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Uprising: How Rugby and Musicals Helped Wil Male Become a Producer


UNIT’s junior producer was determined to be a sound engineer, but he made an ‘unexpected but deliberate choice’ that led to production, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Uprising: How Rugby and Musicals Helped Wil Male Become a Producer

During his childhood, Wil Male had an affinity for the theatre, a passion for singing and a love of the West End. His love of musical theatre led him to believe that after his undergraduate degree, he would wind up as a sound engineer but, as it turned out, his skills and personality meant production was a natural choice.

As a child, Wil realised he could use the performative arts to support his passion for singing and come out of his shell. Being shy meant he could immerse himself in the entirely different theatrical world, where he felt comfortable. “Growing up, I was extremely introverted until I discovered music. Shortly after being exposed to this, I began to come out of my shell and over the years, I have become one of the most extroverted people I know!”

Wil reflects on his childhood and how it was impacted by his love of all things West End. “As a child, I was very interested in music and theatre, my dream was always to be either an actor or in the West End. I used to spend a lot of time doing amateur musical theatre shows when not at school, and partook in any sort of music/drama performances at school.” But it wasn’t just music that Wil found a connection with, he also realised he had a passion for sports too. “I was always a huge fan of musical theatre and rugby. Both hobbies were very team-focused so I loved the idea of working with others to achieve amazing things.”

After finishing school, it was time for Wil to choose a subject to study and he stayed true to his passion, but it was life skills that were the most valuable lesson for him. “I went to university in Newcastle and studied Music. I think I took more away from the experience of university life, rather than the actual course. It gave me an insight into managing adult life, budgeting, independence, and even just learning to manage myself. I found the experience extremely useful, but it did take some time to get used to/adapt accordingly.”

Wil finished his degree and began searching for roles in the industry which he believed would support his journey into music production. “I started at UNIT as a runner fresh out of uni with the intention of becoming a sound engineer. I was given so much support and told that I would be given every opportunity to pursue this route; however, a few people did mention that they thought my skills/personality were a great fit for production.” From there, he made the decision to listen to the advice of those around him and change his path from sound engineer to junior producer. “I would say that it was an unexpected but deliberate choice!”

When it comes to his preferred working style, Wil strongly believes that having good team morale helps get the job done. He credits his sociable hobbies as part of the reason why he is where he is now. “I am outgoing and happy-go-lucky as well. I like to believe that I always exude the energy that makes people feel comfortable around me.” Reflecting on his role, Wil says, the first job that he produced on his own was a music video for Burna Boy. He worked with our head of colour, Denny Cooper, to grade the music promo. “I have mixed feelings about the job as I found it very stressful,” he says. “This was mostly due to the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, but we got through it and I think we smashed it!” The experience, though stressful, helped him along the way. “I learnt a lot on that job and I look back at it now, wondering what I was even worried about. I’m sure it is the same for everyone with their first job.”

Continually keeping up to date with trends and news is how Wil keeps on the ball with industry developments. Pre-lockdown, Wil also used all the resources on hand at UNIT’s offices to support his overview of the industry and the intricacies of his specific role. “UNIT has recently had a lot of work done to the office over lockdown that opened up the ground floor of the office. Before this happened, it was just the reception area on the ground floor, so I used to spend quite a lot of downtime teaching myself how to use CETA, reading up on how to create a half-decent budget and even certain ways to interact with clients.”

Having grown as a result of the work he put in early in his career, Wil has learnt that the graft is worth it. “Always give it your all, especially early on. I have always been a hard worker so this wasn’t difficult for me, but I definitely realised when I first started, that if people see you putting the effort in, then the rewards will come.”

The lockdown period for Wil, like many of us, wasn’t the easiest experience when it came to creative productivity. “I currently live in Brixton with my partner. I must admit that lockdown has been a bit of a roller coaster, I struggle working from home as I love being around others! Once things started to lift and we were able to get back into the office, things got a great deal better.” 

Now a junior producer, Wil explains what made him gravitate to the role which he didn’t expect to have. “I love being able to oversee the entire project. Looking back, I think that if I had just pursued the audio route, I would’ve often wondered about how it’s looking in other departments etc.” Through his role, Wil is also involved with clients, new teams and constantly changing environments, which he relishes. “I really do love the social aspect of it as well, I love the clients, meeting new people, and building relationships. I just love working with so many talented people. I feel like all of the artists I have the honour of working with, blow my mind with their skills and craft.”

While WIl chooses to focus on the optimistic side of things, there are aspects of the industry that he has found tricky to overcome. “I mostly struggle with the fact that I’m not completely knowledgeable/confident in the basics, so I do find myself second guessing some of the things that I do. I think this costs me time and also doesn’t help boost my confidence.” He also shares the struggle of balancing client expectations with his own creative ability and flair. Compromise is always key, but showcasing the team behind the production is Wil’s focus. “I aspire to create incredible work, I feel like my job is to achieve what the client wants, but also to showcase how amazing the team of artists we have been. I’m so proud of them for every project we complete. ”

Wil’s pride for the team he works with is what inspires him daily. “I admire everyone in my production team. We all work together to better each other and I certainly believe that if it weren’t for them I would not have been able to manage/learn as well as I have.” He also mentions other industry inspirations: “Most notable would be Amanda Luckwell, and Dale Heron - they’re both extraordinary women that have always inspired me to go above and beyond. Dale has taught me so much about producing, and Amanda has always been one of my biggest supporters.”

Wil didn’t go down the musical theatre or sound engineering routes, but his passion for them will always hold true. “My true passion is singing. I was trained in musical theatre from a young age, then went on to study classical, pop, and jazz whilst at university.” He frequently uses his musical ability to play and perform but he says, “I still do record covers and I occasionally post them on my Instagram.” As previously mentioned, Wil is also a rugby supporter. “I went on to play rugby for about 15 years, even partook in the Bingham cup, which is the World Cup for the IGR (international gay rugby) in 2018, after this, I decided to hang up my boots, but I still enjoy watching.”

What keeps Wil motivated is his determination to be good at what he does and inspire others after him. “I want to be confident, without being arrogant. I’d like to be adept, without being overbearing. And I’d love to be a mentor, without being a dictator. So I think that this motivates me to constantly better myself, but also remember where I’ve come from, and how many people helped me along the way.” 

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Genres: People

UNIT Studios, Tue, 14 Dec 2021 14:45:00 GMT