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People, especially women, have a tendency to hire more on looks and personality than they
do on experience and ability. It’s true. Every ad agency is filled with young, good-looking
women who may or may not be very good at what they do. It’s to create a certain
perception. A lot of production event companies are like that. Once they know me and
see the work I do, they come back for seconds.”
What Carol provides, as a producer, is not based on the superficiality of looks or coolness
and extends beyond competency. Carol comments on her perceived value, “My reputation
with crew people is that Carol maintains a calm set, a safe set, and a sane set. Nobody
gets to raise their voice. Nobody is put in physical harm. You wouldn’t believe what
people ask crews to do at times. They’re fed healthy meals on time. You don’t just get a
slab of pizza thrown at you. You respect them and their expertise. The best lesson I ever
learned about producing was from the executive producer on the Mercede’s job. A good
producer hires the best people for the job delegates and gets out of their way.” Carol
creates an optimal relational performance space where people can operate collaboratively,
efficiently, and creatively with minimal interference (Bava, 2005).
Understanding Technology Informs Her Decisions
Our conversation is an essential read for understanding the role of a good producer and
even more so for a female producer. She attributes her longevity as a freelance producer to
having an understanding of technology and this helps to inform her budget decisions. Carol
affirms, “A lot of female producers are notoriously ignorant of the technical side and this
infuriates directors and crews. They are good at the management side and client
handholding. Because they don’t have a firm grasp of the technical, it makes it impossible
to schedule, budget accurately or crew appropriately. Because I have a technical
background a MFA in film which is pretty unusual for a producer in my business. That
really helps me on those accounts. So not having a technical background is the downside
for a lot of female producers.”
As a media educator and former freelancer, Carol is right on target when it comes to
addressing that her livelihood is linked to being technically savvy. It is inescapable and not
even an add-on bonus at this point in time. If you’re not technically competent, you are left
behind. Mark Deuze, editor of Managing Media Work, sums up our immersion in media as
“living a life not with but rather in media” (Deuze, 2011). The freelancer is expected to be
fluent with new technologies and there is no on-the-job training. Gina Neff writes in The
Lure of Risk, . . .this means that employees are expected, in the words of one
programmer, to ‘hit the ground running’ with continually updated skills, including new
programming language and familiarity with new technologies” (Neff, p. 42).
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