There is no “typical” day in my job. You never know what’s around the corner. For six years, I’ve led a broadcast team facilitating delivery of all the action and excitement of Formula 1. During this time, our deployment of bespoke flyaway systems has enabled clients to provide consistently seamless footage from all 21 Formula 1 Grand Prix events across the globe.
My job sees me take direct responsibility for all areas of the project’s management, from initial proposal, design and planning through to onsite delivery at all race locations. A key aspect of my role is to manage relationships in order to provide clients with a positive experience. I wear many hats to make this happen. I would say my main asset is a key understanding of core motivators in the decision-making process plus strong team management.
The 2019 season was the first year of our contract with Whisper TV, the company behind Channel 4’s free-to-air race highlight packages. Careful planning, innovative use of tech and the invaluable experience of my team meant we were able to deliver a powerful portable solution optimised for international shipping and weight reduction. We had access to the expertise, technology and crew that were needed to deliver Whisper’s precise requirements within a tight budget.
Being constantly challenged and required to use every ounce of my experience to problem solve keeps me driven. In some ways, this job doesn’t actually feel like work. It’s very stimulating, very fun to be a part of, it keeps me motivated.Being in transit so much can take its toll though. It’s hard to be travelling so much.
When I joined as Head of Sound in 2007, the company was much smaller. Today, although much bigger, it still feels like a small company attitude exists in terms of company culture. The senior leadership team and company owner are very approachable. I think anyone working for a company should be able to feel like that, that they should have a direct line of communication to anyone within the business.
A big drawcard for new employees as the company continues to grow is the breadth and scope of what they will have the opportunity to work on. Big, or new projects typically pull in staff across departments to problem solve at key planning stages. It’s a really engaging process to be a part of.
TYPICAL RACE WEEK:
Varying amounts of international travel is the most tedious part of my job. Some days I’m getting in a taxi to Heathrow, other days it’s jumping in a hire car from the hotel all the way to the circuit. There are 21 Formula 1 events held across the globe between March and December. Just getting to the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit takes a full two days.
Time to focus on the equipment set-up. Our client Whisper Films needs to be able to hit the ground running in order to provide Channel 4 with seamless race highlights packages. Careful team management is vital during the set-up process, which takes two days. Technical know-how is also needed. It’s important for me to understand and know every system we are supplying for the client on site.
There’s a shift in operational mode from technical aspects to production support. My team is there to ensure all the equipment operates as it should and to ensure operators receive any necessary on-the-job training or support. In the black and white world of engineering things can and do go wrong. You have to have back-ups and strategies to deal with these issues. My job is all about ensuring the client can relax and just be safe in the knowledge that on the day, everything will be fine!
I arrive onsite with the technical and productions teams 4-5hrs before the start of the race. We perform local checks to confirm all our equipment in the TV Compound, Commentary and Field is connected and working properly. Communications are established with our London counterparts prior to a production meeting. We will also perform a ‘Lineup’ back to London. This is simply a series of Video, Audio and Communications tests to prove all circuits are available and working correctly. Our Executive Producer will then lead us through the production meeting which is held over a video conference between the circuit and London. A rundown outlining all items to be recorded and shot onsite will be discussed along with all locations required to be covered. Once the team is happy any issues have been discussed the team will disperse to shoot pre-recorded material, for example drivers arriving to the circuit. During the race, I will be positioned either in the TV Compound or in the field depending on production or technical requirements. Once we are clear of all Production duties, I will lead our teach team into the de-rig. This usually takes 2-3hrs depending on the circuit (and weather). Once I have packed and handed all equipment to DHL for transport to the next race, we normally crack a DRB (De-Rig Beer) and head back to the hotel for some well needed rest!
What advice would you give a job seeker who’s thinking about applying for a job with Gravity Media?
Grab a second passport and free up the next ten years, they go quickly!
When you tell people about your job what’s one thing that surprises them, or gets them excited about the work you do?
The travel, the sporting events I have the pleasure of attending and the variety of work. Never a dull moment.
What is your most favourite project you have worked on with Gravity Media?
I always loved working so closely with tennis greats such as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer previously on the ATP Tour, however seeing a Ferrari driven by Charles Leclerc win the Formula 1 in Italy and joining the Tifosi to celebrate at the Podium in Monza was a highlight!