Ever wondering what life as a Production Liaison Manager at Creative England might be like? Well, now’s your chance to find out as we catch up with Jonny Shelton, who started out life here as an intern and is now supporting some of the most high-profile TV dramas and features being filmed across the country. We get him to lift the lid on office life behind the scenes, share his advice to those starting out careers in the creative industries, and tell us more about the stand-up comedy night he organises in his downtime.
Take it away, Jonny!
You started life here as an intern – what was that like and why did you snap up the chance to stay full-time?
Life as an intern was busy but everyone was so welcoming in my department and my team, which made it much easier. When the opportunity came up to stay full-time, it made total sense to me. I was able to progress really fast during my internship and I wanted that progression to continue here – and I think my team wanted that as well.
Can you describe a typical week in the life of a Production Liaison Manager for us?
Wake up, switch my laptop on and then the first thing I try and do is log all the shoots taking place that day. I do that from the call sheets that I received from our productions. Then in the north west, there are lots of advertising companies or smaller production companies that will get in touch wanting to film something at short notice so I’ll try and sort those out as quickly as I can. Then it’s a mixture of chasing people, going out to physically scout locations, or going to site meetings to meet production companies and councils.
I will spend all week providing bespoke and comprehensive support to the high-end TV dramas and features that shoot across English regions – helping location managers find places to shoot, giving suggestions, asking people for ideas, finding unit bases, speaking to councils about parking, traffic management and road closures… Basically, all of the external stuff that goes into making sure big shoots can happen in the public domain.
What do you love most about office life here?
Where I live in MediaCity, I can pretty much see the office from my window. It only takes me about six minutes to walk to work and even then, I know I have the flexibility to work from home whenever I want to – but I still love going into the office. There’s just such a good crowd, and even more so when there’re people up from the Bristol or London offices. It’s such good vibe. Everyone is super sound and it’s a really nice space to work in. There’s a great atmosphere.
How would you describe your colleagues and the company culture?
They’re all up for a laugh and they’re all good for going for a drink with, but they’ve had experience in life and they know when to take things seriously. It’s a great group of people. They know when it’s time to get stuff done but they also happen to be sound too, which always helps!
What are your top tips on staying organised in a fast-paced working environment?
Developing an instinct for anticipation makes life so much easier. If you see something that you don’t think is very efficient, don’t be afraid to do something to get around it and improve it. So yeah, I’d say planning, strategy and anticipation would probably be my main advice.
What advice would you give to somebody else looking to start their career in the creative industries?
Your heart has to be in it; you have to believe in the work you do and you have to be passionate about it. If you’re starting off your career in the creative industries, it’s also important to stand up for yourself and your ideas. Be brave. Joining communities like the Creative Industries Federation is also something I would recommend. You get a load of benefits from being part of a cohort like that. Oh, and network! I spend a good ten minutes each day on LinkedIn, just making sure I’m speaking to the right people and sharing opportunities.
You organise a stand-up night in your spare time – tell us more…
When I moved to MediaCity it was still quite new and quite sterile so there wasn’t much of a community, so I decided I wanted to try and engage a sense community myself. Originally, I wanted to start an arts festival – and I still plan to at some point – but that was quite a big place to start. I thought the best way to assess what this group of people around here want, is to experiment with something a bit smaller first and build up engagement. Everyone likes laughing and the only other comedy nights around here were ticketed events in The Lowry so I decided to put one on. I met up with a promoter who knows a lot of comedians based in the north west and between us, we make it work.
What do you love most about organising the stand-up night?
I love the sense of community it creates in the area, and how it gets people to engage with other people. I like how it gives another offer of culture because I think that’s important for people to have access to that.
Want to join Jonny’s team? See our current vacancies here.