Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

How To Pull Off A Showstopper When Shooting Celebrity Talent: Ireland

Production Services
Madrid, Spain
Vikings, Bond and Bob Dylan have graced the shoots of PSN Ireland, here’s their top tips on working with celebrities…

Any person working in production knows that working with celebrity talent can bring a host of challenges to a shoot. More often than not you’re dealing with restricted schedules, unique demands and sponsorship deals that need to be considered incredibly carefully.  It takes a heck of a lot of pre-planning to make sure shoots run smoothly.

PSN tap into their worldwide network to explore what you need to be prepared for and what skills and tips are unique to shoot locations around the world. This week they speak to EP at PSN Ireland, Dara McClatchie who has a handy tip on never forgetting to have snacks on set for big rugby players!

Q> When shooting with high profile talent, what are the biggest challenges?

PSN Ireland> It goes without saying, of course, that we look after all of our talent equally well, high profile or not! That said, when working with someone (or indeed more than one person) who is well known it brings its own set of requirements - the biggest challenge usually is their time.

Q> What in particular do you have to be prepared for when working with celebrity talent?

PSN Ireland> Usually the bigger the star the more straightforward it is.  They are used to the process, are clear about their requirements and are clear about the amount of time they have available for the shoot so we just have to make it happen within those parameters.  Special requests are planned for, sometimes to the delight of the local crew who benefit from on-set baristas and fresh juice vans and such like.  One top tip is to remember that sports people eat a lot and at much more regular intervals than us lowly mortals. I learnt this when facing a hangry international rugby player as I asked if we could get one more setup before he finished for the day (a bag of dried fruit and nuts helped achieve a positive outcome).

Q> Naming no names, what is the most grandiose request you have had from a celebrity?

PSN Ireland> Somewhat disappointingly we have yet to see one that is properly outrageous. The most extravagant request that comes to mind is for black Dyptique candles to be in every area that one ‘star’ and their entourage would (or even just might) be in – it required boxes of extremely expensive candles.  

Q> What shoot was a highlight for you when working with a celebrity talent?

PSN Ireland> We’ve had the pleasure over the years of working with talent such as Bob Dylan, U2, Rihanna, Conor McGregor, Doutzen Kroes, Pearse Brosnan, many of the Irish rugby team, Katie Taylor (Olympic Gold medalist and world champion), the cast of History Channel’s “The Vikings”, the cast of Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” and myriad high-profile directors and DOPs.  But probably the one I was personally most star struck to meet was the legendary Peter O’Toole.  Lawrence of Arabia is still one of my all-time favourite films and to meet Peter himself was fantastic.

Q> Which type of celebrities are hardest to pin down time-wise? 

PSN Ireland> The stars who pose the biggest challenge are those who are well known in fields outside the entertainment industry.   They cannot understand why it takes so long to shoot a commercial or promo.  Even the seasoned performers who are used to media work find commercial filming quite a chore. They may be used to interviews and press days but that is completely different work to commercial production and invariably we find ourselves at some point in the day trying to find ‘the talent’ who have wandered off somewhere, bored.  It can be worse when there are several of them together trying to alleviate the boredom by playing practical jokes on each other, and the crew. It usually makes for great fun but can be a little stressful as the hands on the clock keep ticking by!   

Q> Do you or your country have any special features which make it easy to work with celebrity talent?

PSN Ireland> As we have such a well-developed and busy TV and film industry in Ireland, all of the facilities required are available to us, for example star Winnebagos, great (and discreet) limo drivers, crew who are not fazed by fame, personal security personnel who are suitably low key and unobtrusive.  All of those practicalities combined with a great range and variety of locations and studios within established shooting hubs make Ireland a really  easy place to work.  And we have great craic while doing  it!

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