So You Want to be a Digital Producer Part 2

In her previous post digital producer Athena Witter explained a bit about her job and what it entails. Now she talks about how she got into the business herself.

“At an early age I knew I wanted to work in TV, but never really knew as what. I considered presenting, acting, dancing, becoming an artist, but never actually took any of that or myself seriously. So I decided to go down the normal routes of study and I did a BA honours in Digital Media. At the time it was the first course of its kind and it was a bit of a risk as I really didn’t know where it would take me. The course was about all things digital and how this new way or delivering content can enhance TV programming. It covered everything from programming, design, website creation, media studies, cultural studies, and video production.

I graduated in 2001. Then ended up where the media hub generally takes you – London. Before I moved I secured a job at QVC (yep that’ll be the shopping channel) – not so glamorous except when Joan Rivers is on; selling her jewelry collection. I was responsible for monitoring their digital transmission suite. This included managing their product and buying platforms across online, red button, and telephone buying services. Before long I was managing a team of 7.

…But actually my first real media job  was whilst I was studying my A Levels. I worked as a Telephone Researcher for Radio Aire and Magic 828, in Leeds. The research included finding out about its audience radio listening habits, music, likes and dislikes. Within this role I also became one of their promotional girls and had to wear one of those crap t-shirt and caps not forgetting the unflattering shorts! During the station’s road shows I would often have to be on stage and model the roadshow prizes or get the DJ some water. Great! And a bit embarrassing at times running around after the senior team – they used to get us to  do some pretty silly stuff at times…

After my time at QVC, I worked for a large digital broadcaster whose channels were aimed at the youth and female skewed audience.  I became an assistant producer working on quizzes, games, website content and competitions. It was this role that really opened up doors for me;  it was the first time I worked with the TV programme makers to help integrate digital as part of their shows’ strategy. For example, on the Living channel’s ‘Most Haunted Live’  we encouraged viewers to send in pictures of orbs or unexplained images, while on shows like ‘Cruel Summer’ for Trouble  TV we asked our younger audience to text in challenges/stunts. This is when I really started to see what technology can do for TV programming.

Throughout my career I’ve worked across a wide range of genres, from US acquisitions, sports entertainment; The Match, game shows to reality and entertainment shows, such as Big Brother. I’m afraid I worked on Big Bother  – love it or hate it. I worked as  a producer for a production company who, at the time, made pretty much all the prime time entertainment shows we all know and love.  There I produced extra programme content for distribution on the web, mobile, podcasts, red button services and more. Managing and working with in-house design and tech teams, I would also run a live show production team which included writers, editors and producers in a news room style production. I also looked after a team of editors, writers and camera crew – this team included a total of 30. I have fond memories of those days – fun, exhausting but amazing times.

After working there for 4 years I then moved into the world of freelance and have been doing that ever since, working across arts installation projects like  Anthony Gormley’s One and Other to dance shows; ‘Got to Dance;  music shows – ‘Must Be The Music’, with Dizzee Rascal, Charlene Spider, Jamie Cullum  and even Daytime TV. Here I worked on delivering anything from 24 hour live reaction content, to managing  talent and contestants; social media spaces and live studio interactivity.

I’ve produced for many years across all genres, and have gained great business knowledge on how to commericalise, produce well and engage the audience with the right content and making it available on the right platforms for the right target audience.

My current role is now more about providing brands solutions to clients such as Coca cola, Swatch, Fifa and others. I work to curate and manage the campaign. I now create commercial strategies for international distribution.  Already I’ve been working with some very influential creative artists such as Rankin, Fred Butler, Alex Noble and music industry figures. This time it’s about being on trend, cool and creative. And that’s what I love about it.

Swatch MTV Playground –

Coming up in her next post, the challenge of getting television producers to understand the digital role, and what qualifications you need if you want to be a digital producer.

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