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Meet Your Makers: Nadya Tereshina on the Importance of Character


a.k.a Media's senior producer on quick solutions, looking 'out of the box' and the need for passion

Meet Your Makers: Nadya Tereshina on the Importance of Character

Fixer, organiser, hand-holder, negotiator extraordinaire; Nadya Tereshina’s career as a producer in the last ten years has been characterised by something missing in her character: the word ‘no’. A friend to those who hold the purse strings and a formidable bargain hunter regarding the talent she needs to bring together. Nadya’s asset value to the multitude of productions she’s controlled in numerous economic conditions and cultures, has become almost legendary in her industry.


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?

Nadya> I started in a client service department back in 2005, mainly printing and copying invoices as a trainee. I guess I was good at it – I was offered a part-time job since I was still studying. Growing at the agency in client services, I started to attend client shoots. That’s where I realised how production could be challenging yet interesting, and how quickly you need to find a solution. From my first shoot, I fell in love with it and less than a year later I moved to the TV production department, where my career journey began. 

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?

Nadya> I was a junior agency producer - very junior and very eager to learn, but more eager to be the part of this unreachable community of directors and DOPs, executive producers, which at that time were the elite of Moscow. The team I worked with both on the production and agency side taught me a lot - not only how to do things but who to be to do things. Character matters as much as work skills. 

LBB> How did you learn to be a producer?

Nadya> When I left Moscow and moved to Dubai, I started on the production side and it was a wild ride. Especially my first project in a foreign country, where I had never worked before. It was challenging and stressful, to say the least. We had a big celebrity on shoot, I was fresh and bold with six years of agency experience behind me, which helped a lot in navigating how to talk and solve problems. I still remember when we wrapped up day two, I almost burst in tears. I believe this was my best school and gave me an incredible lesson not only on the work front, but made me able to evaluate, foresee and be ready for anything. 

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?

Nadya> I would say there is no specific production I could name here. With all of them, especially in the first year when I moved to Dubai, I had to think and look ‘out of the box’ every day. While the process is the same; attitude, characters, people are different in each country, so changing countries and learning to be a producer took quite a few productions. 

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? 

Nadya> Not events, for sure! It’s so different from video / digital experience. I have a lot of friends working on big events, but if anyone asked me to replace them for a day, I would deliberately break my leg. Events are different both from management and the technical part, especially when it comes to big public events. For the rest of the medium – in the current dynamic landscape I would definitely agree that the producer has to be able to execute any project from film to digital activations. Throughout my career, I’ve found out that sometimes smaller productions require more creativity than larger ones. Especially when it comes to digital – you have a great idea, limited budget and still you want to make this idea happen. You have to be creative. Actually, creativity is one of the back bones of being a producer. You need to think out of the box to find a way. I would call it the art of finding a solution. That something which you can never stop mastering, as solutions are always different. 

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

Nadya> It seems that the flow is always the same, but each project is so different, on each project you learn something new, meet new people. I would say I love the challenge - and you have to be brave to do it. 

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

Nadya> I was shooting on a film as an agency producer and at that moment, I remember how I was arguing with my creative director about more takes as we had cans to count! This is long gone now, of course. The production industry has advanced, whether high level post production equipment and new techniques or virtual studios. Back in 2009, we travelled to South Africa to shoot – now we could just build a studio and have a fascinating virtual background. Technology serves us at its best and is pushing the industry forward. 

LBB> And what has stayed the same?

Nadya> Passion. If you don’t have passion – you won’t stay in the industry for long. 

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?

Nadya> I think as long as you have the right mindset and a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you can learn. The key is being flexible and creative, but keeping a healthy balance between creativity and numbers. A producer’s work is to make sure things happen within the budget. That’s where we can use our creativity and out of the box thinking. I also would mention communication and negotiations skills – it is important, when you have to give the rationale for certain specific details or solve a seemingly unsolvable issue with location, for example.

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

Nadya> Surprisingly, it won’t be anything big or any massive shoot. I am very proud of our small in-house film ‘Pause’, which was written by our friend - creative director John Smeddle. It was produced by us as a reaction and response to the early days of the pandemic, and you can see it here. It was not about production, but more about the message we put into the film. I saw my iron-nerved friend crying after watching it, but through a big smile. And it was absolutely great! Sometimes our work is not just about getting things done, but about helping the team to bring the message, which can light up the mood.

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

Nadya> I enjoyed working on Alan’s Walker x Imanbek Sweet Dreams music video. We shot it as a car TVC with Russian arm and other toys. Locations were challenging with various terrain from mountains to dunes. But the biggest challenge was to find the cars, which would be unique and aggressive enough to go on such terrains. We spent a long time scouting for the cars across all seven Emirates and finally managed to secure custom-made private cars, the only ones in the world! 

The most recent one was our second feature for Netflix with ‘Ebony Life’. There were plenty of challenges starting with short turnaround times due to flight restrictions, and last-minute changes due to flights. We had to be fast, efficient and think ahead with several possible scenarios. The shoot was tough, but at the end, I believe we made a great movie. It’s coming out at the end of year in Nigeria and online.  

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?

Nadya> I certainly have plenty of those! An hour wouldn’t be enough to tell them. In December 2020, we were filming a commercial with a dog featured in a few shots – but both the dog and the dog’s double refused to lick the actress’s cheek. And it was outdoors and we were losing daylight. The dog got tired and didn’t want to do anything anymore. And we promised that shot. I called a friend, who had a similar dog, she redirected me to her vet, her vet redirected me to another girl, who had exactly same dog as ours. (We only had an hour to find a similar dog and film it). That person was free, luckily, and she came on set and the dog performed. That was probably one of the most tense and insane ‘go find a solution’ stories. 

Another one happened years ago on a big-scale production – we had around 10,000 orange balloons being prepped by an art department overnight on location, which was next to a bar, and it was the weekend. At 3am the poor set dressers had to fight people who literally were having fun, playing with balloons and trying to take them home. I never dealt with so many bar goers in one night – the team called us for help! 

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

Nadya> I would love to slowly move into concept creation, moving from executing things to actually creating messages, tell the stories, be part of the initial conceptualising stage and then move into execution.

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?

Nadya> I don’t get tired of what I do, just as I don’t mind checking emails or answering a message on leave or over the weekend. It’s not about promoting 24/7 work, but I think when you love what you do, it doesn’t really feel like work. Maybe, this could change when you have children, but for now I’m enjoying my lifestyle. 

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

Nadya> Exactly this – solve the problem! I love finding solutions, finding ideas and ways to make things happen. It is exciting, challenging and as a result you find solutions not only at work, but in all other areas of life. I love being on the move and being a producer gives me this specific feel – being constantly on the move. 

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

Nadya> Just do it! If you are passionate, problem-solving oriented, and want to explore the world from another perspective – just do it. I would also definitely advise to try both sides – be it production or ad agency. It gives perspective when you approach the project. I am really grateful that I had experience with both worlds. 

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

Nadya> Of course, budget is important, but what makes production happen is the crew and chemistry. We had a very challenging production in 2019, where it seemed impossible to accomplish within the time and budget, however we managed to put together the right crew, who wanted to do something great and we did it. The result was above expectations. 

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

Nadya> Being open and transparent. As long as expectations are set and aligned, it makes it so much easier to run a production. Also understanding is very important. It comes from expectations. And the last but not least – cooperation. We are not just a service provider, we are production partners. When all parties involved are being treated as partners it always comes to a great result, great human connection and great experience. 

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a.k.a. Media, Thu, 26 Aug 2021 11:25:40 GMT