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Day in the Life of... Amanda Jones

Trends and Insight 480 Add to collection

Mad Ruffian's Amanda Jones reveals her unorthodox path into the industry and the fluidity of her role as Executive Producer

Day in the Life of... Amanda Jones
Day in the Life of… is a series from the Creative Circle, celebrating and championing the diversity of talent across Britain’s creative community. Encompassing creatives from all areas of the advertising and creative spectrum, each edition will focus on an individual and their role within our exciting community.   

Mad Ruffian's Amanda Jones is next up, revealing the fluidity of her role as Executive Producer, her unconventional route into the industry, and the joys of working with her best friends...


My role…

At Mad Ruffian we work as a collective, which is a fancy way of saying that everyone does the things they are best at - even if it crosses the typical “roles” that make up a production company. Technically, Chris (Watson-Wood) is Creative Director of Mad Ruffian and Ruffian Post and I am the Executive Producer of both but it’s hardly ever that cut-and-dry, and until the other Ruffians joined, that was how it was in order to handle the workload. But, since we’ve grown, it’s been great to not have to be limited to using our talents in only one department. For instance, Chris is a really visual director, but I am a classically trained actor, so usually even though I am producing the job and dealing with clients on set, I’m also directing the actors. So, it means, if it’s a strong performance piece, the director might be Amanda Jones for Mad Ruffian and if it’s a strong visual or VFX piece, it might be Christopher Watson-Wood for Mad Ruffian (or someone completely different or sometimes no one specifically at all and it’s just Mad Ruffian!) We find that this division of strengths also lends itself to running a business. For example, Christopher is obsessed with learning new things and keeping us on the edge of the newest technologies and he’s also great with meeting new people, so when I might be emailing like a madwoman and busy with day-to-day operations, Chris is out meeting people and heading up new business.


How I got here…

From very far away!  If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would own a production/post production company in freezing London that I started from my living room with British husband, I would have probably laughed in your face.

I grew up in Colorado (the square one in the middle where they all smoke pot) and knew from a very young age that I was going to be a famous movie star. So, I moved to LA at 17 and went to a prestigious acting school there and worked nights so I could audition during the days. I produced a play with my best friend at 20 years old that got us a lot of recognition because of how young we were and because we starred in it (and because it was good) and from it, she was offered a role in a film that was shooting in Scotland. I didn’t get offered a movie role, so instead got a job working in commercial casting for some of LA’s most notorious casting directors. In 2009, I came to Europe for the first time to visit my friend on set in Scotland, and met the hunky VFX supervisor (Chris), and for three years after that, every penny I made in casting went to coming to England as often as possible.

In 2012, we were married and I did some running and PA’ing, and started waiting tables again for no tips (and no, waiters in the UK do not make enough hourly to make up for not getting tipped!) As soon as I could, I opened my own commercial casting company, Plaster Cast. During this time, Chris was repped by a couple of production companies as a director and doing some freelance VFX work, but between us, it just wasn’t cutting it. So, in 2014, we decided it was time to put our talents together and take a huge leap of faith. With no capital and no investment, we started Mad Ruffian from our studio apartment in Vauxhall above the bus station, and the rest is history.


My typical day…

Well, I usually spend the night thinking about all the things I didn’t get done the day before and email myself something incoherent at 3am and then all of us spend the morning trying to figure out what it was to determine what we have to do during the day!

Toby (Williams-Ellis) who came to Ruffian Post to be a CG artist and now is basically vice-president of all things Ruffian, will help determine who is in for the day and what we all need to do on whatever project we’re on (there are typically 3-4 going at any time.) We have a core group of people who work every day and then, depending on the project, we will scale up in size and space to accommodate its needs and whims.

We do a lot different types of work - from “vanity” projects that we invest in for ourselves like an animated ball of pubic hair, to content creation and safeguarding/versioning/reproduction for brands over an entire year.  Because we do post and casting as well as production, we are a one-stop-shop so it takes a lot of different types of cogs to keep the machine going.

When we’re not shooting, I usually deal with the details of what’s needed for the job and Chris will oversee the creative. I QC and he makes sure the work is artistically up to scratch. We’re getting better at delegating and are expanding every day to keep up with new business requests and, all the while, pinching ourselves because it feels like a happy dream!


Hardest part of my job…

The hardest part of my job is occasionally having to turn down work. Because we are still quite small, it’s often a balancing act between choosing jobs that are going to help us grow in reputation and skill and those jobs that pay for us to do what we want but might not be as groundbreaking creatively.  We have a duty to maintain quality and there are a million other amazing production companies out there so, in order to not get lost in the crowd, we can’t get bogged down in the sea of busy work. We have to push ourselves to the edge all of the time and, to be perfectly honest, that can get really hard and tiring both emotionally and physically.  


What I enjoy the most about my work…

Mine is two parts (as if I could have a short answer!)

My first favourite part of a job is when it’s over. For reals! I mean, being able to see something that was just a baby thought grow from inception to realisation is very cool for me. And to have a hand in every part of the job - the idea, to casting, to bringing great people together for a shoot, then to all my amazing friends doing the edit and all the VFX and then, finally, getting to deliver it to a happy client - is super cool. Acting is something that is very hard to do by yourself… you can’t go out and stand on the street in front of a casting office and recite monologues without being taken away by security (believe me, I’ve tried!) But with what I do now, at the end of the day (and with a ton of hard work), we’ve got something to show for it when it’s done, and that’s my favourite part. (And then we keep it and change it over and over again for the clients so they can keep it alive forever!)

My ultimate favourite part is Mad Ruffian. Every single day, I get to work with my best friends and my husband. We get paid to have fun and live our dreams and I know that I am one of the luckiest people in the world to get to do that.

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Creative Circle, Tue, 28 Mar 2017 10:37:56 GMT