Creative Lives — Filmmaking is all conversation and collaboration for Just So’s production assistant, Georgia Rose
Production assistant Georgia Rose can vouch for the benefits of eavesdropping. Fresh out of uni as an English Literature graduate and thrown into the ranks at VICE as a journalist, she found her interest piqued by the goings-on at the nearby production table. A narrative-driven approach to research matched with a practical head defines her role at creative agency Just So, where the business of making films is both a conversation and a collaboration. Whether it’s unconventional athletes or musical choreographers, uncovering interesting people and telling their stories is one of Georgia’s favourite parts of the job. We turned the tables to ask about her very own journey from journalism to the film industry. Georgia tells us about the benefits of not going to film school and making the most of your network – whether that’s a new contact or your friend’s older sister’s friend’s husband...
Production Assistant, Just So Films (2015–present)
Intern, Notion Magazine (2014)
Editorial intern, VICE (2014)
BA English Literature, University of Bristol (2011–2014)
Inside Just So
How would you describe your job?
I’m the only full-time production support in the office, so my main role is assisting the four producers. I work on projects from the initial brief right through to delivery. This will mainly be creative research and logistical organisation in the pre-production stage, being there on the shoot and then assisting producers in overseeing the edit, grade and sound design.
What does a typical working day look like?
There’s no typical day in this job, which is what I really like about it. There are day-to-day admin aspects of every job and sometimes I am just inputting crew into Evernote, or drawing up risk assessments and invoices. But I could also be flat out on story or character research or scoping out shoots. At the moment we’re in pre-production for one shoot in Canada and another in Ireland, so I’m figuring out all the logistical elements of that at the moment.
I switch between tasks such as crewing up, booking kit, doing budgets, legal contracts, call sheets and risk assessments to finding the right DP, editor, locations or sound designers for a project, as well as some development and narrative research as well. It’s not that normal for a production assistant to do creative research but I do quite a lot of that here; I’ve come from a journalist background so I pushed to make that part of my job. You can always carve out your own role within a company – Just So are amazing that way – if you express interest in something they are great and responding to that. My work will, more often than not, have a creative and a practical element. For example, I’ll work on timings and scheduling, but also draw out stories and characters and find out who might be interesting to film.
Our offices are in Shoreditch and I live in Haggerston, so it takes me ten minutes to cycle to work in the morning. Our office hours are technically 9am to 6pm, but it usually goes past that to 7pm. If we’ve got a shoot coming up sometimes we’ll be working till 10 or 11pm, but that doesn’t happen very regularly. You have to be open to working outside of the hours that you’ve been set – that’s the nature of the industry.
“With journalism, it’s just you and your thoughts deciding what that story is. What I love about film is that it’s always a conversation and a collaboration.”
Where does the majority of your work take place?
Most of my work takes place at my desk and in front of my computer. But occasionally certain things will take me out of the office, whether that’s for street casting, location recces with the gaffer and DP, client meetings or being on set.
How did you land your current job?
After studying English literature at university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was a musician for a bit and thought I might want to do that or be a dancer or writer. It often changed but it was always something creative. I did a load of different internships before ending up at VICE doing journalism for three months.
I’ve always been interested in narrative and telling stories. When I was at VICE, I sat on a table that often had freelance producers working next to me and I got a view into the world of production and filmmaking. With journalism, it’s just you and your own thoughts deciding what that story is, but what I love about film is that it’s always a conversation and a collaboration. Making a film is a massive amalgamation of lots of different people’s thoughts and creative visions that come together to make something unique. After getting a taste of the filmmaking world when I was at VICE, I knew it was something I wanted to explore. My friend put me in touch with her older sister’s friend’s husband who owned a film company. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do it full-time, but I got an internship there and I’ve never really looked back.
How collaborative is your role?
It’s very collaborative. To make a film you need lots of different people and skill sets to come together. After getting a brief in you have to pull in the best team possible for that specific creative; your director, DP, production designer, editor, colourist. You’re constantly in conversation with lots of different people and helping to merge their different ideas into one seamless entity.
Georgia at work
What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
Most enjoyable is researching, travelling the world and interviewing people with so many interesting stories. The least enjoyable (which you wouldn’t get so much as a freelancer) is the admin side of things. After every shoot you have to put all the crew into the database, settle the petty cash, scan in release forms, draw up delivery notes. These are all necessary and essential to production but they definitely aren’t the aspects of the job that make your heart sing!
What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
I’ve been working on some really exciting documentaries over the past year but unfortunately most of them are still in production, so I can’t speak about them! I can say one is a short scripted film funded by Film4, another is a five-part documentary series focusing on different athletes who come from unconventional backgrounds (some amazing stories in this one!) and another was an interview series where we interviewed some inspiring women in different creative industries, from cult band singers, pioneering West End choreographers to spearheads of the ’90s DJ and dance music scene.
Clarks: Kingston All Stars
Clarks: Kingston All Stars
Clarks: Kingston All Stars
Clarks: Kingston All Stars
What skills are essential to your job?
Organisation, and an attention to detail; dropping the ball could cost you a huge whack out of your budget! An ability to multitask; you’ll need to spin many plates and be across different projects at various stages all at once. The key to becoming a producer is really listening and understanding what each person on your team wants and needs, and knowing how to juggle and make sure everyone feels like they’re having their say and being listened to. Everyone wants different things, as does the budget, so it’s just about managing that even if you can’t give everyone what they want.
Do you run any side projects alongside your job?
I’ve just produced a short dance film that went live on Nowness in July. I’m part of a network called Girls in Film and saw in their newsletter that a director called Kate Cox was looking for a producer. So I emailed her, we met up and started this amazing, collaborative relationship. We worked on some projects together, and pitched one to Nowness which they commissioned and distributed. We have a few more in the pipeline, too!
What tools do you use most for your work?
Evernote; Trello and Google Drive.
How I Got Here
What did you want to be growing up?
I used to tell people that I wanted to be a cognitive psychologist when I was a kid - definitely didn’t know what this meant but I think I just enjoyed seeing their reactions!
My mum is an actress and my Dad is a producer so I came from that world anyway. I never thought I’d follow in their footsteps and neither did they, but it ended up happening naturally.
How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
English Literature led me to journalism and journalism led me to film. English is a funny one because you can kind of do anything and everything with it. English is all about research, pulling lots of data together to make one fluid argument and also understanding the intricacies of storytelling and engaging an audience. Writing an article and making a documentary use similar skill sets.
A lot of people go to film school and come to the industry that way. I didn’t do that, but I think that sometimes gives you an advantage because you have other skill sets that people who’ve only done film all their life don’t. I worked in both music and journalism for a bit, my knowledge of both has proven useful and has give me more than if I had just gone to film school.
“Production assistant and producer roles are specific to the way your company is set up. The work you’re making defines your role even if you’ve got the same title as someone else.”
What in particular helped you the most at the start of your career?
The way I got into film was through my friend, who had a tenuous link to a film company and put me in touch. The film industry is very social and the key to getting into it is making friends and meeting as many people as you can - you never know who might end up getting you a job or putting you in touch with someone that will!
Was there a particular project you worked on that helped your development?
When I was interning at Just So we did something for Greene King where we filmed in loads of pubs across the UK with real people in different set-ups. We filmed a date, a football team, a wedding, a wake. It was the first project where I was really involved in the production and it was the moment I knew that production was what I wanted to do. It was so expansive as a project, and being across it all as an intern really made me feel like I could do it. It gave me the bug and was instrumental in giving me a leg up in my career.
"Be as enthusiastic as possible. That goes leaps and bounds above having the right things on your CV.”
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Working as a production manager for the first time while filming abroad for a shoot that involved 46 crew and 10 high profile talent. Having a crew of that scale is something I’d never done before. Most of our shoots are a fairly small set-up and that was probably one of the biggest shoots that we’ve done. It was a real challenge, but we pulled it off and it went really well.
Is your job what you thought it would be?
Initially I didn’t really know what production was. But when I moved from an intern to a production assistant, the job was what I thought it would be. That’s probably because I already had some understanding of what a production assistant at Just So did, so I was prepared for that. One thing I would say is that production roles differ depending on the company. A production assistant across five different companies would all do such different things; it’s really specific to the way your company is set up. The work you’re making defines your role even if you’ve got the same title as someone else.
Inside Just So
Inside Just So
Inside Just So
What would you like to do next?
I’d like to eventually move up to a producer and also to work exclusively in the entertainment world rather than in advertising. Having said that, branded content is getting more and more filmic in it’s nature (often adverts are now online longer-form documentaries sponsored by brands rather than product-heavy tv commercials). Further down the line I’d love to go into executive producing, film script development and then maybe commissioning. The dream job would be a big commissioning editor at HBO or Netflix or Amazon Prime. Something like that.
Could you do this job forever?
Not being a production assistant no, as I’d like to move up the ladder. But I definitely see myself always working in film.
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to become a producer?
Be as enthusiastic as possible. That goes leaps and bounds above having the right things on your CV – I think that’s what helped get me the job at Just So. Make your own work. The fact that you’ve gone out and tried to produce your own films looks really impressive and tells people that you’re self-motivated, even if the outcome isn’t that great. No one expects you to be making masterpieces when you’re just starting out. Don’t be shy, and make as many friends as you can.
This article is part of a studio feature on Just So.