How I Became A Digital Content Producer

By April 15, 2015 Blog
How I Became A Digital Content Producer

In this fortnight’s blog post we talk to four professional digital content and multiplatform producers. Alexandra Edmondson and Emma Morris are Metro Screen graduates; and Chloe Rickard and Kate Ayrton are newly appointed Metro Screen tutors with Kate also being a graduate.

Kate Ayrton – graduate and Metro Screen tutor

 Your pathway, how did you get here?

It started with a Steenbeck in the early 90s when I was a student at NYU and working with a very ‘old school’ film company called Merchant Ivory Productions. It was like working for a really dysfunctional but brilliant family who you couldn’t help but love. I learned a lot about life and how to do great work on a shoestring budget. This was followed by a long and accidental segue into the advertising world where I got to work on a lot of big-budget projects. The work wasn’t always so great, but I could always make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, which helped in the leaner times. As the industry changed a decade or so ago, it was clear we were all going to have to change with the times and start again. The best piece of advice I was given as a student was: learn how to read and follow an instruction manual! At the time I thought my Professor was just being a lazy teacher, but he was so right… with all the constant updating that goes on around technology, your instruction manual is your best friend in your hour of need, and the best way to learn is by doing.

Why Metro Screen?
I’ve always been impressed with the courses at Metro Screen and hoped to ‘one day’ teach. Recently the stars aligned so I jumped at the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and share the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years in my new role as lead tutor for Metro Screen’s Diploma Digital Content Producing. I’m excited to be working with students who typically come from professional backgrounds already, or are looking to quickly jump into the workforce with a solid set of skills to get them going. I’m looking forward to helping out, and as the ancient saying goes (courtesy of Deborah Kerr, The King & I)…”if you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught.”

What are you doing now?

I work as a freelance digital producer for a variety of clients on the agency side. I also offer digital marketing and media production services to clients in the travel industry with whom I have strong relationships and interests as the co-founder of a travel website (www.wandermelon.com), and the owner of a small local tourism business (www.airstreamadventures.com.au).

What excites you about the future of digital content and multiplatform producing?

When I first started adapting to new digital media technology I did so out of necessity rather than desire, but as I fell deeper down the rabbit hole, I realised there was this whole other exciting universe of potential opening up that I hadn’t even imagined. And that is what I find so exciting about this particular field of study—the constantly evolving digital media landscape and innovative new technologies and methodologies that are emerging every day. They’re the perfect breeding ground for pioneering new ideas and ways of seeing and sharing information and stories. We’re still living in the information age’s Garden of Eden. We’ve bitten the apple (no pun intended!). In fact, we’ve stuffed ourselves on the apple and now we need to take a step back and work out how to sufficiently feed ourselves information without overloading the digital digestive system. Food for thought, anyway!

Alexandra Edmondson – graduate

I came from a very traditional background in script development and had been working in film and television. When I applied to do the Metro Screen Multiplatform Producing course I knew very little about the digital space, and, to be honest, I was a bit sceptical about it. I felt like I needed to know more about the multiplatform space because I knew it was here to stay, but I really believed that the digital world was ‘gimmicky’. My perception completely changed over the course of the year I studied at Metro. Our teacher Sohail Dahdal really opened my eyes to the possibilities the online world holds for storytellers. Now I still write and direct for traditional platforms, but I also own a digital storytelling company called Wolfgarden, dedicated to innovative storytelling (www.wolfgardenfilms.com).

What are you doing now?

I have recently completed two short films called The Passenger and Frontier, which are doing the festival rounds, with The Passenger gaining entry into the St Kilda Film Festival. The Passenger is the first glimpse into a story world I’m developing for a bigger multiplatform project called Tivoli. I have also been co-developing a feature film called Brooklyn Treehouse, which just won the Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest, and which we are hoping to shoot in the near future. My company Wolfgarden recently made a documentary for outdoor clothing and equipment company Mountain Designs, to celebrate their 40-year anniversary and tell their brand story. The documentary explores the early years of the company in the 70s, and its founder Rick White who was a bit of a maverick—a rockclimber and a really great larger-than – life character.

Your pathway, how did you get here?

I just keep plugging away at various projects and eventually some of them get there! Same with Wolfgarden, it’s very much a case of just putting one foot in front of the other.
What excites you about the future of digital content and multiplatform producing?

It’s a very exciting space for storytellers and it’s full of opportunities for innovative storytelling that really engages the audience and involves them in the narrative building process.

Chloe Rickard – Metro Screen Tutor

I have been a long-term friend of Metro Screen, having used its facilities and equipment in my early career. Metro Screen was always happy to assist with discounted hire fees on short films and some of the early Jungleboys corporate work. I also support the Metro Screen/Screen Australia internship program. It is an excellent initiative because the best learning early-career practitioners can get is on-the-job with industry professionals.

What are you doing now?

I am currently producing for Jungleboys, who I have worked with on The MoodysA Moody ChristmasThe Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting and more. We are currently in development on a new TV comedy, a few features, and a branded content project in 2015/2016. I recently produced Soul Mates, a TV and multiplatform comedy based on the Bondi Hipsters created by the Van Vuuren Bros and Nick Boshier. The Van Vuuren Bros and I are recipients of the 2015 Enterprise Growth funding. With this investment, we plan to develop the Soul Mates spin offs, Bondi Hipsters The Movie and Kiwi Assassins The Musical, as well as a handful of other multiplatform projects.

Your pathway, how did you get here?

I started my career producing television commercials with Jungleboys in 2006 when the company was made up of only three people. My job grew with Jungleboys and I am now the head producer of the film and television arm of the company. Outside of Jungleboys, I met one half of the Van Vuuren Bros when studying a Bachelor of Communications (Media Arts Production)/Bachelor of Law at UTS. We have had an ongoing relationship since. I first produced their MTV telemovie SICK! in 2011, and since then we have made Soul Mates and are in development with six other projects under Enterprise Growth. I am also currently completing a Masters of Screen Arts and Business at AFTRS.

What excites you about the future of digital content and multiplatform producing?

A multiplatform approach to content encourages producers to consider their projects more broadly, not just as films or TV programs. What if their characters existed in a game? A book? An app? Can part of their storyline spin off to a different format? A multiplatform approach gives producers both story world and commercial scope to explore other areas of creative exploitation that are not limited to traditional mediums. Exciting times!

Emma Morris – graduate

My year at Metro Screen opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of the digital and multiplatform world. I had dreams of working in that space, but at that stage in my career, I had no idea how to go about it. I had always looked overseas for further education or work opportunities so I was over the moon when Metro Screen offered me a scholarship to complete the Multiplatform Producer course. Most significantly, the course gave me access to industry experts and contacts to explore work opportunities. I was lucky to get a position at Firelight Productions, working as their Multiplatform Producer on documentaries Storm Surfers NZ and Rocket Compulsion. Learning about what’s possible in class and then directly implementing my ideas into a project was really exciting.

What are you doing now?

I’m currently working in Digital Strategy in the Innovation Department at the ABC. I’ve been working in platform and content strategy over the past year, and I’m really enjoying working in a more creative and strategic role. In 2014, I won SPAA’s Ones To Watch program, which included a mentorship with Jennifer Wilson from the Project Factory. We attended the SPAA festival and had the chance to pitch ideas and meet inspiring producers from all over Australia. The last multiplatform project I worked on with Hoodlum, Secrets & Lies, won Best Interactive Production of the year at SPAA in 2014. In 2015, the US remake went to air along with the web series and selected multiplatform elements. At the end of this year, director Darius Devas and I will be officially launching our Screen Australia-funded project, This City Speaks (thiscityspeaks.com), which explores how creatives shape and inspire cities.


Your pathway, how did you get here?

Through hard work, perseverance and being surrounded by a bunch of really inspiring individuals. I would highly recommend to anyone, at any stage of their career, to seek out a mentor. The ability to confide in someone on a personal and professional level has given me a great deal of insight and support over the past few years. Forming good working relationships with people you are inspired by and trust does wonders for your work and sense of self.

What excites you about the future of digital content and multiplatform producing?

That anything is possible. Working in digital strategy at the ABC I’m surrounded by teams looking at the future of Australian content and audiences, five to twenty years down the track. Trying to predict how we’re going to interact with content and future technology, like driver-less cars and wearables, is a pretty exciting environment to be in.

 

To learn more about Digital Content Producing and Multiplatform Storytelling, Metro Screen presents:

Diploma in Digital Content Producing

Multiplatform Storytelling – short course

Screen 2030: Making My Content Pay – online series

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