Creative Lives Podcast — Producer Brian Kaczynski on Netflix, freelance paranoia, and being a good ‘fixer’
How do you make a series about gangsters in 1920s Birmingham, or a drama about Dickensian London? This week on the podcast, we talk to line producer and BAFTA member Brian Kaczynski, whose job it is to turn scripts into series. Working specifically in television, some of Brian’s recent credits have included the critically acclaimed crime drama Peaky Blinders. A recent panellist at a BAFTA Scotland event held at the University of Edinburgh, he spoke to us about how on-demand services are affecting the industry; reflects on the challenges he’s encountered; and explains why being a good ‘fixer’ is central to the role.
Interview by Marianne Hanoun
Freelance Line Producer, currently working on BBC One’s The Cry for Synchronicity Films
Co-Producer, Peaky Blinders (2017)
Line Producer, Dickensian (2016)
Line Producer, Peaky Blinders (2013)
Line Producer, Case Histories (2011)
Line Producer, Taggart (2003–2008)
Location Manager, My Name is Joe (1998)
Diploma in Drama, Queen Margaret, Edinburgh (1983–1987)
BA History, Open University and University of Dundee (2011)
As a drama graduate, Brian started out by working as a stage manager at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, before eventually finding his feet as a freelance location and production manager for television.
Likening the role of a line producer to a ‘fixer’, an ability to problem-solve, think laterally and apply research resourcefully are crucial in bringing together a production. Assembling the right team, and keeping an eye on budget and strategy, it's an all-encompassing role that often sees him travelling between countries – a freedom afforded by the increasingly freelance nature of the job.
Reflecting on his time in industry, Brian has seen the effect which on-demand television has had on filmmaking, as the industry reacts accordingly to audiences' growing hunger for content: “It’s a creative industry but it’s also a manufacturing industry – you’re making a product that people consume.”
“As an industry, we tend to make out that it’s life and death. But it never really is.”
Brian is also quick to warn against the temptation to overwork as a freelancer, “You can’t work around the clock forever,” he tells us. For that reason, a film production is crucially a collaborative endeavour: “You’re never an island, and if you are, you’ll fail.”
We caught up with him as he discusses freelance paranoia, the challenges of working on Peaky Blinders, and imparts some hard-won advice for emerging creatives looking to work in film.