LBB> What lasting impact has the experience of the pandemic had on how you and your agency think about and approach production?
Tash> The pandemic has really forced us to proceed with caution with every job we work on. The world of production has become increasingly unstable since the pandemic - things were changing at a rapid pace, and are continuing to change. It means we’ve had to make sure we consider every possibility, plan for them, and be ready to act at a moment’s notice.
The upside of all uncertainty is that it’s just heightened the importance of maintaining clear and open lines of communication with our partners, with our clients and with our teams internally, which goes a long way to forging even stronger relationships.
LBB> Aside from Covid-19, what have been the most disruptive forces to hit agency production in the past few years?
Tash> Budgets are getting tighter, timelines are getting shorter and deliverables lists are more extensive than ever. As producers, we’re continuously adapting, finding new ways of doing things and disrupting our own processes whilst ensuring we’re maintaining the integrity of the idea and the level of craft that the ideas deserve.
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?
Tash> I agree to a point. The reality is that there’s so many different types of productions, each bringing with it its own skill set, knowledge and connections.
Modern producers should always have an interest in all of the different areas of production, but expecting people to be able to execute at a high-level across each of those different disciplines isn’t realistic.
As the old adage goes, jacks of all trades are masters of none, and we want our production team to be filled with masters who have an inherent curiosity beyond their area of expertise.
That’s especially true at CHEP where we’re often producing work that sits in the ‘non-traditional’ space. My team is constantly learning new skills, investigating new ways of working and meeting new production partners to help make the seemingly impossible, possible.
The producers that will win and thrive in this new economy are absolutely those that will be willing to take risks and step out of their comfort zone, and they’re definitely the types of people we look to bring into our business.
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?
Tash> My father was an independent film and musical theater producer, my mum a professional ballerina – so production has always been in my blood, in my home, in my life! I remember one of the first jobs I produced had a budget of around $700k and my dad said – “How much?? For 30 secs??? I could make an entire film for that!!!”
I nudged my way into production about 20 years ago at M&C Saatchi in Sydney. I was working on reception and the then Head of TV called through to the desk to tell me the TV PA was leaving and to take her off the phone list, my response being ”only if you interview me for the role!” One week later I was working in his team and the rest is history.
The biggest lesson across that time is really to ensure you have clear and open communication throughout the production process. Being able to pick up the phone and have a quick conversation, with the right people and decision makers, can solve so much, so quickly.
LBB> If you compare your role to the role of the heads of TV/heads of production 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?)
Tash> The biggest - and most pleasing - change has been the rise of women in these senior production roles. When I first started it was predominantly men as Heads of TV.
More inclusivity and diversity within production has meant a more attractive working environment, filled with people who bring new and unique points of view and experience to the role.
There has also been a rise of working mothers in production. It’s a tricky world to navigate with a family in the mix but as more women have risen to the top, more tools have been put in place to help them stay. Production has changed immensely over that period.
LBB> When working with a new partner or collaborator, how do you go about establishing trust?
Tash> Communication, transparency, and good old fashioned manners! Be kind to one another – see everyone as an extension of the same team, be respectful of the process and align early on what the ideal outcome would be.
I pride myself on good relationships, production can come with so many unforeseen challenges, it’s imperative to stick together and be unified – so communicate, communicate, communicate and when the chips are down find a way to laugh. A good belly laugh can cure anything – it’s just an ad after all!
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?
Tash> Sustainability in production is something that’s definitely starting to become more common and it’s been refreshing to see a number of clients leading the conversation.
As an industry, we’re still in the early stages of working out the best way to navigate it but there’s a range of simple, and some not so simple things that we’re all doing. There’s things like reducing your own personal waste, like bringing your own water bottles to set, minimising printouts, removing single use cutlery and plates on set etc.
Then there’s the bigger picture items like how we look at travel, considerations around using overseas vs local partners, offsetting carbon emissions across the entire production process. There’s a range of options on the table to shift towards becoming more sustainable and we’ll continue to test and learn and get better as we go.
LBB> What conversations are you having with clients about issues such as diversity and sustainability? Is it something that clients are invested in or more that agencies need to take the lead on?
Tash> I’ve noticed that clients are very invested in diversity for their campaigns; it’s truly wonderful to see. We’ve reached the point where I feel it’s definitely become noticeable out in the real world too. There’s a richer, more inclusive range of people on our billboards, buses, TV’s and on our screens. It’s really become the norm now, as it should.
Sustainability is an ongoing conversation and there’s a lot of work being done by agencies and clients alike to ensure we’re all putting in place the right processes and practices to get better at our environmental impact every day.