As a Production Manager, I’m responsible for overseeing multiple contracts for high-profile events.
Problem solving is a huge part of the job, as everyone looks to the Production Manager to fix any issues, particularly on the day of an event. You definitely need a willingness to take on any task necessary in this role.
Of the five clients I look after, the biggest is The Football Association (FA). During last season’s FA Cup, we provided 28 Outside Broadcasts delivering top-quality, multi-camera match coverage, as well as World Feeds, Promo’s, Preview Shows and Highlights packages.
I love the variation in my job – it never gets boring. Every shoot is different, and you’re guaranteed to learn something new with every production.
During the lead-up to big events, especially mid-season, I can expect to work long hours, including some evenings and weekends. There’s a good balance though, as our days are shorter during the summer months.
During the week, I usually arrive at the office in Chiswick for 10am. I live in Notting Hill, so the commute isn’t too bad. I’ll check through my inbox and make a to-do list for the day. I rely on lists and timelines as I’m usually juggling at least four projects at varying stages. It’s important to be thoroughly organised, as with so much going on it’s easy to miss something. You don’t want a small detail to snowball into a massive issue on-site.
Next, it’s likely I’ll spend some time on the phone with clients. If a project is in the early stages we’ll discuss budget and requirements as well as ideas for the production.
After that, I may spend time emailing freelance directors and producers, booking them for future dates, before checking in with technical managers and colleagues from other departments. As a Production Manager, I liaise with all other departments regularly – from graphics and design, to the engineering and technical teams. Part of my job is bringing all the different elements of a shoot together.
Despite working some unsociable hours, there’s a great social atmosphere here. It’s good to have friends at work and it also helps the productions. When you get to know the team on a personal level, you can build trust and improve communication.
In my role, an important task is putting together a call sheet for each shoot. So the afternoon could see me doing this. A call sheet contains every detail of an upcoming production, from logistical arrangements, such as which hotels crew will stay at, to camera plans and everything else on the technical side, as well as risk assessments and other health and safety information. There could be more than a hundred people working on a job and on the day, they will all look to you as the point of contact. Everything relevant to that production needs to be in the call sheet.
Finally, I might need to spend some time tracking costs for a previous event, and working out how much to bill the client, before finishing up the working day at 6pm. I may need to stay on later, if it’s really busy or an issue comes up. You have to be able to solve problems quickly and efficiently in this job, while also having the foresight to anticipate potential future issues.
While my work can get stressful, it’s definitely worth it. Being pitch-side for the Six Nations or FA Cup final and working closely with such talented sports people is an amazing experience.
THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
Every shoot is different, yet the process for each production is similar. First, I’ll speak to the client about what they want and their budget, and determine what we can do for them, before providing a quotation.
Next is the planning stage. Arranging which producers, camera operators, OB company etc, are most appropriate for the job. I work closely with producers and tech managers for this, as they are the original vision for what’s required for the best production.
After that, it’s time to start thinking logistically – do we need any permissions, for instance. There’s time scales to consider, and the edits for post-production. Also, speaking to the venue about things like health and safety and parking permits.
Now I need to put everything together into one place - that’s the call sheet. All information relevant to the production needs to be there, as everyone involved has to know what’s going on.
On the day, it’s my job to make sure everyone, including the client, is happy and that the team has what they need to work. There is a very real element of unpredictability. Any problem that comes in on the day must be dealt with – as a Production Manager, there’s really no boundary to what your task may be.
After an event, I need to ensure everything has been paid for and that every freelancer has a Purchase Order (PO). Finally, I will take account of tracked costs before working out how much to bill the client.
What advice would you give a job seeker who’s thinking about applying for a job with Gravity Media?
Be open to learning as much as you can and be prepared to step in wherever needed. A brilliant thing about Gravity Media is that opportunities to learn new skills across different areas of the business are there for the taking. Be willing to ask questions and get ready to build the career you want.
When you tell people about your job, what’s one thing that surprises them, or gets them excited about the work you do?
The high-profile nature of the projects we do is exciting. Family and friends tuning in will often text me pictures of live events I’m working on. I still get the odd moment myself when I think ‘wow, this is my job’. Walking out of the tunnel during the Six Nations, for instance.
What is your most favourite project you have worked on with Gravity Media?
Travelling around France for a month last summer following the teams playing in the FIFA Women's World Cup was amazing.