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Producing Tomorrow’s Producers: Letting Your Imagination Run Rife with Amy Coomber



neverland's head of production on keeping up to date with the youngest talent, diverse directors, and exciting production companies

Producing Tomorrow’s Producers: Letting Your Imagination Run Rife with Amy Coomber

Awarded ‘Agency Producer of the year 2021’ by Campaign, Amy is one of British Advertising’s leading producers. Previously at BBH, adam&eveDDB and Creative Blood, Amy now leads neverland’s production department, creating award winning work across all media types.

LBB> What advice would you give to any aspiring producers or content creators hoping to make the jump into production?

Amy> If you’re passionate about production, take the leap. But before doing so, do your research, join a team that is going to invest in you and your development. Challenges and opportunities are endless when you’re in the right team. Always trust your instinct and enjoy an incredible whirlwind of a career.

LBB> What skills or emerging areas would you advise aspiring producers to learn about and educate themselves about?

Amy> Always make sure you are understanding the kind of work that is out there. Keeping up to date with the youngest talent, diverse directors, and exciting production companies. A producer’s role is extremely important in paving the way for the future of our industry. 

LBB> What was the biggest lesson you learned when you were starting out in production - and why has that stayed with you?

Amy> I started my production life at BBH, where I was blessed with five brilliant years of training and opportunities. It was at BBH that I learned the importance of meticulous attention to detail. As I’ve moved through my career, this approach has allowed me to take risks creatively, and pivot when & wherever needed.

LBB> When it comes to broadening access to production and improving diversity and inclusion what are your team doing to address this?

Amy> I’ve not entered this industry as a traditionally trained TV producer, but now lead a team where film is one of our main areas of production. So, to be able to succeed in a head of production role just shows, whatever your experience and position, a chance should always be given to you no matter your age, gender, race, sexuality, or background.

Traditionally there was a way of moving through the ranks and that was X number of years as a PA before you could progress. It’s different now. If you shine as a junior and you keep shining, the sky's the limit no matter your experience. This is living proof that you can break down the barriers. We earned our stripes going through it the old school way. Why continue doing it this way when we can give the platform to diverse talent who are thirsty to thrive in this industry? 

neverland is committed to closing the gap between underrepresented groups and the industry so we have partnered with the London Screen Academy on all projects moving forward. Part of our process is to get two students involved on every film project from pre-production all the way through to the shoot. This way students get valuable on shoot experience, whilst also having context and understanding of all the elements that come together make the shoot happen.

LBB> And why is it an important issue for the production community to address?

Amy> We are defining the fate of our future as an industry, and it should be representative of our growing society. This means that it's diverse, inclusive and representative.  

LBB> There are young people getting into production who maybe don’t see the line between professional production and the creator economy, and that may well also be the shape of things to come. What are your thoughts about that? Is there a tension between more formalised production and the ‘creator economy’ or do the two feed into each other?

Amy> I feel that right now there is a little tension between the two, but believe that if handled carefully we can create a world where there is space for both. We need to protect our industry and our craft, and at the same time we need to be adaptable and nimble for our clients.

We have a responsibility to educate new producers and clients that high volume content can be created quickly and cost effectively and it can be good. But that should never replace the need for more formalised production that needs to be great. We also have a responsibility to protect artists, directors, photographers, to ensure they are paid fairly for their work. Allowing them to continue to be masters of their craft and earn a good living from doing so.

LBB> If you compare your role to the role of the heads of TV/heads of production/exec producers when you first joined the industry, what do you think are the most striking or interesting changes (and what surprising things have stayed the same?)

Amy> 2023 is much more exciting. Opportunities are endless. Our imagination has run rife, and anything is possible. We have now moved into a world where we have to constantly educate ourselves on what’s out there, and we need to adapt to it otherwise we get left behind. 

Nowadays there are more challenges which means it’s harder but way more rewarding when we get it right. What’s not changed is the industry’s dedication and commitment to creativity. No matter what challenges are thrown at us, as an industry we pull together, lean on each other’s experience, and continue to create award winning work for our clients. There’s no doubt we are all coming out the other end stronger than ever!

LBB> When it comes to educating producers how does your agency like to approach this? (I know we’re always hearing about how much easier it is to educate or train oneself on tech etc, but what areas do you think producers can benefit from more directed or structured training?)

Amy> At neverland we have taken matters into our own hands by curating a 16-week training course for our juniors, producing a project from inception to reconciliation. 

We are constantly empowering juniors to learn and gain confidence in a safe space by giving them the trust they deserve and throwing them into something they have never done before. This doesn’t mean scaring them, it’s quite the contrary. What it is, is giving them the platform they deserve and allowing their brilliance to shine through. These are the people that will take the baton from us one day so why not give them the opportunities that we were once given and take enjoyment from seeing what they can achieve.

One thing I have learned is never doubt the power of cross learning. I learn as much from my team as they do from me. Show an open ear to all your producers no matter what their experience.

LBB> It seems that there’s an emphasis on speed and volume when it comes to content - but where is the space for up and coming producers to learn about (and learn to appreciate) craft?

Amy> At neverland craft is at the heart of everything we do. A huge amount of time is spent educating ourselves and our clients on what the best looks like, and what it takes to create it. Speed and volume shouldn’t change this. It’s all in the preparation. We’re agile learners, and our meticulous attention to detail allows us to move fast, and still create beautifully crafted work.

LBB> On the other side of the equation, what’s the key to retaining expertise and helping people who have been working in production for decades to develop new skills?

Amy> Creating a safe environment where everyone is respected and has space and time to learn from each other is the key to success. Collaboration within the team and cross learning is so important. The newcomers can always educate the more experienced, so we really need to have this collaborative culture where everyone is valued for what they bring to the table. This way everyone feels welcome and ready to thrive. 

LBB> Clearly there is so much change, but what are the personality traits and skills that will always be in demand from producers?

Amy> Agility. A great sense of humour. Nice. Approachable. Exciting to work with. Charismatic. Unique. Adaptable. Fun. 

It is truly a gift of a job. So, enjoy it. It’s yours.

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neverland creative, Wed, 22 Feb 2023 12:00:00 GMT