Young agency producers: hopes and dreams of the next generation
Biscuit Filmworks and Electric Theatre Collective proudly hosted their tenth annual Young Producers Dinner at East London's Bistroteque last night [1 Feb]. shots joined in the revelry and chatted with guests to discuss their experiences of entering the industry and the potential challenges that lie ahead.
Producers in the first flushes of their careers gathered for a spot of mingling at the Young Producers Dinner in East London last night.
Each young producer was nominated by the heads of their agency departments, in recognition of their hard work over the past year. Over fine wines and top nosh they celebrated their successes with their peers and swapped tales from the production frontline.
"Reflecting on a decade of these dinners, it's inspiring to see the growth of producers within the industry. The connections and relationships established early on in production have proven to be invaluable, and this year's gathering showcases another talented and exciting group, setting a solid foundation for the industry's future. Many from previous years have gone on to run TV departments and production companies since attending. I’m looking forward to working for some of this year's alumni in the future."
Jon Purton, MD of Electric Theatre Collective added: "This is such a brilliant event. Producers are often the unsung heroes, as there aren’t that many points where they get sole recognition and reward for holding everything together, so this night always feels really special."
Above: Jon Purton, Rupert Reynolds-MacLean
What was it that attracted you to the industry, and the role, in the first place?
Dillon Palmer - The&Partnership: I can’t say I came into industry intending to become a producer. I started my career as an in-house runner and was exposed to all the various roles and responsibilities at the agency. I absorbed everything and eventually gravitated toward production out of admiration for my HoP - Callum - whose mentorship continues to influence who I am today.
Martha Wright - Sky Creative: I’m quite an organised person and was usually the one in charge of making plans, so I had a feeling production would be a good fit. I did a bit of work experience at TV show This Morning and was a runner at BBC Studios, and learned a bit about live production, before moving into a creative agency, which was definitely the right move - I’ve been at the same agency for six years now!
The true attraction comes from meeting like-minded individuals and all the weird, random and wonderful connections I have formed working in the industry.
Izy Brand - Fold7: I hadn’t considered a career in advertising until a front-of-house position at an agency cropped up. I was able to observe various departments before fully diving in and it became apparent that my place was in production. I found great satisfaction in the practical and creative support I was able to provide. However, the true attraction comes from meeting like-minded individuals and all the weird, random and wonderful connections I've formed working in the industry.
Maddie Ramsay - VMLY&R: The main attractions for me were the people, and the opportunities to create work that I feel proud of (all while in a fun environment). I interned at Y&R (starting out in account management) before moving into an office assistant/reception role, where I soon realised I wanted to get more involved in the actual making. I’d see the producers leaving to go to edits, post and sound sessions and think “I want to do that!”… so when a role became available in the production team, I jumped at the chance, and have loved it ever since.
Lwimbo Malanda - Wieden + Kennedy: I started working in account management in advertising before moving into production. I was working as a barista in an agency, the more people I met the more intrigued I was about the industry, so I'd say the amount of intelligent, creative people I met was one of the main reasons I was so attracted to it. When it came to production, the more I worked with producers on various campaigns the more I began to realise I wanted to be closer to the making of the work.
Above: Dillon Palmer, Martha Wright, Izy Brand, Maddie Ramsay, Lwimbo Malanda
Was there a particular piece of work from the last 12 months that made you say, 'I wish I'd made that!'?
Lilli Burridge Payne - AMV BBDO: An advert that really springs to mind is the hilariously relatable The Generation Gap for Australian Lamb. I love the tongue-in-cheek humour, and the creation of different worlds for each generation really captures the growing gap between age groups. I would love to experience working on a CGI integrated campaign like this – especially comedy ad! Big compliments coming from a vegetarian.
Covid, credit crunches, political problems, introduction of AI, the speed in which technology and media changes; it’s ever evolving and we’re having to adapt along the way.
Trent Webster - House 337: I think still to this day, the ‘Make Love, Not Walls’ Diesel Campaign directed by David LaChapelle has to be one of my favourite pieces of advertising. It came In a time where the world really needed it and I really think the ad speaks for itself. I love anything that Felix Brady makes but most noticeably for me was his spot for Squarespace. I’m obsessed with his visuals and the quirkiness of it all. I’d love to work with him one day.
Paolo Alberto Neri - Hogarth: It's hard to point out a particular ad that inspired me, but it would be one in the portfolio of Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, or Jonathan Glazer. It's a bit older than 12 months, but B&Q's Flip has become my favourite commercial. Maybe it's because of the beautiful acoustic version of Sound and Vision by David Bowie or the way they used practical effects to flip the whole set, but it stuck with me.
Knowing when to ask for a second opinion is a great skill to have, as well as knowing when to trust your own instincts.
Millie Greenwood - Wunderman Thompson: I remember watching the ‘making of’ for Sony Bravia’s Bouncing Balls advert and thinking – wow, what a cool job. I want to do that! I still love watching ‘making ofs’ – it’s amazing to see the craft that goes into each piece of work.
Bec Treloar - adam&eveDDB: I’m inspired by creative advertising work that has a social issue at heart, so campaigns like The Last Photo for CALM or Impossible to Ignore for Crisis reminds me of the important job we have in bringing these issues to the forefront of people’s minds.
Sian O'Halloran - Havas: Yes, the Vanish spot, Me, My Autism and I, because it’s so impactful and authentic.
Above: Lilli Burridge Payne, Trent Webster, Paolo Alberto Neri, Millie Greenwood, Bec Treloar
What’s currently the most difficult part of your job?
Mimi Inglis - Edelman: Production is always going to be a challenging field filled with uncertainty. As someone who’s still establishing themselves and learning every day, knowing when to ask for a second opinion is a great skill to have, as well as knowing when to trust your own instincts. Accepting that you’re not always going to have the answer, and not allowing this to demotivate you, can be difficult sometimes.
Matt O'Neill - M&C Saatchi: Shrinking budgets seem to be huge issue in the industry, the creative and deliverables are only growing, yet the budgets are dropping like Madonna at the Brits. Knowing how to make the money stretch in production is a skill I’m trying to master.
Whilst a big part of the role is gaining the confidence of your creatives, there’s a lot of inner work & self assurance that needs to be built up.
Phoebe Gussin - Lucky Generals: I think maybe encouraging clients to be more open to take risks and go with directors who don’t necessarily have as much work on their reel or as much experience. I think that’s something that producers can have a lot of positive influence over.
Sian O'Halloran - Havas: There is never enough time!
Simone Chinogurei - MullenLowe: As a young producer – you’ve spent the formative years of your career supporting, and working alongside senior producers, who have spent years honing their craft and figuring out effective ways of working. And this builds the foundations of your own techniques as a producer – and so it can be difficult to allow yourself the opportunity to experiment and take risks.
I think that, whilst a big part of the role is gaining the confidence of your creatives, there’s a lot of inner work and self assurance that needs to be built up, so you can become the type of producer who knows when and where to take the risks that create amazing work.
Above: Mimi Inglis, Matt O'Neill, Phoebe Gussin, Sian O'Halloren, Sian O'Halloran, Simone Chinogurei
And the most rewarding?
Grace McDonagh - Saatchi & Saatchi: When everything you’ve been working on comes together and working with such talented people that help you get there! When we wrapped John Lewis Christmas spot I was exhausted but as soon as it was out in the world I just felt pure elation along with everyone who worked on it.
Beth Mechem - Uncommon: Getting to commission emerging talent or bringing in new voices to the industry.
I will never not love the feeling of sitting in a cinema, lying on my sofa or walking down the street and seeing my own work pop up on a screen in front of me.
Kristen Clare - McCann: I will never not love the feeling of sitting in a cinema, lying on my sofa or walking down the street and seeing my own work pop up on a screen in front of me. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that the idea I helped turn into something for people to see – and hopefully sell a ‘world’ to – is out there for people to enjoy.
Valentina Schwendinger - BBH: The most rewarding aspect is handling the absurd and fun requests for production. Transitioning from film and TV, I've been surprised at how quickly I've become involved in the most unconventional producing challenges. It's both challenging and incredibly enjoyable.
This role opens up avenues for creativity in ways I never imagined, and there's this element of unpredictability – you never know what offbeat idea you'll be turning into reality next. Working on the Tesco Christmas TVC 2023 was a blast, especially the lively discussions about quirky details like how to create a half-human-half-gingerbread person or how to make snow and pine textures on skin look real.
Above: Grace McDonagh, Beth Mechem, Kristen Clare, Valentina Schwendinger
What do you think the main challenges will be in your role – or for the industry in general - over the next few years?
Tuesday Birmingham - Girl&Bear (In-House at VCCP): Cost of living crisis has naturally made encouraging people to buy stuff a sensitive subject. I think it’s really key over the next few years that brands maintain a consistent sense of identity in their comms to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships with consumers. In addition, now more than ever, brands need to identify good causes that strategically make sense in their world and use this as the red thread in all their communications.
Amy Williams - Mother: It’s a funny old world at the moment, overwhelming at times too. Covid, credit crunches, political problems, introduction of AI, the speed in which technology and media changes; it’s ever evolving and we’re having to adapt along the way.
I think the biggest challenge will be to maintain the magic of storytelling within an ad whilst still producing positive engagement.
Hananha Willers - Grey: There’s an ongoing challenge with giving new and diverse talent the opportunities to break into the industry. This isn’t new. But if we can’t look past the starry big A-list directors, then our creative output will be flawed and we’ll be doing a disservice to the impact we can have in the world outside our industry.
Lydia Knights - Brothers And Sisters: To observe the changing world of social media. With the rise of TikTok and mindless scrolling, catching audience attention is becoming more and more difficult. I think the biggest challenge will be to maintain the magic of storytelling within an ad whilst still producing positive engagement.
Beth Mechem - Uncommon: The diversification of media and what is needed in each channel, what works successfully in social is totally different to traditional TVC campaigns etc.
Amelia Rose - Pablo: It’s getting harder for young talent to access this job. Moving to London comes at a cost and it’s getting trickier for young people to afford to do it and then maintain it on the wages offered. I’ve been really lucky to work somewhere which wants to nurture its young people and train them up. Some are putting their money where their mouth is but it’s not happening at a lot of places.
Above: Tuesday Birmingham, Amy Williams, Hananha Willers, Lydia Knights
The full list of attendees at the event were;
Young Producer’s / AP's: Dillon Palmer - The&Partnership; Martha Wright - Sky Creative; Izy Brand - Fold7; Maddie Ramsay - VMLY&R; Lwimbo Malanda - Wieden + Kennedy; Lilli Burridge Payne - AMV BBDO; Trent Webster - House 337; Paolo Alberto Neri - Hogarth; Millie Greenwood - Wunderman Thompson; Bec Treloar - adam&eveDDB; Sian O'Halloran - Havas; Mimi Inglis - Edelman; Matt O'Neill - M&C Saatchi; Phoebe Gussin - Lucky Generals; Sian O'Halloren - Havas; Simone Chinogurei - MullenLowe; Grace McDonagh - Saatchi & Saatchi; Beth Mechem - Uncommon; Dillon Palmer - The&Partnership; Kristen Clare - McCann; Valentina Schwendinger - BBH; Tuesday Birmingham - Girl&Bear; Amy Williams - Mother; Hananha Willers - Grey; Lydia Knights - Brothers And Sisters; Beth Mechem - Uncommon; Amelia Rose - Pablo.