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Meet Your Makers: Learning Weird Things with Cath Long

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Snap London’s TV producer on the power of helping, staying calm in a crisis and the joys of not using fax machines

Meet Your Makers: Learning Weird Things with Cath Long

Cath Long (or Clong to her friends) is a producer at Snap London, where her responsibilities include finding money out of thin air, organising gargantuan shoots that would make Winston Wolf cry and always keeping her creatives well fed with temaki rolls and/or gyoza dumplings.  


LBB> What first attracted you to production - and has it been an industry you’ve always worked on or did you come to it from another area?

Cath> My parents met at Leo Burnett in the 70s so it felt kind of inevitable that I’d end up in advertising. I have always been organised (and bossy apparently) so when I landed a job in production no one was too surprised.  


LBB> What was your first role in the production world and how did this experience influence how you think about production and how you grew your career?

Cath> My first role was as a runner at a production company. I worked with an amazing and supportive group of people. It made me realise the power of building each other up.  


LBB> How did you learn to be a producer?

Cath> I moved from production to agency and got a role working for a seriously old school producer. I tottered around behind her for a year watching and learning. For Christmas she bought me fold away flats as she got so fed up of my walking in heels slowing her down.  


LBB> Looking back to the beginning of your career, can you tell us about a production you were involved in where you really had to dig deep and that really helped you to grow as a producer?

Cath> I was working on a job with a difficult client who also featured in the ads alongside a celebrity and the combination made for quite a toxic set. After a few deep breaths in a dark corridor, I had to remind myself that at the end of the day it’s just an ad. We aren’t saving lives here.  


LBB> A good producer should be able to produce for any medium, from film to events to digital experience. 

Cath> We can produce any format, but do I want to? Personally, no. I would rather excel in one area than be mediocre in many.   


LBB> What’s your favourite thing about production and why?

Cath> I love that we’re always doing something different. We learn really weird things, from the optimal time to shoot a cow’s udders to the inner workings of a cruise liner.    


LBB> How has production changed since you started your career?

Cath> Oh it’s changed in so many ways. Possibly the best change has been that no one uses fax machines anymore. They always seemed to break the night before a shoot when we were trying to send out call sheets.    


LBB> And what has stayed the same?

Cath> That we are all still energised by the work we do. Covid has made me realise that people are so important. What’s the point in doing all this if we don’t have fun too?    


LBB> What do you think is the key to being an effective producer - and is it something that’s innate or something that can be learned?

Cath> Staying calm is a big thing for me. There’s always a solution, I just need to find it. We all approach producing differently. I think you’ve just got to find what works for you rather than trying to be someone else. 


LBB> Which production project from across your career are you most proud of and why?

Cath> I am really proud of the BeMoreDog campaign. It was one of those productions that sounded amazing on paper, then crazy at the treatment stage, then turned out exactly as we’d all imagined.    


LBB> And in terms of recent work, which projects have you found to be particularly exciting or have presented particularly interesting production challenges?

Cath> I was very fortunate and got to travel abroad with work last year. Which was great for me, but not so much for the director who got Covid for two of the three shoots. Thank God for Covid back up plans and the tripartite agreement.  


LBB> Producers always have the best stories. What’s the hairiest / most insane situation you’ve found yourself in and how did you work your way out of it?

Cath> Yeah, the best stories are only fit for the pub I’m afraid. I did once get a helicopter to a wrap party after a one-day shoot in New Zealand.   


LBB> What are your personal ambitions or aspirations as a producer?

Cath> We’re in an industry that generally asks people to buy more, consume more. I’m currently working to find a way that we and our clients can offset some of this.  


LBB> As a producer your brain must have a neverending "to do" list. How do you switch off? What do you do to relax?  

Cath> A gimlet or four usually does the trick.  


LBB> Producers are problem solvers. What personally fuels your curiosity and drive?  

Cath> I like making people happy, I think that drives me to find solutions. It’s a great feeling when you can tell people you’ve found a way to bring their idea to life.  


LBB> What advice would you give to people who are interested in becoming a producer?

Cath> Watch people, learn from the producers you like and ask questions. Also, be nice to people, build relationships. 


LBB> From your experience what are the ingredients for a successful production?

Cath> Having time and a decent budget are the dream. But if you don’t have those most often it’s the relationships you’ve formed that will help you though. In the last year we’ve had quite a few jobs that only happened because of a phone call to a friend and taking a chance on young directors.  


LBB> What’s the key to a successful production-client relationship?

Cath> Honesty. I don’t like keeping things back or hiding from issues. If we all know where we stand, together we can solve any problem.      

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Snap London, Tue, 22 Feb 2022 12:14:33 GMT