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Producing Tomorrow’s Producers: Tara Holmes on Always Being Prepared

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Assembly’s VP of commercial services on understanding the process, taking accountability and the importance of reading the trades

Producing Tomorrow’s Producers: Tara Holmes on Always Being Prepared

Tara Holmes is vice president of commercial services at post production start-up Assembly, a New York-based post-studio that opened in 2021 servicing the advertising, feature film and episodic market. 

During her seasoned career, Tara has collaborated on award-winning work for brands such as Michelob Ultra, Calvin Klein and Snickers and with renowned creative agencies such as BBDO and FCB Chicago. 

Tara has a passion for mentorship and facilitating the growth of both artists and producers in the creative industries, often nurturing talent from entry to executive level. With a passion for DE&I, Tara’s mission is to ensure opportunity is given to excellent, diverse creative talent across the board. 


LBB> What advice would you give to any aspiring producers or content creators hoping to make the jump into production?

Tara> Be prepared at all times. Opportunities to show what you have come when you least expect it and if you have taken every opportunity to learn you will shine when that chance comes. Also don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, we have all been there in that learning process (I still am), and true mentors want to grow the next generation and will jump at the chance to educate. 


LBB> What skills or emerging areas would you advise aspiring producers to learn about and educate themselves about?

Tara> It's always great as a producer to understand the process and be as technical as you can but it isn’t what defines a great producer. I always focus on the producers who take the time to know what is going on in the industry. What agency is working with what brand, what director and/or DP just worked on that impressive spot that is shining on social or in the trades. READ THE TRADES!!!!

 

LBB> What was the biggest lesson you learned when you were starting out in production - and why has that stayed with you?

Tara> Take accountability and come up with solutions. It’s ok to make mistakes, we all do, no one is perfect BUT when you do, own it. Go to the person who that mistake is affecting and take accountability, whether they be a client, artist or boss, AND have a solution, hell have three possible solutions and then ask them if one of those solutions is their preference or if they would prefer you proceed in another direction. 

 

LBB> When it comes to broadening access to production and improving diversity and inclusion what are your team doing to address this?

Tara> This is an important topic for me, from many different angles, following diverse existing talent, growing up and coming talent and supporting companies who work to broaden diversity by providing them with our services to spotlight their talent. There are so many ways we can ensure that the future of this industry includes all voices and perspectives. 

 

LBB> And why is it an important issue for the production community to address?

Tara> We are in a creative industry and the core definition of creativity to me is being able to be exposed to EVERY viewpoint. How boring would it be if we only sought art from one set of eyes. 


LBB> There are young people getting into production who maybe don’t see the line between professional production and the creator economy, and that may well also be the shape of things to come. What are your thoughts about that? Is there a tension between more formalised production and the ‘creator economy’ or do the two feed into each other?

Tara> Hmmm… this question really made me think! I do think those who have been trained as professional artists on profession tools feel the pain of the ‘creator economy’ that said I think there will always be a world for formalised production and I think that the production world has done a really great job in staying relevant at the same time as welcoming and showcasing these creators. So I guess my answer is yes, I do think the two feed each other, and I hope it stays that way. 


LBB> If you compare your role to the role of the heads of TV/heads of production/ Exec Producers when you first joined the industry, what do you think are the most striking or interesting changes (and what surprising things have stayed the same?)

Tara> It's interesting because from the world I came up in which is commercial post production in NYC, most of the EPs of the edit shops and post shops that I was working at and/or with were female and a lot of them are either Managing directors now or actual business owners and I am so proud of that. And a lot of the young producers I came up the ranks with are EPing some of the top shops out there, so I am in the company of some of the most amazing and talented women. Because of that, I was lucky not to feel gender inequality as much as some whilst rising through my career. However, I do still think there is a lot of progress to be made, specifically within ensuring that equality of all kinds carries through to senior management roles - there’s still a prominent gap here. I want to be an active part in showing people that diversity exists within management boards and inspire other women to get there. Having diverse voices on a leadership team is as crucial to our industries future as having diverse voices on the creative team!  

 

LBB> When it comes to educating producers how does your agency like to approach this? (I know we’re always hearing about how much easier it is to educate or train oneself on tech etc, but what areas do you think producers can benefit from more directed or structured training?)

Tara> I think this is difficult. I feel for producers they have to do it to learn it.  I think the best way to train a producer is to lead by example. I have a handful of amazingly talented producers out there that I was beyond proud to mentor (they know who they are) and they are so incredibly good at what they do. It is one of the things I am the most proud of in my career. Watching them succeed truly is my success! 


LBB> It seems that there’s an emphasis on speed and volume when it comes to content - but to where is the space for up and coming producers to learn about (and learn to appreciate) craft?

Tara> Oh that is the one thing we have the MOST access to today. Go to Instagram, go to Vemo! Google directors, EPs, editors, colourists, VFX artists. The creativity and talent out there is awe inspiring; you just have to look for it. And as a producer, reach out to those people that inspire you, tell them that you are a fan of their work! It means something to them and you never know, you could be working with them OR for them tomorrow! 

 

LBB> On the other side of the equation, what’s the key to retaining expertise and helping people who have been working in production for decades to develop new skills?

Tara> Opportunity! I always like giving someone who might have always worked on one platform or in one department the opportunity to learn or experience something new, but they have to want it and embrace those moments of opportunity.


LBB> Clearly there is so much change, but what are the personality traits and skills that will always be in demand from producers?

Tara> Staying calm under pressure, and being a trusted partner for your clients and artists. At the end of the day that is what a producer is, a partner. Even people who aren’t in our industry right? That married couple, those siblings, best friends. We have seen it right? One comes up with a crazy idea (the artist) and the other one figures out how to make it happen down to the last detail (the producer).  It drives my husband crazy but I produce the crap out of our family ;)

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Assembly, Tue, 19 Apr 2022 09:22:12 GMT