Production management: More than just an admin role

Production management: More than just an admin role

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Production managers are in short supply, which made RTS Scotland’s November event on this critical TV role so timely. 

Raise the Roof Productions head of production Sandy Robertson defined the role: ‘The production management team ensures that a production gets made safely, on budget and on time.… Usually it’s office-based, as opposed to on location. 

‘Every industry has admin roles but, within television and the creative sector, it’s just so much more fun. It’s enriching… so, although you are doing what is often kind of seen as quite a dull, uninspiring, logistical, admin role, it’s fun.’ 

‘We’re making telly,’ added Red Sky production executive Nan Gourlay, who has more than 20 years’ experience in production management. 

Contracts for this role tend to be longer than most in the freelance sector. ‘They’re in right at the beginning, setting up, and they’re there at the end, closing down,’ explained Gourlay. 

‘But we just haven’t got enough people because they are all kind of stacked up, [looking after] lots of long-­running things, which is great…. We just need to catch up with new people.’ 

The Covid-19 pandemic, though, has promoted homeworking, which has helped to ease shortages. ‘We’ve been able to widen our talent pool,’ said Robertson.  

One of the Scottish indie’s current production managers works from London. Robertson explained: ‘We’ve been able to get somebody who actually, to be honest, wouldn’t have been on our radar [before].’ 

Paul Prendergast, a junior production manager on BBC One political series Question Time, worked in the events industry for more than a decade before switching to TV. 

He said: ‘The industry is craving for more people – and from all walks of life. I had quite a big fear – “Why would they want me?” – but the industry has welcomed me with open arms. 

‘You don’t need to go to university or study media to get into the industry.… I think people with life skills and previous careers in different areas [can] succeed in the TV industry.’ 

Raise the Roof talent manager Jeannot Hutcheson chaired the RTS Scotland event. Report by Matthew Bell.

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