Lessons Learned and Navigating the Unexpected: Emma’s Advice for Aspiring Producers

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With a diverse background and an unyielding spirit, Emma from Mallinson Television Productions has carved a successful career in the production industry, spearheading captivating projects that leave a lasting impact on audiences.

In our candid conversation, Emma takes us on a journey through her unique career path and the unexpected twists and turns that led her to become a producer. From dreaming of an acting career to discovering her true calling, her story is both inspiring and relatable to anyone navigating their own professional journey.

Looking forward, Emma shares her thoughts on the future of the industry and the emerging trends, with a keen eye on the impact of AI and technological advancements. But beyond the technical aspects, she raises an important concern about nurturing new talent and maintaining diversity in the creative world. Emma is a strong advocate for fostering an inclusive environment that provides opportunities for all, regardless of their backgrounds.

What motivated you to pursue a career as a Producer?

I actually started out wanting to be an actor! But after a year of drama school, I realized a life of steady rejection was perhaps not for me! I kind of fell into production having worked in many guises in the advertising industry but I loved the buzz of bringing people together and making things happen and so decided to follow the producer role as I realized that is what I enjoy most, facilitating the story rather than performing it!

Looking ahead, what trends or changes do you anticipate in the industry, and how do you plan to adapt to them?

Well obviously AI is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, which is being discussed widely and of course we are reading everything mouth ajar and will look to stay ahead of technological advancements if we feel creative they align with our company ethos.

Personally, though, I am more worried about the opportunities for new talent coming into the industry. We were starting to make great leaps in improving diversity in the industry and if art funding continues to be cut by the government then it will just close doors of opportunity for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and it will be an industry that only rich kids can afford to carve a career in.

How do you handle unexpected challenges or setbacks during the production process?

Be proactive, have plan B’s in your back pocket, work with people who you know can pivot and be flexible and above all stay calm and talk things out. No setback is ever managed well by stressing internally on your own.

Could you share an example of a project you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of? What made it special?

I am probably going to go back to my first job! Perhaps nostalgia gilds the memory but I think it was just a very fun and creative period of my career.  I was an assistant producer on a children’s interactive show, a kind of YouTube ahead of its time as it involved user-generated content as well as music videos, game reviews, and custom film and animation. 

We shot content in skateparks and the street. It was called Stuff You and we rolled it out in UCI cinemas across the UK. My role was to bag content from major record companies as well as fashion and gaming brands and worked with the creatives to produce a 40min feature, including getting access to exclusive new computer games the kids could play on the big screen and review live at the end of the screening.  I recruited brand ambassadors to endorse the show and we piloted it across regional towns and cities in the UK. It was a resurrection of Saturday cinema but with an MTV bite to it.

Could you provide any tips for effective project management in the production industry?

For me, it’s prioritizing tasks. A big part of this role is juggling many different tasks and you can easily get weighed down by the many comm channels there are now! I am a fan of the traffic light project management as I have always been a visual learner. I tend to communicate best with images, graphics, and colours. This system is as it sounds, setting the priority of tasks with colours. So I would say lean into tools that suit your style of communicating…and never underestimate the importance of writing things down.

What is your approach to handling creative differences within a production team?

Creativity is so subjective so it is bound to happen, I think most differences are resolved in the same way though, by communicating. Talking things over so everyone feels they can get their point or rationale across. Sometimes compromises have to be made, due to budget constraints, timings, or to meet client objectives. I think everyone in this industry has a lot of experience in the art of compromise!! It always helps to make sure at the end of a project we all hang out, go for a wrap drink, and a reminder we are all part of the same team. And later wash up session so we learn from each brief and keep improving on how we handle differences or problems.

Have you ever had to adapt to unexpected changes in the industry? How did you stay relevant and adaptable?

I feel we all came out of the COVID-19 experience with a greater sense of what we are all capable of. I personally found our global resilience hugely motivating. Every industry was impacted and of course, we are all still feeling the effects of this. I was in awe of how people came together and adapted. We shot commercials with smaller crews, we used playback services for client approvals, we managed relationships remotely, and we put our health and safety before commercial gain. We just kept going as best we could. I think this approach made us all feel stronger and as a result, we are now less fearful of change.

Ema, thank you for collaborating with Storytailors on the “Share the Weight” project. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this project and its overall objective?

The overall objective was to de-stigmatize the disease that is obesity. The young people that shared their stories were the inspiration. Working on this project was very rewarding as it showed a shared experience across different countries and cultures as we shot in the UK, Mexico, and Taiwan. It was made far easier by Storytelling’s reassuring network of experienced crew on the ground so we could ensure consistency of quality for each video as they needed to look like they were part of a series, and they do.

And last but not least, can you share with our readers what piece of advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career as a Producer?

Just get involved in shoots! Am so inspired by how many filmmakers are out there just making stuff!  Reach out to them and offer to produce their films, get work experience with production houses, just build up your confidence and be persistent and consistent in searching for the kinds of projects you’re hoping to work on and the kind of people you want to work with. It can be long hours and a lot of admin so surround yourself with people that you can laugh with!

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