience as a lighting assistant in a studio, I saw all these stylish, confident women working away on the floor above which left me wondering who they were. Turns out, they were the people pulling the shoots together, and after a few chats, I realised I was on the wrong floor and wanted to get into production.
Henry Davies: I started off in client services, but I always felt that I was in the wrong part of the business. I was fixated on the method behind an ad - how it actually gets made and the craft involved in that; so I moved into production.
I was utterly inspired and baffled from a young age as to how such a cool job existed!
Becca Ellis: I discovered the industry through my Auntie, Frances Royle, who was travelling the world, producing amazing work and I was utterly inspired and baffled from a young age as to how such a cool job existed! I felt that I’d struck it lucky because they don’t tell you about this sort of thing at school!
Izzy Woods: I wanted to work in London at an advertising agency, but originally started in our talent department. Once I was going on shoots with the talent and seeing how production worked I knew I wanted to move into production.
Above: Becca Ellis, Isa Rehman and Isabel Chapman.
Was there a particular piece of advertising work that inspired you to get into advertising? And was there a particular piece of work from the last 12 months that made you say, 'I wish I'd made that!'?
Kate Reynolds: Coming from a sport degree background I’ll always love Kim Gehrig’s This Girl Can. Seeing a piece of work directed by a woman championing female strength, body positivity and unity seemed pretty cool to me.
Maddy Holmes: One piece of work that made me think “I want to make cool stuff like that” was Bodyform's #wombstories. It’s a strong example of a brand platform successfully merging commercial and educational channels together to open up important conversations around women’s health - through powerful and memorable creative.
There were a lot of great ads growing up in the 90’s.
Rhyanna Taylor Hogan: No particular bit of work that drove me into advertising, but in the last 12 months it has to be Kim Gehrig’s Greatest spot for Apple. Such a beautiful film with an absolute powerhouse of a director.
Georgia Day: There were a lot of great ads growing up in the 90’s, Dr Pepper's What’s the worst that can happen and Cadbury’s Gorilla always stick in my mind. Sometimes simplicity and downright madness is best… It’s got to be Belvedere Vodka. Daniel Craig dancing… Genius
I remember the whole cinema being silenced by the Think! Road Safety ad. In my mind it felt so different to all other ads at the time.
Henry Davies: I remember the whole cinema being silenced by the Think! Road Safety ad. In my mind it felt so different to all other ads at the time. Most noticeably because it was shot entirely on a shaky mobile phone (a Nokia410) but looking back now I can see it didn’t follow the usual advertising formulas: no mention of the brand until the end; no voice over or jingle etc.
Above: Lucy Trower, Maddie Ramsay, Ihsan Kemal
What’s currently the most difficult part of your job?
Teresa Luque: Being able to keep up with trends, new ways of producing and looking into up-and-coming talents. Encouraging our agency partners to think differently, sometimes the client wants to take some risks and go with the wild card. Never underestimate the unexpected!
Manon Rees: As a producer essentially you’re everyone’s mum (production mum) Keeping your team happy all the time is hard. Half of the job is managing people just as much as managing the production.
The time, cost and quality triangle that producers often find themselves somewhere in-between.
George Ward: The obvious answer relates to the time, cost and quality triangle that producers often find themselves somewhere in-between. But I think that is part of the job, finding quality solutions when you have limited time and money. For me, it’s people management and managing expectations.
Maddy Holmes: Striking that balance between protecting your creatives and delivering for your client, all whilst producing the best quality work possible. Sometimes it can feel like the whole world rests upon your shoulders, which is why building that network of producers around you is so essential.
Giving myself permission to know I won’t always have the answers, but also when to trust my gut.
Rhyanna Taylor Hogan: Giving myself permission to know I won’t always have the answers, but also when to trust my gut if I feel something isn’t possible (but needing to explore each avenue anyway to say you did). Sometimes delivering a ‘I’m not sure that’s possible’ can make you feel like the bad guy, but at the end of the day if you have the trust of your creatives with problem solving then it’s all good.
Niko Browne: Post covid advertising brings many challenges - client money spend being at the forefront. It's more difficult to negotiate a high enough fee with the supplier that they don't feel hard done by, but low enough that the client is more likely to pursue the job.
Above: Olive Andrews, Teresa Luque, George Ward
And the most rewarding?
Ihsan Kemal: The most rewarding is being on set and seeing all your hard work come to life as well as finally seeing your work out in the world. My most recent work was on during every World Cup ad break, so I saw it a lot!
Lucy Trower: So much of what we do is unacknowledged and not recognised to those outside the industry, however I always get a real sense of pride when I see a campaign that I’ve worked on go live.
Kate Reynolds: Working with a team and client who’s ambitions are aligned to make brave work. Getting to the finish line together, with a piece of work that makes everyone proud to have their name on it. And the rest of the industry wish they’d done it.
It’s got to be the versatility of the job. It’s exciting and motivating because no two days are ever the same.
Olive Andrews: When you manage to pull off a tricky shoot / project and it all comes together. No better feeling!
Phoebe Mousley Jones: I am most motivated and excited by work that pushes beyond the shape and scope of traditional advertising, requires an innovative production approach or presents a new challenge.
The ability to say “I made that” when you see your ad on TV or online.
Maddie Ramsay: Getting to work with super talented and interesting people on cool projects every day, they make it feel less like “work” and more of a creative outlet.
Above: Georgia Day, Henry Davies, Manon Rees
What do you think the main challenges will be in your role – or for the industry in general - over the next few years?
Teresa Luque: Grabbing people's attention - now even a 6sec is considered long or boring. People just skip the YouTube bumpers or pass the IG Stories ads. We need to showcase our brands within the first 3sec, otherwise the audience will scroll down the content without even noticing who is behind the ad.
Budgets are getting smaller, yet client expectations don’t seem to be changing, if anything, they want more!
Maddie Ramsay: Budgets are getting smaller, yet client expectations don’t seem to be changing, if anything, they want more! Timelines are also getting shorter, which is a shame because we can’t dedicate as much time to the work as we’d like, we have to rush and then the creative suffers. It’s a challenge, but it makes it even more rewarding when it all comes together!
Izzy Woods: Adapting to ever-changing briefs/demands around social media, or creatively being boxed in by more and more rules.
I would really love true representation of different communities across all levels to be seen in our industry.
Jessica Watkins Homeyard: I would really love true representation of different communities across all levels to be seen in our industry and for us all to ensure that any work being created with a community actually works with people from that community, right from the start through to the end.
Ihsan Kemal: Budgets – these have slowly been on the decline or clients are expecting to get more out of the same budget they had previously. This obviously has a significant impact on the way I work on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully out of these constraints new, creative solutions are born.
Above: Izzy Woods, Maddy Holmes, Phoebe Mousley Jones
What impact do you think the pandemic had upon the producers’ role in the industry and how did it affect your career development?
Isa Rehman: I joined the industry as the pandemic was ending, which was around the same time the boom in production was starting, with rules being eased. Fortunately, I was lucky to start my career at this point because it allowed me to jump into production because of the increase in demand. Neverland was also growing massively, so this, paired with the fact that everyone was now going into office allowed me to progress further in my role.
It turned the whole industry upside down, I don’t think I will ever fully know how much it affected my career development.
Olive Andrews: It turned the whole industry upside down, I don’t think I will ever fully know how much it affected my career development, but I will say, I had
great producers around me who continued to teach me even though they were learning something new at the same time. So that helped significantly.
Meg Everett: I would guess it probably takes young producers longer to absorb knowledge as we have less face-to-face time with other producers. However, I can’t imagine a world where remote working didn’t exist. I’ll be the first to admit how much I love and appreciate a WFH day mid-week, it’s life changing!
It was amazing how quickly the industry reacted to the pandemic and how soon new production techniques became the norm
Henry Davies: It was definitely a challenging time for the production industry and we are still feeling the effects of it. A big part of producing is problem solving and the pandemic was a big one to work around, but it was amazing how quickly the industry reacted to the pandemic and how soon new production techniques became the norm.
Isabel Chapman: The pandemic definitely made the industry have to adapt to a new way of working and producers had to adapt to this as well. Unfortunately, the pandemic did halt my career development as I was let go from my job at the very start of the pandemic, and a lot of companies paused hiring due to the uncertainty of what was happening, so I felt I lost over a year of my progress. But as I got let go it did make me rethink what I wanted to do, and I found an opportunity that I wouldn’t have necessarily found or got into where I was working pre pandemic.
Above: Meg Everett, Rhyanna Taylor Hogan, Niko Browne
How important is it to network with your peers from other agencies?
Kate Reynolds: Invaluable. I’ve made connections & genuine friends within agencies & the industry in general who’ll stay with me. I don’t feel a sense of competitiveness but more shared interest. Everyone wants everyone to do well. Network is power.
Becca Ellis: Having gone on the IPA course this year it has been brilliant to connect with many talented and knowledgeable young producers - it will be great to progress together in the industry and sound each other out on our experiences and tricky situations we come across along the way.
You always have to respect other agencies and the people in them. Let’s all make truly great work and having fun whilst doing it!
Isa Rehman: It’s very important to me. I think it’s so easy to be competitive with other agencies out there, as the quality and standards are so high. However, at the end of the day we all share a common belief and are striving for the same goal. You always have to respect other agencies and the people in them. Let’s all make truly great work and having fun whilst doing it!
Niko Browne: I moved from New Zealand to the UK in the last 6 months, so networking for me is essential to perform well as a producer. Moving countries with a blank slate really makes you appreciate how important a little black book is!
Having that support network around you as a producer is priceless.
Isabel Chapman: Networking is so important, it’s great to be able to share contacts and bounce ideas off one another and problem solve anything that may arise.
Olive Andrews: I think its super important, producing can be such a lonely job so it’s great getting to know other people in the industry. Having that support network around you as a producer is priceless.
Above: Jessica Watkins Homeyard, Kate Reynolds
The full list of young producers in attendance at the event were;
Young Producer’s / AP's: India Johnson - Above&Beyond; Meghan Everett - AMV BBDO; Rhyanna Taylor Hogan - Havas; George Ward - Ogilvy; Henry Davies - Wonderhood; Madie Ramsay - VMLY&R; Isabel Chapman - Wunderman; Magdalena Kozak - Karmarama; Ihsan Kemal - M&C Saatchi; Olive Andrews - NCA; Isa Rehman - Neverland; Manon Rees - Droga 5; Maddy Holmes - Wearegirl&bear; Lucy Trower - The & Partnership; Georgia Day - Anomaly; Niko Brown - Wonderhood; Ellie Thornton - Y&R; Becca Ellis - BBH; Izzy Woods - The Corner; Cordelia Grossman - Iris; Lea Georgiev - W&K; Phoebe Mousley Jones - Uncommon; Jemma Hamid - Mullenlowe; Jessica Watkins Homeyard - Saatchi & Saatchi; Kate Reynolds - Grey; Teresa Luque - Coca Cola.
ETC: Jess Easton - Head of New Business; Jon Purton - MD; Olivia Jessop - producer; George Cooper - producer.
Biscuit: Rupert Reynolds-Maclean- MD; Samantha Chitty - EP; Adam Oyejobi; Tamsin Hicks, head of sales.