What does being a production manager involve?

Barbara Masullo is an extremely experienced production manager. She offers the organisation and stability within the production of film and television to keep everything afloat.

“I like to describe my job role as the centre of information, it’s the hub of the wheel, all information comes through the hub and gets delegated out, it supports the wheel and gets it over the line”

This week, we catch up with Barbara to find out more about life as a production manager, how to progress and the perks of the job…

What inspired you to get into the film industry?

What inspired me to get into the industry was watching films and TV in the 80s. It was the birth of MTV and video cameras at home. The audience was allowed to make films at home and the TV shows were showing behind the scenes of your favourite TV programme, it caught my interest. From that point on I was focused on reaching that goal, I had my whole studies ahead of me and had to make the right choices.

How did your career start out?

My career started with a small stroke of luck. I came to London and researched ‘how to get a foot in the door in TV and film’. I applied for non-paid running jobs on small indie films and I applied for work experience to all companies that had a scheme. Eventually, I got my 1-week work experience in CBBC at the BBC, not only was it the BBC but it was at the iconic Television Centre. I recall the excitement of walking through the building being lead to what turned out to be my home for the next 4 years. After my 1-week work experience ended I was offered a job as a runner and I officially left the BBC 11 years later.

Was there a particular client/job/film that was the catalyst for your career?

Once I knew I wanted to work in the studio and be part of the action, I had a Production Manager who got me into Assistant Floor Managing, I enjoyed this very much and gained various experience and I was happy to stick to this career. I was in my 1st year of AFMing/floor managing/stage managing when my ex-boss put me forward for a job on a CBBC drama as a 2nd AD.

I was very happy to do this too, I got to go on location and it was a step in the direction I thought I was heading. This is where I met another Production Manager who was impressed with my organisational skills. Fast forward 2 years, she called me and asked if I wanted to Production Co-ordinate on a live BBC3 programme. I had no idea what that job was or what it did, she explained it to me and then hired me knowing the risks.

That was 2005, I never went back to my old role, I took the new path that leads me to where I am now.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest projects?

I’m about to start a new project that will take me on a Pilgrimage through Italy

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the film industry?

Film and television are similar and different, however, if I was to give advice, I would stress that the industry puts you under a lot of pressure, be prepared to work hard and work long hours. However, stay focused and stay professional.

What is it that you love about your job? (if you love it, of course!)

People who work in TV have a love-hate relationship with their job. There are peaks and troughs and sometimes you want to throw in the towel. However, every so often we stand back and remember that not everyone gets a chance to hold a BAFTA, stand on stage at the Dominion Theatre or watch Ed Sheeran rehearse a show and you and the crew are the only audience.

Do you have any tips you can give specifically to your role?

One main element of my job is to troubleshoot, however you’re also expected to do and know everything; why there is traffic on the road, why is the flight delayed, how do you use the phone and generally have an answer for everything. Best tip is to try and laugh as often as you can!

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your career?

My biggest challenge is the pressure to make sure everyone stays safe.

If you could tell yourself one thing about your career to your younger self what would it be?

Yes, this one is an easy one to answer, get a thicker skin. You get a lot of knockbacks and sometimes are a victim of being treated unfairly. If I knew how ruthless it was going to be, I would have been able to navigate my way a lot smoother.

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