When I joined Electric House back in July 2018, it was known as On The Tools. I was the first female in the production department and the first Production Assistant (PA), taking the team up to 10 members. It was also my first full-time job. I’d had a lot of runner roles for TV shows but this was it…my first long term position! I’ll admit I was apprehensive at first, as I was moving away from TV and film. But, when I got a phone call two weeks into being at On The Tools, offering a 6-week contract for a TV show, turning it down was easy – I was already loving my PA role. In the two years since, the production team has grown from 10 to 26, and almost half of them are female.
There’s a lot to learn when you start as a PA; you’re involved in each part of the production process from preparing for shoots, to assisting on them, to post-production organisation. Over time, you also get involved with other areas such as script writing, camera operating and editing. When I started, the PA role was brand new, so I was developing the processes as I went, whether it was creating a props inventory, developing our risk assessment or making email templates to send to actors.
As we grew, I trained the new PAs and organised weekly PA meetings to run through any problems/developments and make sure everyone was happy. The new PAs unofficially named me Head of the Production Assistants. I remember the first time I heard this. With a fair amount of Producers and Videographers around, a PA said, “Ask Liz what she wants doing.” I looked up and asked, “Me?” and the reply was…”You’re the Head of the Production Assistants!” I was surprised and half laughed, but we cracked on and the name stuck.
The great thing about Electric House is that you’re always encouraged to step out of your comfort zone and expand your skills. From the beginning, even in my interview, it was made clear that as a PA I’d train to become a videographer. “Videographer?” you may be thinking, “I thought this article was about going from PA to AP?” Well, it is, but less than a year ago, I still had the videographer route in mind. Within about 8 months of being a PA, I was fully focused on developing my videography skills, but then, a year ago, I swapped teams. We expanded, and with the new team came a new Producer and Videographer. I knew the company, knew the branded video process and had the experience to help get the team started.
Within a month of being in the new team, I knew that becoming a Producer was now the route for me. It’s funny to think that in one of my first ever monthly reviews when I was actually told I’d make a good Producer, I laughed it off in my head, thinking, “No way, I’m going to be a videographer!” And now being a Producer is all I want! A massive strength of mine is organisation — you need that to be a PA, and as a producer, you undeniably need it.
My role has evolved from being asked to carry out tasks to overseeing projects, delegating and organising workload and calendars and taking control of directing shoots and edits. One of my main responsibilities is overseeing our weekly live show. Each week, the script, prizes, clips and graphics need planning, creating and approval. I’ll spend a day preparing for the month ahead, but details can only be signed off the week before the live. So, an hour after cheering the end of the live show, I’m finalising the first draft of the script for the next one! It’s a constant stream of work, but that’s how we like it.
From being the first PA and the first female in Production to being the first Assistant Producer…it’s an experience I’m loving and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
– Liz Kemp