Since setting up shop four years ago, integrated production facility, Gramercy Park Studios, has built quite a reputation as the place to be for ambitious young creatives. So, what has it got so right? Three of its rising stars reveal their experiences with its unique, fine-tuned approach to tapping into their creative potential…
What do young creatives need in order to grow? It’s a question that Gramercy Park Studios seems to have no problem answering. With a whole host of talented young guns thriving within its ranks, the award-winning post production facility would appear to have perfected its approach to nurturing new talent.
Most emerging creatives are looking for the right environment to grow: a balance of challenge and encouragement, and to have the necessary support network whilst being pushed to reach their full potential.
This was the hook for Sam Cross. Four years ago, he was a junior on the lookout for a new challenge to progress his career. Though Gramercy Park was still in its fledgling stages back then, he saw an unmissable opportunity and seized it.
Sam Cross - Sound Design For Dyson
“It really caught my attention,” Sam comments. “The prospect of joining a new company and the chance to build a department from the ground up is quite rare. There was an element of risk on my part, as when I took the position there were still many unknowns, but I felt I had a good understanding of what we were trying to achieve and I was really on board with it.”
It’s a move that has undoubtedly paid off. Sam went on to become an instrumental driving force in developing the sound department into the award-winning entity that it is today, and was recently promoted to Sound Designer.
“Sam’s experience is a great example of what we are trying to build at Gramercy Park,” says Richard Ireland, Managing Director of Gramercy Park. “Nurturing and trusting in the next generation of creatives isn’t just important for us from a creative and business perspective, it’s important for their own progress and the reputation of the wider industry.”
“I really enjoy the variation within the new role,” he comments. “In short form, I’m solely responsible for every aspect of the sound, whereas long form would have different teams working on different aspects such as ADR, foley, design and mixing. The diversity of the jobs you are exposed to keeps it interesting and exercises all areas of your audio skillset regularly, which I really like.”
Keeping it fresh and facilitating a varied learning experience isn’t just good for the new talent, it ultimately helps the company develop a more motivated and agile team, rather than becoming a stable of one-trick ponies.
The opportunity to push creative boundaries is something that also appealed to the newest member of the GPS team, Fran Hill. Since joining as Junior Flame Artist last September, she’s been thriving in her new environment – working on everything from beauty work, 3D elements, projects heavy on roto and clean-up, colour changes, and even attending shoots to help with VFX supervision.
Fran Hill - VFX for Channel 4 and M&S
“There’s a lot of trust,” says Fran. “I’m getting more exciting and challenging projects, and being given more responsibility – which is definitely something I was craving. The tasks have always been different and the skills required for each project differ greatly. As a result, I’m learning a lot more about the system as a whole now.”
Providing team members like Fran with a consistent structure is important but, equally so, is allowing some wiggle room to exercise their own initiative. Giving them the space to prove what they’re capable of – to themselves as much as to the company - can go a long way.
Sam comments: “You’ve got to make the most of every opportunity that arises within this industry, as they are few and far between.”
As one of the few post production houses in London to offer both audio and visual post, GPS is uniquely placed to expose its talents to all aspects of the process, encouraging them to work on independent projects to build on their experience – something that’s particularly helpful, Sam notes: “Thanks to the multitude of in-house projects, there’s never a lack of productions to work on during downtime and hone your skills in the studio. This is really important for juniors as putting yourself in new scenarios really is the key to development.”
Given the breakneck speed at which industry software advances and updates, having access to the latest tech is crucial. With its recent expansion, including a new state-of-the-art sound suite, GPS can offer its juniors that all-important hands-on experience.
The breadth of available resources hasn’t gone unnoticed by Fran: “Since joining GPS, I have more access to the full Flame system rather than the cut-down versions, Flare and Flame Assist.”
Done right, nurturing talent is an invaluable long-term investment in the future of the company. Perhaps, most important of all, is the people. Simply fostering an open and sharing environment can be the most effective method.
“We’re still a new company and our young talents are an important part of shaping the future of the business and the work we do,” adds Ireland. “As the company grows and expands, these guys are going to bring fresh, diverse ideas which in turn keeps us looking forward.”
James McLean, who started out as Junior Editor in 2014, cites the company’s people-centric approach as a major influence in his career: “I’ve learnt my trade at GPS and been trained by one of the best editors out there. Everyone’s like family. It helped get me to where I am today, and I will always be grateful to the whole team for that.”
James McLean - Post Production Editing for GHD
It’s been a big year for James. In January, he achieved his long-time ambition to move to the Big Apple in his new role as Editor at GPS’ New York office. For him, working closely and consistently with the same team who’s familiar with his progress has been instrumental.
“It has always been a dream of mine,” he admits. “It’s crazy to think that from joining the company, I’ve been around the world twice, editing on location with Vee [Pinot, Head of Editing], and now I’ve made the move to NYC. We’ve worked so well together for years now, and she’s always pushing me to the next level. It’s been an incredible three years and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Despite his big move, some things remain the same. James says he maintains regular contact with the London team: “They’re not only my colleagues but close friends. That’s what makes GPS so special - the people that work there.”