Odds are that sometime last week you tuned into the UK’s biggest sporting event: the Commonwealth Games. Held in Glasgow until 3 August, the event is not only a place to see the greatest athletes of the British Commonwealth compete but also a place to see some of the most talented TV production professionals in the UK work.
Jennifer Angell, who served as a broadcast venue manager at Emirates Arena for badminton and track cycling events was one of those individuals behind the scenes that made a big difference. We had a chance to discuss her role as a venue and also as a production manager earlier this summer when she was serving in a similar role for the Champions League Final in Lisbon.
What exactly does a production manager do?
In general you do whatever is needed to make the live production happen. Hiring and working with the crew is one part of it and then there are the logistics like sourcing hotels and even negotiating rates with the hotels as well as transportation. So the main thing is organizing and being a liaison with the organizing committee that is in place for the event and dealing a lot with things like credentials.
How does the process for an event begin?
It begins by putting the needs into one document that lists the timings and coordinating those timings with the production team to make sure the right people are in the right place at the right time. And then it means working very closely with the talent to make sure their needs for things like makeup are met. You really don’t get comfortable until the talent is on site and ready to go.
So how does one become a production or venue manager?
You start off working as a production assistant or as a low-level “runner” where you can start to know the production and operations people. And then you just have to start doing as many events as you can so you can put your time in and learn as much as you can. And that also means developing your own network.Also once you get a couple of events under your belt, and if you have what it takes, smart people will see you have talent and something more to offer than just being a runner. You just have to have the confidence to let them see that.
A lot of the production side can also require an understanding of technology. Is understanding the production or technical side more important?
You need to know a little bit of both; how the production works and what people are needed to make it happen. A little bit of technical knowledge helps, absolutely, but you can go to someone who knows things like the EVS and it is the technical manager who can trouble shoot.
So what are some of the professional qualities that a production manager needs?
You have to be highly organized and super motivated and also able to understand a large picture. That means knowing the network, who to contact at the network, and how to make things happen via really good managerial skills. You need to be able to manage the crew and also step back and let them get on with it by handing things off to them when the event starts. But you really just need to be able to focus because you will be pulled in so many different directions and be in demand all the time.
Interview conducted by SVG Europe