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Meet Your Makers: Trevor King



EP at Greenpoint Pictures on why his biggest takeaway from working in production is how much he loves people

Meet Your Makers: Trevor King

Executive Producer Trevor King brings diverse experience and deep relationships to his role at Greenpoint. A producer at Spontaneous Combustion for six years, King then transitioned into sales working at BlueRock. He went on to Click3x for a tenure of eight years before working with Ridley Scott Films Limited as their East Coast sales rep. He joined Greenpoint in early 2019.

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? 

Trevor> I grew up in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, CA, so the entertainment industry was in the air. Eventually, I moved to NYC, to follow a boy. First, I worked in a restaurant, and then I started working as a model. This experience on set deepened my interest in production, behind the camera instead of in front of it. So I started working as a PA on commercials, 100s of them. I segued into post-production in 1997 working at a design animation company, SPON, and then into sales at their sister editing company, Blue Rock. 

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?

Trevor> Working in production teaches you that if you’re on time, you’re late! You also learn that there is really no such thing as "that can’t be done". I mean look what was accomplished in 2020. The shift, the agility in our industry. I had some pretty terrific experiences early on in production that taught me to respect time, my peers, and the collaborative process. The lessons influenced me personally as well. I learned to show up on time and tell it like it is. If I had to call it though, the biggest takeaway from working in production is that I learned how much I love people.

LBB> How did you learn to be a producer?

Trevor> Mentors are everything in my life.  I’m a firm believer that we all need a team of  advisors/mentors. I call it having your own board of directors.  As mentors I’ve had Ethel Rubinstein at Blue Rock and Spon, Ray Foote and Roe Bressan are mentors and now I frequently rely on my EP Partner, Tatiana Rudzinski, at Greenpoint to keep me learning, especially in the production realm.  Producing for me turned very early into sales, which is the creative matchmaking side of our business.  Without sales, you have nothing.  

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?

Trevor> In the mid ’90s, I was working as PA in NYC driving the art department cube truck on the set of a big agency commercial, and I overslept; such a rookie mistake! I was woken up from a dead sleep by a phone call from my coordinator. I threw on my clothes, jumped in a cab and got to the secure lot on 43rd/11th Ave quicker than I’d ever moved before in my life. I gunned the gas and set out the NJ location. Yes, I was late and had to drive under a river. Now remember, there were no cell phones back then. I finally got to set, only to realize I had taken a cube truck from another shoot. Long story longer, someone else drove the correct cube out, and I was working in the production office the rest of that week. Years later I was head of sales for that director’s production company, I never told him I was THAT PA. It was years later, and he probably never connected the dots. If he did, he never let on. I aged years that morning, but I wised up. I learned the power of production forgiveness (they must have really liked me), and I bought two alarm clocks.  

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?

Trevor>  If you are a producer you are a producer. You can make stuff happen, whether you’re producing a massive event or a short social film. (Or a table at a hard-to-get-into restaurant!)

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

Trevor> For me, I love the moment a job awards and production takes switches into high gear. It’s the culmination of so many pieces of the creative puzzle coming together. The agency relationship, connecting the right talent to the creative, supporting my brilliant producing partners, Tatiana, Karen, and Lexy, watching the treatment take form, all the while, minding the budget and successfully showing the brand that we are THE TEAM for the project. Nothing beats that feeling.

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

Trevor> Production has changed. The expectations are higher. The timelines are shorter. The budgets are smaller. But the opportunities are bigger. 

I promise I am not being Pollyanna. But if you look back, production/post has been driving change since the first image was ever recorded. It’s not easy to pull an elephant out of a hat, and that’s how it can feel when the ask stays the same while the budget is slashed. If 2020 has taught me anything, it showed me that production is agile and resourceful beyond measure. Leave it to our industry to do the impossible. 

LBB> And what has stayed the same?

Trevor> Relationships and trust remain the same. There are colleagues you know and new people to meet. It’s simple, but it’s not easy in a world full of internet noise. Everyone has so much on their plate; so many Zooms; keeping track of what day it is! Trust is the constant that gets me through a tough day. I’d like to think that industry colleagues know I am going to tell it straight and get the job done, exquisitely, and remain accountable if anything falls short of that. Relationships are the easiest and the best part of my job. It plays into my strength of loving people.

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?

Trevor> The main thing to know about being an effective producer, is that you have to figure it out, however it works for you. For me, being good at relationships is something that is innate, and not for everyone. Yes, you can learn to smile and dial (as we say), but really owning professional relationships is hard. It takes time, care, and attention.   I spent 5 years working at RSA Films where I learned from some greats.  At RSA I learned the art of throwing a great dinner party, ones where we celebrated our wrapped jobs and got a chance to meet new friends.  At the Cannes Festival, this skill came in very handy. I learned early on that Cannes is the great equalizer, young sales reps had a chance to mingle with EP who would, under normal circumstances, not return their calls, but used, right, these relationships opened doors and created lifelong friendships.  .  

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

Trevor> This isn't one specific project, but I'm really proud of this period when I was helping grow a company and the point of view and expertise we brought to the market just worked....I worked in sales at Click3x, a design animation and VFX studio. When I joined, there were 19 full-time employees and when I left, there were 70. This was definitely a group effort, built during a time of extreme volatility in the market ’06-’14, but the stars aligned and we followed the adage, build it and they will come.   Across my career I have been proud to find projects and help produce for brands including; Lincoln, ESPN, Grey Goose, Nike, and Google.  

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

Trevor> There’s an age-old question about any category of advertising production, which is: can you do the job if you haven’t done it before? It’s a Catch22 that you need the spot on the reel to get the spot on your reel, and I think this belief is particularly strong with car work, which certainly has some executional needs that are very specific. I’m proud of the fact that at Greenpoint, we figured out that if you start small you can use those projects as evidence that you’re ready to handle the larger ones.  Our directors have recently shot a few car projects, so we have now caught the wave and intend to keep riding. Clients are always looking for a fresh perspective, and we’re known for helping directors grow, rolling up our sleeves, and finding creative solutions that place the bulk of the budget on screen.  One of our recent new spots was for Lincoln Automotive, and it came to a director who had never shot a car commercial, let alone a commercial that fell into the :60 variety.  

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?

Trevor> This isn't insane, just expensive.  We were shooting in Jersey City. I was a newly minted EP, and we had a micro-budget project  with a major agency that wanted to shoot celebrity talent in the apartment of a couple who were acting as our real-people talent. The couple told us they had permission from their landlord to have the shoot, (in their tiny apartment) so we went in, got halfway through the day and the old man landlord (who also happened to own a nearby bar) was calm, but when his daughter showed up after lunch, she was less calm. Needless to say, I went to the bank, extracted a small pile of cash, and managed to milk our negotiation until the talent was driving away and we were packing up the trucks. Everyone was happy, but I’m guessing the lease was not renewed for the couple.   

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

Trevor> Helping directors build their careers is one of my favorite things to do. It takes a ton of patience, but it’s a true artform. I like seeing the thing that makes a director unique and then helping other people see it too. The right opportunities do that.

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

Trevor> To relax, I like being around my friends, having a good phone catch-up and just general hanging out.  I also spend a lot of time helping tend to our rooftop veggie garden.  

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

Trevor> If we take this back to, I love the win, that’s what fuels my drive.  I’m not a competitive person but I love making the production wheels move, and you get that when you are awarded a project. That win means I’ve succeeded in putting a creative person together with someone who needs creative execution, or, we just closed a job. 

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

Trevor> Speaking from my passion, producing sales, it’s not for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of pressure put on sales people, personally and from company owners. So, my first piece of advice, try not to take the pressure personally, it’s your job to perform and introduce your talent to people who are looking for talent. You need to be creative about how you’re going to get out there in the work world. My other advice is to get into this business only if you’re into being social and know your way around a conversation. And another thing, don’t think that a college education is the path in, it wasn’t for me, I don’t have that degree, but i did a lot of college. Sometimes the path in is through the side door, which can lead to success.  

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

Trevor> A great director, buttoned-up creative, and a solid production crew. The rest will fall in line, especially with that great producer.  Some of the brands I’m proud to have successfully help produce include; BMW, Stella, AT&T, ESPN, Grey Goose, Nike, and Google.  

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

Trevor> Communication is everything. If the client feels like they’re being communicated with, and the agency or brand is properly partnering with you, this is the recipe for success.  

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

Trevor> Speaking from my vantage point as an EP for sales, one of my jobs is to communicate with our reps in 3 territories.  Thankfully, we work with the best reps in the country and I speak their language, so managing them is mostly about me making myself as available as I possibly can, and being a useful resource for them. If we’re communicating regularly and honestly, then we’re all going to have success.  

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Greenpoint Pictures, Tue, 20 Jul 2021 11:18:00 GMT