The Production People is Ireland’s agency for production and broadcasting personnel. Headed up by former RTÉ production staff Louise Nolan and Deirdre Ryan, the Dublin-based agency caters for all aspects of production needs, from directing, producing, to finding locations and driving VIP’s.
Louise Nolan spent five minutes of her busy working day to tell IFTN exactly what it is the Production People does, how she and her business partner Deirdre Ryan make it happen, and why those looking for a start in the industry should put their faith in the hands of the Production People.
What does the Production People agency do on a day-to-day basis?
Production People is really a one-stop shop for all broadcasting personnel requirements in Ireland and outside of Ireland if we were asked for it. We have over 2,000 candidates registered with us and we meet as many people as is physically possible on a daily basis to find out as much about them so that we can put them forward for positions and recommend them to clients. A lot of people will go on our recommendations, clients won’t ask for CV’s they will say ‘Who do you think is the right person for the job?’ and that’s what we do best. Clients call us when they are looking for production and technical personnel for future and immediate productions.
Our key strength is filling those last minute requests when people get late commissions and the people they wanted are no longer available. We search our database and, depending on the urgency, we can find suitable people available within a very short period of time, frequently to start the following day or the next week.
How long has the agency been in business?
Deirdre Ryan and I established the company in 2004. We had a chance meeting and realised after talking that there was a gap in the market for an agency specifically for the broadcast and media interests because there wasn’t one around. We started off at my dining room table and we’re now in 11 Merrion Square. We’ve a good strong client list and an excellent candidate database and three full-time staff here.
Tell us about your backgrounds in the media/broadcast industry.
We [Louise & Deirdre] met at RTÉ. We had worked in RTÉ, but not necessarily on the same productions. I worked in a variety of broadcasting areas from current affairs to drama. I was both broadcast coordinator and assistant producer. Deirdre had started in radio and then she moved into the technical end of TV as a vision mixer at the studio.
Most of the people we’re supplying have come into the industry since we left. But we still know the clients and the people we’re supplying as well. There’s a mixture; there’s people who are very experienced and then people who are studying at the moment. But because we have the background and we’ve worked across a lot of different areas in TV we have a fairly good knowledge of the workings of the industry and that has developed the credibility and the reputation in the market.
How do you think the industry has changed since you worked in RTÉ?
I think that budgets have been cut and clients want the best value for their money. There is more multi-skilling, for instance, there’d be self-shooting AP’s now, cameramen who can also edit, so the industry has changed in that way. Technology has always changed, that’s the nature of the industry. Equipment has become more accessible to people, editing programmes, Final Cut Pro, cameras have gone down, people are using DV cameras for transmission rather than huge big beta cams as was the old way. The other area that has probably changed is the web. Clients are streaming events, and then we get corporate companies coming on who are looking for video content and how to put the video content onto their website. So that’s probably what’s changed most.
Are the people walking into the Production People’s doors multiskilled and fitting these roles?
Sometimes, and sometimes they can be too multiskilled, because they don’t know where they want to be, they don’t know where they fit either. There’s good and bad things about that.
What kind of applicants do you get at the Production People?
We get everybody. We get people from all walks of life, people who’ve never worked in the industry, who want to work in the industry. We’ve got people who are teachers and suddenly decide that they want to change the direction, we get people studying media, recent media graduates, and we get people who’ve been in the industry for years.
Is there a profession more popular than the other with applicants?
You get a lot of people who want to work in front of the camera. But not everybody can work in front of the camera, there’s not going to be enough jobs. You get a lot of people that when they’re in college directed and want to direct but you don’t go straight into those jobs. So there isn’t always an understanding of ‘You have to learn the industry to get into some areas’.
Is it your job to explain that to them?
Yeah, we give them advice and we also give them a realistic picture of the long days, hard work, the personal rewards and fun that you can get out of making programmes as well. We would be realistic with people.
What are some of the TV/broadcast roles you have supplied for?
Over the years we would have supplied all the major public broadcasters, Irish independent production companies and corporate bodies, and we would also provide services to foreign broadcasters and companies on location in Ireland. We would have supplied gallery broadcast coordinators, assistant producers, directors, researchers, production runners, drivers, location assistants.
Some of the more unusual things we’ve supplied for include a time when the red light went in a studio, and we had a person that was that red light for a day until the light was fixed! They had to stop people going into the studio and they had to be on a walkie talkie to know when they were shooting to stop people coming in.
Recently, we had a location researcher, sound recordist and an electrician working on the Aldi ad for milk, that was a UK production company that came into Ireland. IMG Media did a shoot with Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie, a three-camera shoot, and we ended up organising all kinds of things, everything from curtains and drapes to the catering. No day is ever the same in this place, all the requests are different, you never know what’s going to come through the door.
Give me an example of what you did today.
Today I am looking to fill a couple of positions, so I’m calling people, asking their availability. I’m asking about things like driving licences and full driving-licences, those kinds of things that are vital for the job all the little details. I’m setting up interviews for the client, we don’t always set up interviews but in this instance we are setting up some interviews and in between I’m also meeting people who are set up as interviews [for the Production People].
We don’t have people calling in off the street, they’re scheduled interviews of people coming in to meet us. We try to meet everybody.
The media/broadcast industry has been affected in recent years with the economic downturn. Has the current climate had a knock-on effect on your business?
There are ups and downs in every industry, this is no different. We’re still working with people, people are still making television programmes. And we’re still helping people make them and finding the right people to make them with. So we’re still here.
Why should people looking for a start in the broadcast industry go to the Production People?
Because we know the business and we know what clients want. We can give them good, realistic advice. That’s why they come to us, and we would hope to meet them at some stage in the future.
Visit the Production People at www.productionpeople.ie.