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Meet Your Makers: The Need to Be Naturally Curious with Tia Perkins

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Carbon NY's head of production on collaboration, understanding and why production is the glue of the entire process

Meet Your Makers: The Need to Be Naturally Curious with Tia Perkins

Tia Perkins is head of production at creative studio Carbon in New York. The multiskilled leader previously worked at The Mill, where she spent 12 years partnering with some of the best brands and brightest minds in the business. Known for her collaborative and supportive leadership style, Tia focusses on fostering agency and brand relationships at Carbon and building the studio’s growing team of artists, designers, and directors.

Tia’s many career highlights include large-scale and complex productions both domestic and international, from the iconic CG Chantix Turkey to live action or interactive campaigns for HP, Gatorade, and Jack Daniel’s. Design and animation work includes the opening titles to Netflix’s Marco Polo, a brand campaign for Cartier, and BLONDIE’s ‘Doom or Die’ music video.


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? 

Tia> I first became attracted to production from watching movies and waiting to see the behind the scenes. I was fascinated by the crew, lights and moving cameras. I used to dance competitively and up until that point I always thought I would be a part of a Broadway Show as a stage manager or something along those lines. Production became a way to be a part of a performance in a sense, just in a different way.  

 

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?  

Tia> My first experience was actually as an intern at Lifetime Television and on the Soap Opera One Life To Live. I was handing out scripts, calling actors to set for the AD, and reading along practising lines. I knew I wanted to be on set and was interested in all things that related to production. I loved the energy, the buzz, and the feeling of instant gratification when you wrap for the day knowing you got something in the camera. 

 

LBB> How did you learn to be a producer? 

Tia> I started my career as a runner in client services at The Mill, then a scheduler for artists, and moved into being a content coordinator. The content team took a chance on me, I didn’t have the exact experience, but they must have saw my determination and drive and brought me into the fold. I had/have an amazing mentor that taught me along the way, encouraged me when I doubted myself, and guided me when I inevitably made mistakes. Between him and my senior producer, they really shaped the way I worked and how I learned to be a good coordinator, then production manager, producer, and senior producer. I owe them so much for the environment they gave me to learn in.


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? 

Tia> I remember my first travel job. I was in a room with clients and then went to relay the client notes to the on-set producer and director. I was so nervous, I wanted to make sure the clients felt heard, but also be concise and clear in my delivery to the senior producer. We were running out of time in our day, and I really needed to gather all eight of them and wrangle them in a way I hadn’t done before. Looking back, I think it was a turning moment for me that showed me I could do this. That I thrived in that environment, and though I was definitely nervous and at times unsure, I think it was the first time I felt tested and out of my element in production. I walked away that day feeling really proud and knowing that I wanted more of whatever that feeling was. Accomplishment?  


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?  

Tia> Definitely not, I think a good producer knows their limits and where their strengths are. I think a statement like this feels like a good artist should be able to do Flame, CG, Design, and Edit! You would never say that. Don’t get me wrong, there are people that have producing skills that can span multiple disciplines, sure. However, there are specific skills that lend themselves to certain mediums, i.e. a live-action producer that knows the ins and outs of Union Crews, shooting overseas, and SAG contracts, has a very different skillset than a post producer that knows the full breakdown of a CG or Design pipeline, and a posting schedule that makes sense. To say you can produce for any medium doesn’t give credit to the experts in each field. 

 

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

Tia> My favorite thing about production is that it’s the glue for an entire creative process. Production takes ideas, artists, creatives, and clients, and wrangles all of the moving parts into something that produces (no pun intended) a work of art. Finding the right artists, or working through a calendar, are all parts of creating - just in a different way. For those of us that love being creative but might not be artists ourselves, it’s a way to be deeply committed and involved in a process that yields a piece of art. 


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

Tia> I’m not sure production has changed very much since I’ve started my career, I think I’ve just gotten better at navigating it. When you start your career, I think you are sheltered a bit by all the ins and outs of production, you are solely focused on the task at hand and doing your best at it. As you develop more, and gain more responsibility, you are privy to more than before. 

 

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? 

Tia> I think being a producer, a good one, is something that’s innate. You need to be organised, and pragmatic, but also to dive in deep and have an understanding of process and why things work or don’t work. To be an effective producer you need to always be a step ahead of a problem that doesn’t exist yet - not reactive but proactive. I like to think a lot of firstborns end up being producers (maybe because I’m the oldest of five), but there is something about leading and being trusted to lead that’s a part of a producers nature that I don’t think can be taught. 

 

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

Tia> Too many come to mind honestly, from a multiple day shoot overseas at eight different locations, to a beauty commercial with a fashion model, to an installation that we built for influencers, to digital puppets in real-time. I’ve been lucky enough to do some really amazing work, each one challenging in their own way. I think when you get pushed outside your comfort zone and come out victorious, that’s a reason to be proud. 

I’ve also been lucky enough to collaborate with very talented directors. I love being their partner while they work through pitch ideas and go over treatment layouts, all the while building the team for the job. Understanding your director’s vision and bringing their ideas to life on the production side is where I shine. 

 

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

Tia> New technology is always really challenging, and the way we are innovating across the industry is very exciting. Unreal and real time technology projects were really fascinating and such a joy to work on but also some of the most challenging as you tend to be building the plane as you fly it. 


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

Tia> My personal ambition is to be as much of a mentor as my mentor was/is to me. I want to help producers reach their full potential, I want to instil excitement into new coordinators, and help people figure out their next move or step in their careers. I had people that believed in me and took the time to teach me. I hope to do the same for others, there is a world of difference you can make in a great working environment, and I hope to be that for my team. A safe place, a place where they can ask questions, make mistakes, and feel supported. 


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

Tia> I don’t. It’s bad, I know, but I honestly don’t ever really switch off. I think I find activities like trips with friends, or watching a movie with my husband to distract, but I find my mind constantly drifts back to work and what I might have forgotten or still need to do.  


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

Tia> You have to be naturally curious and naturally driven in order to be in this line of work. It’s not one thing that sparks it, it’s a part of your personality.  

 

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

Tia> I’d say when you were a little kid and you were outside playing, what role did you choose for yourself? Were you directing your friends and handing out roles for them (you be the mom, you are the dad), were you by yourself completely engaged in a project or book sitting contently by yourself, were you following a leader and marching along with whomever your childhood friend was that you deemed in charge? Think about that, it tells a lot about your personality and character and whether you are naturally a producer type.  

 

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

Tia> A realistic schedule, a good team, and a lot of heart.  


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

Tia> Collaboration and understanding. Clients need to be brought into the fold a bit, don’t wait until the 11th hour to share something when there isn’t time to fix it or address feedback. They also need to be aware of the schedule/ deadlines and how it impacts them. Open and honest communication, so you can both work towards the same goal. 

 

LBB> One specifically for EPs: Producers are naturally hands on - they have to be. How do you balance that in the more managerial role of an EP?  

Tia> Trust, if you can’t trust your producers you don’t have a leg to stand on.   

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Carbon, Tue, 26 Jul 2022 12:34:05 GMT