Creative and conscientious, Peta Sacke’s obsession with detail and precision has served her well over 25 years in the South African production industry. She stumbled into it by accident, becoming a receptionist and working her way up. Over that time she has worked with some of the best known South African production companies – and in 2020 she joined the team at Robot.
Peta shares her journey – it’s not all been smooth sailing, and Peta has some reassuring insight for anyone still starting out on their production career.
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?
Peta> Madly enough, I was in the travel business. Booking holidays for people, instead of going on them myself. My ex at the time was in the industry and I was really torn and not sure what I wanted to do with my life. So, I really fell into it by chance. I was lucky enough to start out with the most unbelievable company and they became like family to me.
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?
Peta> I started off as a receptionist and then became the in-house production coordinator. This was way back in 1996. I am an detail-obsessed person to begin with so being able to take control and plot and plan, suited my personality down to the ground. I am not sure that first role influenced me because I was quite young and naïve but as I matured, and the more experience I got, I think that is when I realized my capabilities and I what I could bring to the party.
LBB> How did you learn to be a producer?
Peta> Gosh, this was years and years (probably way too many years) of being a Production Manager for some of the most hardcore directors in the country! Many years of blood, sweat and a lot of tears, I guess. Until eventually I realized I had to let go of that role to move into the next chapter.
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?
Peta> That is easy – I worked on a job for VW Touareg when it was just being launched in South Africa. We shot in Cape Town, Springbok, Namibia, Port Nolloth and back to Cape Town. This one broke me… it was one of the most challenging jobs I have ever worked on. I think I sobbed every day on this one. The worst part was being stuck in the desert basically, just my producer and I, in the absolute dark of night, trying to navigate long winding, curving, bumpy roads alone! Argh…it still makes me anxious! Actually, now that I think back, it might have been less traumatic if we were driving a Touareg ourselves!
LBB> A good producer should be able to produce for any medium, from film to events to digital experience. What do you think about that statement?
Peta> I guess I do agree – if you are a good producer, you should be able to throw together anything, using the same principles! Ofcourse, there is always space to learn and grow but I think with the right foundation … you should be in a good place
LBB> What’s your favourite thing about production and why?
Peta> I am a very pedantic, organized, control freak sort of person so I do like the fact that I can organize, make lists, make things happen and see the final product coming together. Also, the trust that people put in me just makes me want to prove them right!
LBB> How has production changed since you started your career?
Peta> It has changed massively! I started in 1996 so it’s been a few decades and things have simplified to some degree and also become a little more complicated. Things like presentations, when we had to travel with four massive bags full of large pieces of cardboards with references pictures stuck all over the place. That paper trail is not missed at all!
LBB> And what has stayed the same?
Peta> Well as far as I am concerned, my principles, trust, commitment, dedication and staying power have not changed.