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Meet Your Makers: Why Producing Is as Much Creative as Logistic with Alice Gilfillan


Pavilion Works' head studio and EP on going after her dream job, why no production is the same and being the best subtitler in the game

Meet Your Makers: Why Producing Is as Much Creative as Logistic with Alice Gilfillan

Alice Gilfillan is the head studio and EP at the social-first production company Pavilion Works. From wrangling hip-hop artists to now coaching a team of film producers, Alice spent her early twenties booking tours throughout Europe and Asia for up-and-coming artists before a two-week internship at production company Pavilion Works turned into a full-time job. Fast forward to now, and Alice runs the core in-house team at PW, from scoping out treatments, overseeing productions, and even writing film scripts in her spare time. Alice is an excellent example of how a diverse range of experience feeds into what it means to be a great executive producer.

LBB> What first attracted you to production - and has it been an industry you’ve always worked in or did you come to it from another area? 

Alice> I worked in music throughout my late teens and early twenties, touring Hip Hop artists in Europe and Asia. It was amazing, but I knew I didn’t want to be doing it forever. Eventually I packed it in and went after my dream job: to be the producer of the next Father Ted (just less offensive…) I studied film for a year at university before getting an internship at Pavilion Works, two weeks later they offered me a job! 

LBB> What was your first role in the production world and how did this experience influence how you think about production and how you grew your career? 

Alice> My first job as a production assistant was on a branded piece for British Vogue. Back then, it was just me, Jake and Morgan (the founders) at Pavilion Works. When you work at such a small company, it’s all hands on deck, so I mucked in with everything on that shoot. The early days at Pavilion Works were hugely formative for me and have given me an understanding of all areas of production which has been invaluable. I am still the best subtitler in the game. 

LBB> How did you learn to be a producer? 

Alice> On the job. Complete trial and error but with amazing EPs. 

LBB> Looking back to the beginning of your career, can you tell us about a production you were involved in where you really had to dig deep and that really helped you to grow as a producer? 

Alice> In the early days, our budgets were so low. You would approach high-end commercial content with a music video mindset. We were constantly digging deep, trying to get the most out of our client’s budgets, and we still are! 

LBB> A good producer should be able to produce for any medium, from film to events to digital experience. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why/why not? 

Alice> It turns out, the skills a producer needs are pretty transferable. Touring hip hop artists is not too dissimilar to wrangling grips. So yeah, I guess I agree.

LBB> What’s your favourite thing about production and why? 

Alice> No production is the same. One day we’re Googling 'butterfly handlers in London', the next we’re infecting a laptop with the WannaCry virus. 

LBB> How has production changed since you started your career? 

Alice> Pavilion Works is a social-first content studio. And it always has been. It’s been fascinating to watch the shift towards social content – BTL advertising is becoming increasingly important with our clients, and people are really recognising the benefits of shifting their budgets into this area. 

LBB> And what has stayed the same? 

Alice> Problem solving mental briefs. 

LBB> What do you think is the key to being an effective producer - and is it something that’s innate or something that can be learned? 

Alice> There are certain qualities I look for when interviewing for new producers at Pavilion Works, definitely. Common sense, self-initiative and good taste. A producer needs to have a good understanding of the creative they’re looking after. I always consider a producer to be as much a creative role as a logistical one. 

LBB> Which production project from across your career are you most proud of and why? 

Alice> We recently completed another project with eBay – from being briefed to delivering the final cuts was just over two weeks. We put together an amazing team who just smashed it out, and to such an amazing standard. 

LBB> Producers always have the best stories. What’s the hairiest / most insane situation you’ve found yourself in and how did you work your way out of it? 

Alice> I was looking after a cake shaped like Buckingham Palace for a shoot. It was in this massive white box that wouldn’t fit through my front door so I stupidly left it in my car. When I went to get it the next day, some poor sod had broken in thinking it was something valuable, only to find some stale cake. 

LBB> What are your personal ambitions or aspirations as a producer? 

Alice> More food content pls.

LBB> As a producer your brain must have a neverending "to do" list. How do you switch off? What do you do to relax? 

Alice> Quiz night on BBC1 on a Monday. Pure heaven. Victoria Coren-Mitchell making jokes I don’t understand is my happy place. 

LBB> Producers are problem solvers. What personally fuels your curiosity and drive? 

Alice> I think we’ve become the go-to problem-solving production company. A client will reach out to agencies we work with for a strange brief and they’ll think of Pavilion. We do Rube Goldberg Machines for iPhones, prank shows for Xbox and build 14 sets in two days for eBay. I think it’s this that fuels my drive, the fact that any job can come into our inbox at any time. 

LBB> What advice would you give to people who are interested in becoming a producer? 

Alice> Try to get your foot in the door at a production company, or start running on sets. There are so many Facebook groups for running jobs. Offer to shadow people for experience. 

LBB> From your experience what are the ingredients for a successful production? 

Alice> There needs to be a good synergy between client, agency and production. A shared vision on what we’re making. A friendly crew and zero egos. 

LBB> Producers are naturally hands on - they have to be. How do you balance that in the more managerial role of an EP? 

Alice> This has taken some learning. Stepping back and letting our producers do their thing is super important to their growth, and mine. I’ll always be there to guide them, but you have to let them build confidence and independence.

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Pavilion Works, Wed, 12 Apr 2023 14:24:53 GMT