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Production Line: How Millie Graham-Cambell Can Turn Her Hand to Any Request


Move Studio (UNLIMITED’s in-house production studio)’s head of production on making the creative come to life and why its vital to to know the overall process

Production Line: How Millie Graham-Cambell Can Turn Her Hand to Any Request

Millie is head of production at Move Studio. Her key focus is to deliver all aspects of production in-house, allowing the agency to be agile and create eye-catching, award-winning and cost-effective content.

Millie has years of experience producing everything from TVCs and global toolkits, to social campaigns and animations. Whether dealing with a one-man band or a team to produce a larger shoot, Millie’s team have the right experience to make it happen.

LBB> What lasting impact has the experience of the pandemic had on how you and your agency think about and approach production?

Millie> At Move Studio, our ethos is always about finding the perfect solution for each project and challenge, whatever is thrown at us. The pandemic was admittedly one of our bigger challenges, but our main role is to make the creative come to life – so we continued doing just that. Having the mindset of adaptability and problem solving, we were able to flex to our new reality. Move Studio is UNLIMITED’s in-house production studio.

We have permanently adjusted our approach to projects and built remote working into our plans in a way that benefits our projects. We’re no longer tied to the office, our desks and office-based servers, nor do we need the entire team to be together. Tech advances have been turbocharged and it has transformed remote working.

Each production requires a unique solution and other than briefings and some key meetings, everyone undertakes their tasks on their own. Dare I say it, for some projects it can be preferable for the team to get their tasks done from home. Most people have now created a comfortable work environment, often with fewer distractions and better Wi-Fi than offices. Other than key face-to-face meetings, we're very happy for our team to choose where they would prefer to work.

Our in-house studio has doubled in size since the pandemic so we must be doing something right!


LBB> Aside from Covid-19, what have been the most disruptive forces to hit agency production in the past few years?

Millie> It's now harder to see who your competition is. We are up against freelance studios, and bigger, traditional studios; clients now have in-house teams, other production companies or media companies bidding for their work, so clients need maximum ROI.

Luckily, at Move Studio, we’ve never been a ‘one hero asset and that’s the end of it’ agency. Approaching projects with the full deliverables list in mind is in our DNA, so the need to provide multiple formats and cutdowns doesn't cause any disruption. We've always made sure our deliverables are purpose-built to work across all platforms.

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

Millie> For me, a good producer needs to have a top line understanding of how to produce for all mediums. It’s vital to know the overall process, timelines and potential pitfalls so they can give good support and guidance. 

We work on so many different projects for our clients so need to be able to turn our hand to any request at speed. Obviously having a producer who can pick up anything gives us more flexibility but when it comes to more specialist projects – like having to build a crew for a TVC shoot or produce an integrated 3D project or run an event, it's likely you’ll need a specialist.

LBB> What’s your own pathway to production? When you started out, what sort of work were you producing and what lessons have stayed with you in that time?

Millie> I originally worked for a producer as a production assistant on TV commercials but then quickly moved agency side. It was many years ago and my work was three-week long stills shoots for British Airways, or big stills and retouching projects for Diageo.

The lesson is that every day and every project is different. You can’t ever sit back and assume you know what is coming in next. We have amazing creatives and some adventurous clients who keep us on our toes. As well as plenty of social content and some new TVCs, we've created an iTunes topping single and music video for Westminster City Council, run a takeover of the Piccadilly Lights for Diet Coke and created a couple of animated 3D crabs for Freesat. 


LBB> There are so many models for the way production is organised in the advertising industry - what set-ups have you found to be the most successful and why?

Millie> At TMW Unlimited, we have built a film and animation studio, Move Studio, and create the majority of our content in-house, which allows for true collaboration throughout a project. We integrate our teams to ensure we can help guide the creative from the beginning, and to enable a true partnership between production and creative teams, as well as insights from strategy and our Human Understanding Lab.

Creative teams can easily get advice on techniques and understand what is achievable from a shoot/post-production perspective (and importantly get support on what we can do in the available time and budget!).

LBB> When working with a new partner or collaborator, how do you go about establishing trust?

Millie> It’s all about communication and honesty.

Working with new people comes with different challenges now. As ever, it’s about continuing to navigate new ways of working. It’s got to be about constant communication. It’s so important not to leave people on their own - so keep in contact and be very clear about how the project will run, when reviews are happening and what the expectations are.


LBB> How important is it to you there is diversity across all partners on a production? Do you have any measures to promote diversity when it comes to production? 

Millie> As an agency, we are open, accepting and inclusive, and we support each other on our journey to reach our true potential. We are actively working to ensure that we as an agency more fully reflect the society around us. This filters into production – we challenge the briefs we receive and always work with our clients to join us on our journey. This goes beyond just who we work with in live action (both sides of the camera), but also through to our illustration and animation projects. 

LBB> Speaking of casting, what is your approach to this side of a production? How do you work with directors to ensure a fair and fruitful process? 

Millie> When working with 3rd party production companies, we have a triple bid process, making sure that under-represented directors are included. And we ensure our casting briefs describe the feel of the person, rather than specifically calling out their sex, age, look. Leave it open & see what comes back.


LBB> Sustainable production is also, understandably, a big talking point and will continue to be so moving forward. How are you navigating this as an agency?

Millie> As an agency, we have an ESG team who are actively working on ensuring we are measuring and reducing our emissions. They are also introducing new initiatives to engage the agency and ensure everyone is involved in making a difference.

We are working with AdGreen on our productions and constantly looking to reduce our impact and work smarter. We have tasked one of our producers to own this area and constantly challenge how we are working. So far, any decisions we have made following our AdGreen training has been supported by creative teams and clients alike.


LBB> Has the pandemic accelerated this conversation at all, in your opinion?

Millie> The pandemic has certainly opened some of our clients up to the idea of using animation. In the past, there were definitely briefs that stipulated live action but when that was impossible, we were able to prove how effective animation could be.

The pandemic certainly made us do things we never contemplated. Whilst we have always used local crews when filming abroad to minimise travel, we would always have insisted a client was on a shoot. When this became impossible and we had to use remote links, our clients and our team were so impressed how easy it was. We’re still all for having clients on set, but we certainly always run the PPMs remotely now. And it’s good to know other people can ‘attend’ without actually needing to be at the location.

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UNLIMITED, Thu, 11 Aug 2022 07:07:00 GMT