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Meet Your Makers: Making the Seemingly Impossible Happen with Alisha Hawkins

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BIEN senior producer Alisha on starting from the bottom, immersing herself in the project and finding solutions no matter how crazy the request

Meet Your Makers: Making the Seemingly Impossible Happen with Alisha Hawkins

Alisha Hawkins is a lifelong North Carolinian, currently living in Raleigh. With a decade of experience in the industry, she’s got a thirst for info and the loudest laugh in the room.

Alisha graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Journalism. She got bitten by the production bug while working at an agency, and she never looked back.

Very passionate about what she does, Alisha’s favourite place to be is around creatives. Be it in an editing suite, or on set she thrives on being around the folks that get it done. So much so, that she’s engaged to a motion graphics designer.

She has been given amazing opportunities to travel the world to shoot live-action stories, but she also loves being at home with her fiancé, as well as her two pups.


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? 

Alisha> I graduated college in 2007, right when the economic decline hit. My degree in journalism didn’t feel super useful, so I found myself working for a printing and mailing company. While not the most glamorous job, I always found it so interesting when jobs for large campaigns would come in. I would always wonder what the process was like to design that booklet or flier. This curiosity made me determined to work in advertising one day, I had no idea what I was getting into, but I can honestly say I could never imagine doing anything else.


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?

Alisha> My first job in the industry was the lowest level project coordinator/PA. I’m talking real grunt work. This experience taught me that starting from the bottom is the most valuable thing you can do in this industry. It forces you to be humble, and teaches you to look at every job and consider how it affects every person involved…even the lowly PA.


LBB> How did you learn to be a producer?

Alisha> Honestly, it was passion. I know that sounds incredibly cliché, but my personality lends itself to throwing everything I have into something. So, when I became very interested in producing, I just immersed myself in it. I read books, watched videos, asked for any and every opportunity to do more and more, and to keep learning.


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?

Alisha> I had a shoot a few years into my career that required filming snow blowers in July. The client had their heart set on real snow, and we weren’t down with using all stock. So, my team and I came up with the idea to film at a home with a large driveway. We tented the driveway, added an industrial AC unit, and hired a company that does snow for kids birthday parties. I don’t think any of us thought it would work as well as it did. This definitely instilled in me the want to always find a solution…no matter how crazy it might seem.


LBB> A good producer should be able to produce for any medium, from film to events to digital experience. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? 

Alisha> I think that a producer can be really good at roughly two things at a time. I’ve got lots of experience in live action production, as well as animation. Could I plan an event? I could try, but I couldn’t do it nearly as well as those that do it for a living. I think that in order for us to do our best work, we need to focus on certain areas, and leave the rest to those interested in those things.


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

Alisha> 100% working with creatives. Be it crew on set, or animators, I find it so fascinating to see other people doing what they are truly passionate about. I’m not even close to being an artist, and I find it so interesting how some people can just create such amazing things out of thin air.


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

Alisha> Technology has changed for the better in the past 10 years, and we can do so much more with it.


LBB> And what has stayed the same?

Alisha> The drive I see in those around me. I don’t think that will ever go away.


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?

Alisha> Being organised. I think it’s a combo of innate and learned. I think most producers have a tinge of a type A personality, but you also have to learn methods that work for you to stay organised.


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

Alisha> I couldn’t possibly choose one project, but I can choose a genre. Anything that includes a vulnerable story from a real person is always so rewarding. I’ve worked on projects with a range of stories that include topics I would have never tried to learn about otherwise. When someone takes the time to tell their story, especially if it’s impactful, I just love it. Maybe that’s my journalism background peeking through.


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

Alisha> Lately I’ve been working a lot more with cel animation and I find it so fascinating. I’m just mesmerised with the movement of cel, and the great deal of work that goes into it.


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?

Alisha> Doing so much live action, it’s nothing but insanity, so it’s hard to nail down one instance. Producers are always in some kind of wild situation. I will say, producers retain a lot of info. You may think they are just having a conversation, but they are remembering everything you are saying. I was working on a project a few years ago and they asked for a period specific car at the last minute. I then recalled a conversation I had with an acquaintance about their love of vintage cars, especially from this era. I immediately reached out, and through their network we found exactly what we needed.


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

Alisha> I just want to keep learning. I never want to be in a situation where I can’t learn something from someone. I also want to continue to be a producer creatives want to work with. 


LBB> As a producer your brain must have a never ending "to do" list. How do you switch off? What do you do to relax?

Alisha> I can’t say I’m 100% good at this. I try to silence my notifications, or put my phone on do not disturb after a certain time. I relax by spending time with my family, or doing the only creative thing I’m pretty good at…making jewellery out of polymer clay.


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

Alisha> I love looking back on a difficult project and remembering what I contributed to solve a problem. I get a sense of accomplishment from making something seemingly impossible happen.


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

Alisha> Always stay humble. Always be learning. Never have an ego about anything. Always be down to do the grunt work. Always listen to everyone you come in contact with. You never know when you might need exactly what someone has.


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

Alisha> A successful production for me includes a hard-working team. People that are willing to work together and make it happen is always a recipe for success.


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

Alisha> Transparency…be it budget, schedule, creative. Always be honest with what to expect across the board. Oh and terrible jokes on calls. I always like to have a good laugh on a client call.


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BIEN, Wed, 25 Aug 2021 10:30:08 GMT