Four Lessons in Four Months
From a traveller’s site in Limerick to the adorned halls of Kensington palace; from the shop floor of a military tank factory to the executive floor of a global investment bank; the last four months as a producer at Paradigm have been varied, to say the least. I’m still working on perfecting my Northern accent, but there’s a couple of things I’ve learnt already:
1) You don’t need to know everything.
Or be able to do everything – that’s why we work as teams of specialists. Having previously worked as a one-man-band jack-of-all-trades, this has been the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make. The camera operator doesn’t need to have a detailed understanding of the timescales or budget, just as the producer doesn’t need to know what ISO or f-stop the camera is set to. Obviously it helps to have an understanding of what everyone is doing, but you don’t have to do everything by yourself.
2) Do business with friends.
I get to work with some of my best friends, and contrary to conventional wisdom, we haven’t been at each others’ throats …yet. Some of the people I work with, I’m now proud to call friends – there’s a really relaxed, friendly atmosphere at Paradigm that we’re pretty proud of.
In fact it’s really helpful as the more you work together, the slicker and more intuitive your working habits become. My go-to camera op can instantly understand from my vague jargon exactly what setup I’m looking for, just as I can tell from his stance alone whether he wants to retake the shot. That kind of psychic superpower can only come about through getting on like a house on fire with the people you work with.
3) Take pride in your work.
I’ve interviewed clients on camera who get incredibly excited about topics that I have very little understanding of. And that’s great, because their passion shines through. Even if they’re camera-shy or not the strongest speaker, their excitement lends credibility to their words, and they come across well as a result. Likewise, I do my best work when I can get excited about it – and with the kinds of interesting projects I work on, this isn’t hard. It’s important to remember that there’s usually changes involved in a project, it’s a collaborative process, and everyone’s input makes the project better. I put my all into what I produce, and by working as a team, we can make even better content.
4) Always take a jacket when travelling up north.
Don’t let the sun deceive you. It’s literally always cold.