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Meet Your Makers: Producing in the 'Real World' with Lucy Gatanis

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Assembly producer on being thrown into the fire, exercising her creativity and learning what kind of producer to be

Meet Your Makers: Producing in the 'Real World' with Lucy Gatanis

Lucy Gatanis is a producer for newly launch Post-Production studio, Assembly. With a focus on producing award-winning Colour work, Lucy joined Assembly from The Mill. She's produced everything from short films to Super Bowl commercials, with some of the US' most iconic brands.


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?

Lucy> I went to film school and was interested in writing for TV. A friend of mine told me I’d be a good producer since I’m good at keeping things organised, so I tried my hand at producing some student films and shows outside of my classes and had a blast doing it. 

I made some of my closest friends working on them, and was always so impressed that the crew gave it their all even though no one was getting paid. I thought that once I produced in the “real world” it would be completely different but no matter what the project or budget is, it’s really just about rolling up your sleeves and pulling all the pieces together. 


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?

Lucy> After college I got a job as a runner and through watching producers go above and beyond for their clients, I learned about the kind of producer I want to be. The best producers treated all artists, clients, and runners with the same level of kindness in respect no matter how busy they were, and that’s something I definitely wanted to take with me. 


LBB> How did you learn to be a producer?

Lucy> Being thrown into the fire! When I was a production coordinator and my producer was out sick, I let myself panic for about five minutes then told myself I just had to do whatever I could to put out as many fires as possible. Of course, everything turned out okay, and I found that I knew much more than I thought I did. I had to ask my colour assists and colourists a lot of questions, but it actually made me a better producer and helped us build a good rapport. 


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?

Lucy> Before my career started, I wrote and produced a web series in college. It had a crew of about 20 people and it was my first time leading a team that large. A lot of them were younger than me, so it was important for me to make them feel comfortable working together and expressing their opinions and creativity. Of course, there were a lot of bumps in the road (as all productions have) but since my co-producer and I established a healthy environment from the beginning it never felt like we couldn’t work through any issues as a team.


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? Why/why not?

Lucy> I think you need to have some basic knowledge of whatever medium you’re producing. I definitely needed to be trained to produce colour, since there are a lot of technical aspects, I didn’t know at all. No matter what you’re producing you should know how to wrangle a bunch of moving parts, think ahead, communicate well, and keep a level head. 


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

Lucy> I love helping people’s careers grow, and watching them hit new milestones. It’s really rewarding. 


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

Lucy> Doing remote colour sessions since the start of the pandemic has been quite the adjustment, but it’s created a more casual environment with my clients which I like. Seeing a baby or a dog walk by in the background of a video call is always a highlight of any meeting for me!


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?

Lucy> I’ve seen a lot of different styles of producing that are effective. The way you communicate is something that’s innate, since your life experiences inform how you interact with other people. That being said, I’ve learned how to be a better producer by watching how others handle difficult emails or phone calls. Every project I work on I learn something new. 


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

Lucy> Any project I’m working on that has an important message or is for a good cause is one I’m proud of. These are also the projects that everyone involved puts a lot of love into, so it’s a great experience all around. 


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

Lucy> I’d love to exercise my creativity more, and learn as much as I can from the artists I’m producing. It would be cool to try my hand at the programs they’re using every day, and I’d be learning from the best!


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

Lucy> At the end of the day, I’ll go over my to-do list and if it doesn’t have to be done that day I’ll save it for the morning. I’m a morning person, so I’d rather do the task well when I’m awake and energised rather than do a poor job when I’m tired.

If I’m not commuting back and forth from the office it’s harder to switch off, but I try my hardest to not open my work laptop after I’ve closed it for the day. I love zoning out to a good TV show, so that’s usually how I’ll conclude my work day. 


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

Lucy> Someone early in my career told me that a good producer never says “no” without offering multiple solutions or other avenues. I think coming up with a really good compromise that puts everyone at ease feels more rewarding than you’d think.


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

Lucy> Be enthusiastic and a team player. And take notes on everything. There’s a lot of information to take in that eventually gets tangled in your brain so it’s best to just get it all down on paper. Also make sure you read everything carefully - skimming an email and missing key information takes up valuable time which could be avoided.


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

Lucy> Trust. Trusting everyone on your team to do well puts everyone at ease and having someone breathe down your neck is unsettling for anyone.


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

Lucy> Communication. I find most issues arise when people assume everyone else knows what the plan is, so it’s better to get all the details (even if they seem redundant) out of the way at the beginning of a project so everyone is on the same page moving forward. 

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Assembly, Tue, 15 Mar 2022 08:30:27 GMT