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Meet the International Women of Smoke & Mirrors

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To mark International Women’s Day Smoke & Mirrors find out about what inspires and drives the women who work there

Meet the International Women of Smoke & Mirrors
In the week of International Women’s Day, we thought we’d take this opportunity to celebrate the range of women who make Smoke & Mirrors great, from London to Amsterdam to New York.

We spoke to Donna Head, executive producer at Smoke & Mirrors London, Amanda Wallis, executive producer at Rock Hound London, Marika Shatova, editor at Smoke & Mirrors London, Lonneke Bertens, senior producer at Smoke & Mirrors Amsterdam, Wei-Ting Duo, CGI Artist, at Smoke & Mirrors New York, Hannah Whitehill, producer at Smoke & Mirrors London and Chantal Gold, production assistant at Rock Hound London.


Donna Head, executive producer at Smoke & Mirrors London

Q> Tell us a bit about how you got into post-production?

DH> I started my career in advertising as a PA on the international Philip Morris account at Leo Burnett.  Part of my role required me to attend meetings and take minutes in most European capital cities.  At the age of 21, I seriously thought that I had the best job in the world.  My second job was at AMV/BBDO where I moved into TV production after two years in account management. Frank Lieberman, head of TV at the time, approached me as I was cursing and kicking the photocopier to ask me if I would like a job in TV.  I stopped swearing, smiled sweetly and answered yes please. And that’s how I got into production. I went on to work at several brilliant creative agencies before moving into post-production, including Euro RSCG, WCRS & Mother and feel proud to have been involved in some hugely successful, award-winning campaigns.

Q> What and who are the primary inspirations in your work?

DH> My main inspiration is working with talented people who are passionate and understand every aspect of the process.
Q> Finally, what words of encouragement do you offer to women entering the advertising industry?

DH> The same words I would offer to a man. Work hard, get stuck in and never stop learning. A career in advertising is entirely what you make it. It has evolved massively since I started out, and I'm still learning. It can be challenging, fun, exciting and painful. Embrace it all.  



Amanda Wallis, executive producer at Rock Hound London

Q> Tell us a bit about how you got into production?

AW> I studied graphic design at Art College, but after a restrictive work placement decided I didn’t want to be a designer! I went on to gain a BA in design management at Surrey University instead.

My first job was as a production assistant for ROCQM, a sister agency to Ogilvy One. It was a fantastic introduction to the creative advertising process. 18 months later I moved to McCann Erickson as a traffic manager. A fantastic team of people surrounded me, we worked incredibly hard but played hard too. I worked my way up to senior traffic manager, managing accounts for Gateway, Motorola, Cereal Partners, Glenfiddich, and Black and Decker. Five years later I leapt over to the post-production company Admagic, client servicing BBH, WCRS and M&C Saatchi. Tag took over this company in 2006, and I’ve been part of the furniture ever since.  I now run all photographic services for Smoke & Mirrors’ content agency: Rock Hound, as well as Smoke & Mirrors and Williams Lea Tag.

Q> What and who are the primary inspirations for your work?

AW> People with enthusiasm and passion to make extraordinary work.

Q> What projects have you have been working on recently?

DH> My job is relatively varied every day. I could be presenting folios, quoting on photographic shoots, researching shoot locations or producing on location. Recent clients include Sainsbury's, Talk Talk, L’Oréal, and News UK.

Q> Finally, what words of encouragement do you offer to women entering the advertising industry?

AW> Never be rude to anyone, from the cleaner to the CEO. There is simply no need, and besides you never know when you may need them. Write lists, and carry a notebook and pen everywhere.

Most of all, enjoy.


Marika Shatova, editor at Smoke & Mirrors London

Q> Tell us a bit about how you got into editing?

MS> I got into editing during my time in university, doing a series of projects for youth organisations. 
 
Q> What and who are the primary inspirations in your work?

MS> Hamish Hamilton and Es Devlin are just a couple of my British inspirations. They are pioneers in their fields and their storytelling methods are unique. 
 
Q> What projects have you have been working on recently?

MS> I have been working on a variety of beauty and car ads, as well as a short film idea in my personal time.
 
Q> Finally, what words of encouragement do you offer to women entering the advertising industry? 

MS> Stick to what you believe in, not what restraints people put on you. I would say humility is the best trait when working in a creative field. 




Lonneke Bertens, senior producer at Smoke & Mirrors Amsterdam

Q> Tell us a bit about how you got into post-production?

LB> When I started running at VTR in London many years ago, I thought “I want to produce.” I have been producing for quite some time now, across many different genres. From post-producing on documentaries to series to commercials, I never stop enjoying getting everything sorted and bringing a project to the best end possible; as well as meeting lovely new people along the way.

Q> What and who are the primary inspirations for your work?

LB> That is a tricky one, or not; there are many… but I've always been inspired by the moments when you manage to pull something off as a team. Apart from all skills everyone has individually, when you all manage to combine them in the right way; that is what I find very much rewarding and inspiring. 

Q> What projects have you have been working on recently?

LB> At Smoke & Mirrors Amsterdam I have had the pleasure of working on TVCs for DHL, Villanova, Blue Band, Desperados and Strongbow.

Q> Finally, what words of encouragement do you offer to women entering the industry?

LB> There are so many aspects of this industry; you can start in one direction and find out along the way you fit better in a different position. Have the courage to try things out and see what works best for you. Understanding the industry from various sides is exciting and can help your overview.



Wei-Ting Duo, CGI Artist, at Smoke & Mirrors New York

Q> Tell us a bit about how you got into CGI?

WTD> Growing up I always loved drawing, painting and creating art, I knew I was going to do something artistic, but I wasn’t sure what I would do for a living as a fine art major in college; until I had an opportunity to take a 3D animation course. I wasn’t intuitive to learn the software at first, but was drawn in by the storytelling and limitless possibilities of the creative work. I also liked how CG is a combination of technical and artistic skills, and as a practical and artistic person who loves learning technical skills, I then pursued an MFA in Computer Arts at The School of Visual Arts and entered the CG industry.

Q> What and who are the primary inspirations for your work?

WTD> Pixar’s ‘Up’ inspired me as a student to create my thesis film. Once I entered the industry, I found out that a lot of things can inspire me that are right in front of my eyes. As a CG artist who specialises in lighting, I continuously observe and look for references in real life, from walking through Soho and seeing how sunlight shapes the buildings to a co-worker sharing a new film trailer, animation or video game. 

Q> What projects have you have been working on recently?

WTD> For the past few months, I have been working on four full CG commercials for a big mobile game app. I am the CG Lead for all four spots, and as the project lead, I am responsible for directing our artists from the inception stage to the final image. To me, it is the most exciting and challenging project I’ve ever worked on.

Q> Finally, what words of encouragement do you offer to women entering the industry?

WTD> Be true to yourself. Follow your passion and do what you love! This industry is all about the talent and personality you bring to the table. It’s not an easy path and requires a lot of hard work, but it is rewarding when you see the results. It is an example of yet another industry that is heavily male-dominated, but on the bright side, you’re judged entirely on your artistic eye and technical skill; there is not much room for politics and in-fighting, all that matters is doing your role efficiently for the job and creating memorable work as a team. At the end of the day your work speaks for itself.  



Hannah Whitehill, producer at Smoke & Mirrors London

Q> Tell us a bit about how you got into post-production?

HW> Someone who already worked at Smoke & Mirrors encouraged me to send in my CV and, after I embarrassingly turned up to a casual interview in my best formal wear, I was brought on as runner… I completely abandoned the last 3 months of university to join, and the rest is history!
  
Q> What projects have you have been working on recently?

HW> As well as the usual clients I work with-TalkTalk, Argos, Skybet-I’ve worked on some beautiful music videos for bands like Hello Violet and Hercules and Love Affair, as well as brands like InterCasino and Mini. Hopefully, the variety will continue throughout 2018!
 
Q> Finally, what words of encouragement do you offer to women entering the advertising industry?

HW> 1.      Always ask questions – everyone’s learning new stuff every day so never think that you are asking a stupid question or wasting someone’s time.
2.      Don’t take things to heart, people are simply trying to get the job done most of the time, and when there are tight deadlines, stress levels are high, and people can snap. Take it in your stride – as long as you are doing your best that’s all you can do.



Chantal Gold, production assistant at Rock Hound London

Q> Tell us a bit about how you got into production?

CG> I always knew I wanted to be in the creative world. I chose not to go to university and instead get straight into the industry- from the age of 15, I was doing work experience wherever and whenever I could. In my last year of A-levels, I started running at Smoke & Mirrors. During my five months running I trained persistently until I managed to land the role of production assistant for Smoke & Mirrors’ content agency, Rock Hound.
 
Q> What and who are the primary inspirations for your work?

CG> With the risk of sounding ridiculously cheesy: everyone that surrounds me and their strong passion for creating art. 
 
Q> What projects have you have been working on recently?

CG> Recently, I have been working on the pre-production for a TVC for Wiggle. I also had a hands-on role for a fashion film for Sadie Williams’ SS18 collection, alongside helping out on some agency production for Diet Coke 
 
Q> Finally, what words of encouragement do you offer to women entering the advertising industry?

CG> Go for it. Work hard. Never let anyone hold you back and don’t ever let anybody belittle your voice.
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Tag, Tue, 06 Mar 2018 11:26:04 GMT