Cara Sheppard recently joined Picture Shop, the picture division of post production business Streamland Media, as its president, tasked with overseeing and integrating the global business' wide-reaching offices and capabilities.
Cara’s more than 18 years of industry experience run the gamut from studio operations to facility management in production and post production. Most recently, she served as managing director for London’s Twickenham Film Studios. Prior to that, she led Warner Bros. De Lane Lea as managing director for nearly five years. Cara also spent six years in senior management at Comcast-owned British broadcaster Sky. She got her start in the industry as a freelancer on-set in production and then as a post production supervisor.
LBB's Addison Capper picked her brains on her plans for Picture Shop and the wider post production industry.
LBB> Congrats on joining Picture Shop! What tempted you about the opportunity?
Cara> It’s not every day you’re approached to be in the senior leadership team of the largest post-production company in the world. It’s incredibly exciting to be involved in shaping, growing, and developing the leading global business in its field.
LBB> It's a really global business with offices across Europe and North America. How will you be managing this aspect of your new role?
Cara> I’ve worked for US based companies for most of my career, so I’m used to working across multiple time zones and working long hours. There will be a fair amount of travel across the USA, Canada, and the UK while we work at integrating the multiple global acquisitions and growing the business.
LBB> What are your main aims and ambitions with the new role?
Cara> I’m looking to build a truly globally connected network of world class post production finishing facilities across continents. Not only offering our clients an outstanding level of service on a global level but also offering some of the best creative talent and most innovative pipelines and workflows supporting cutting edge technology.
LBB> What sort of kid were you? Were you particularly interested in film and moving imagery?
Cara> I LOVED movies. I grew up watching old black and white movies and thought it was all so glamorous, and Hollywood always seemed so magical and idealistic.
LBB> How did you wind up working in production and post? Was it a bit of a happy accident or something you were particularly keen to do?
Cara> I always knew it was where I belonged - I had it running through my veins. If I didn’t do what I do now, I don’t know what I would be doing. I couldn’t imagine not working in the industry. I did a lot of work experience and tried to get as much exposure as I could working on set to get my big break making tea onset as a runner – the rest is history!
LBB> What are some of the biggest shifts and trends impacting the way a company like Picture Shop approaches post production right now?
Cara> I think a few things – the advancement of this still relatively new on demand/SVOD genre of content – high-end TV or high-end episodic content, which is being driven by the streamers AppleTV+, Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, etc. This, coupled with the pandemic and the ever-increasing thirst for a huge volume of original content which is consumed anywhere, anytime on any device has put a huge strain on the industry capacity and talent pool globally. Further to that, existing facilities and studios have struggled to maintain growth in line with the pace required to keep up with more and more content being produced and consumed. So therefore, it is more important than ever to build a stable, technically, and creatively sustainable and scalable business which is agile and fit for the future to ensure you remain relevant and at the top of your game.
LBB> You're a producer by trade but as you've worked your way up the business ladder, you now work more in leadership as a president. How does your experience as a producer aid when it comes to running a business?
Cara> I think the advantage this offers me is that I have not only been running production and post production facilities, both picture and sound for a long time, both in the UK and USA, but I’ve also been on the other side of the fence as a client. This offers a unique perspective and I always look at every situation from not only an internal business growth perspective but also using the viewpoint of the client.
LBB> You also worked in-house at Sky for about five years - what kind of lessons did you learn while working directly inside such a big broadcaster?
Cara> I think it teaches a different set of skills – working for an independently financed or VC/PE backed company is wildly different in comparison to working for a globally very corporate broadcaster. I learned incredible corporate finance and advanced business development skills including investment and payback which only a business of that size and scale can teach you. It was an incredibly valuable experience to work across not only scripted but also unscripted and live content in a world driven by bleeding edge technology and pipelines.
LBB> Producers are problem solvers. What personally fuels your curiosity and drive?
Cara> Someone saying it can’t be done. Seriously. The harder the problem, the more determined it makes me to solve it. I love a challenge, transformation, commercially aggressive business growth and taking calculated business risks. While I am a self-confessed workaholic, I would be bored if I wasn’t working at such a pace. I love my job and I consider myself very lucky to be doing it, I never take that for granted.