Cinematography and Television Studies
Thanks to networking within the film industry and gaining valuable work experience while at university, Natasha landed her dream job as a film producer on graduating. Studying at Leeds taught Natasha to push the boundaries and believe in herself; qualities which are just as relevant in her current role.
What is your profession and who do you work for?
I am a film Producer and I work for Mezzo Films (Mezzo Content Agency) in Leeds Headingley.
Describe your role.
I produce TV commercials, promotional films, corporate films, Music videos, short films and well all sorts really.
As a Producer you basically oversee each project from conception to completion and may also be involved in the marketing and distribution processes. Producers are involved in every stage of the television programme, film or video, in the studio and on location. A producer or executive producer is required to report directly to the client.
In theory, the producer deals with all the practical and political aspects of keeping a project running smoothly, so that the director and the rest of the team can concentrate on the creative angles. However, as Mezzo is such a small company we get a fantastic opportunity to get creative too.
How did you get to be in your current role after leaving the University of Leeds?
During my 3rd year I got involved with Screen Yorkshire who came and gave a lecture at Uni. They put me in contact with Kathryn Penny, a Producer at Mezzo. She had just been accepted onto the Digital Caught short scheme with Screen Yorkshire and needed a production assistant. I had an interview and work at Mezzo for 3 months prior to the shoot and then during the shoot. This gave me the contacts I needed in the industry.
On graduating, I contacted Mezzo for a reference. Luckily Kathryn needed a hand for a few weeks as her marketing manager was on his honeymoon. It was classic right time right place! I worked at Mezzo on a rolling contract for 3 months as a Development Coordinator in New Business and Marketing. On James’ return I managed to convince them to keep me on. Six months later an opportunity in Production came about for an Assistant Producer. I ensured I clearly expressed an interest in the role and I was offered it. That was just over a year and a half ago. I have now been offered the role of Producer which has basically been my goal since leaving Uni.
What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?
Whilst at Uni I got involved with Screen Yorkshire. They sent me in the right direction and gave my contact details to Kathryn; I was assistant Producer on her short film Moth. I then applied for the Screen Yorkshire funding scheme myself and was awarded £2,000 to produce a short film. These two films developed my skills and contacts much more than I could have hoped for. This was during my final year and it was a push on top my workload, but no pain no gain!
What skills and attributes did you gain from your course?
Loads! As a producer, having to actually produce two films on my course was so valuable. It taught me to push myself passed an adrenaline point I didn’t know I had. It taught me a lot about myself as a person and that you get nowhere fast by standing still. You have to push yourself. I found a strength and determination in myself that has led me to produce some amazing but seemingly impossible films. It gives you an imagination and a trouble shooting sense to all things you do.
What skills and attributes did you gain from your co-curricular activities?
Networking skills through making contacts in the industry. Therefore, getting a job after uni, I also learnt to ask questions if I was unsure about anything. That initiative and self belief are the most important things you can have. To succeed you have to say ‘yes’ but not be afraid to question why. Just be enthusiastic and you can’t go wrong.
What advice would you have for students studying today?
Take every opportunity given to you. I would not be where I am if Kath and Mezzo hadn’t believed in me and given me a chance. So, I totally believe in giving people a chance. I offer work experience to students all the time and not many snap it up, which is crazy because I got here by pestering Kath and being here when she needed me. It is amazing how many students work for me once and I never hear from them again. I might not reply to every email but update me and send me your films…send me cool things you have seen. Make yourself necessary. Life is not a 9 – 5 job…never leave at 5, stay until you are noticed!