Lucy is Creative Producer and Owner of Greenroom Films.
On becoming a Creative Producer… I left school at seventeen because I hated it. I hated the construct, the authority and the being talked down to by teachers. So I left, but had enough Highers to go to college. My plan was to have a year out and work in bars, but I ended up with a college prospectus in my hand. I was really into photography and film, and they had courses in photography and TV production. I phoned up and found out the photography course was full but that there was still a space on the TV Production course. So I went in for an interview and got on to the course. I studied TV Production and was doing running jobs to meet people in the industry. Then, I did a running job for Greenroom, went to the ‘shoot and the next day the production manager at the time called my tutor to say they really liked me and asked if I’d come in and interview as they were looking for a production assistant. So, the next day I went in, had the interview, and was offered the job. That was in 2009, and since then I’ve been grafting, learning my craft, developing as a person as well as a production professional. Ten years later, I now own the Production Company and get to make amazing work with amazing people. A bit of a dream, really.
On becoming Owner of Greenroom Films… When I first started in the industry I was given a great piece of advice that was whatever you do make yourself indispensable; be so ingrained in what you do and how well you do it that they can’t imagine life without you. Make yourself the best you can be. That really stuck with me; so I’ve always tried to force myself to learn everything, to be better and own what I do. Every time I got to a point where I felt like I was hitting a brick wall I’d give myself a new challenge. I never wanted to learning or to feel like my career was stagnant. Before I knew it, I’d worked my way up and sit here with a decade of experience in production. Naturally, through that time, I’ve experienced a lot; good and bad. Those experiences have shaped who I am today, how I run the company, our ethos, how we produce and how we project ourselves to the world. I believe all these things are fundamental to the success of Greenroom Films thus far.
On balancing the creative and corporate worlds… I’m a very collaborative producer; I don’t just bring a director on board and let them run with it. I’m with them the whole way, because I have to constantly balance what the director wants to do with what the agency and client wants. What the director wants is to make an incredible piece of film and what the client wants is to sell more beans. It’s this constant juggle between a piece of art, a piece of engaging content and, ultimately, successful advertising that will sell what it’s supposed to, because that’s what we’re there to do. I’m this mediator between creative and corporate.
There are two circles: the corporate and the creative, and it’s really hard to be in the middle of both of them, but that’s where I am. I’ve got to straddle these, which is a really hard space to be in, to keep both parties happy without compromising either one or the work. It’s about knowing when to compromise and when not to, knowing when to really fight for something and knowing when to walk away. It’s a constant juggling act, but our main objective is to create beautiful work.
On creativity… Being creative doesn’t just mean being artistic. I think creativity happens in every corner of life and it doesn’t always take the form of something tangible, something ‘artistic’. A single Mum, with a full time job on minimum wage who manages to feed, cloth and house three kids is creative. I suppose it depends how you define creativity, how we as a society define creativity; but I truly think it’s everywhere. We associate creativity with art forms; film, photography, architecture and words. Creativity or being creative means you’re able to think about things differently, in a way that pushes the boundaries or parameters. That can apply to many things and many people, it’s just not glorified or glamorised in the same way.
On creative influences… I think I’ve always been interested in storytelling, but didn’t figure out my form till I was older. My Grampa, John Grant, was an author (amongst other things) who used to write stories called ‘Little Nose’. They were all about this little Neanderthal boy and his sidekick ‘Two-Eyes’, a Woolly Mammoth with one red eye and one green eye. His books were about their adventures and he presented them on Jackanory. He was this amazing storyteller and I grew up with him nurturing me with stories and showing me how fun they could be; I loved it, so I’m sure he had a lot of influence.
I love narrative and the power of narrative. I’ve always written short stories, short scripts and poems. I think that actually I sort of accidentally fell into film; but it is where I was always supposed to be. When I was little I remember so desperately wanting to be an actress. I always knew I wanted to be involved in that world, I just didn’t know in what way. I used to love watching the behind the scenes extras parts on DVDs because I loved learning how they made the films. I really have an appreciation for craft, whether it’s craft I’m particularly interested in or not, when something is beautifully crafted it’s inspiring. Whether that’s a poem or a piece of art, a photograph, a film or a movie; when someone has created something with passion, collaborated with other talented people and put their heart and soul into something, it’s beautiful.
On chemistry… So much of my job as a producer is about bringing the right people on for the right project. It can be really easy to fall into a safety net of working with the same people because you’ve worked with them before. They might be great but maybe not the best person for that project. This is true for the whole production team; the right director, DP, a sound tech who know can handle mic-ing up 10 people in three different spaces and an art director create the perfect set. Then it’s about thinking whether each of these people will work well together on a human level. So much of it is chemistry, and so much of my job is about bringing the right creative people together to work collaboratively.
Another part of my job is seeing talent in people, spotting when they are on the cusp of something and just need the right opportunity. I really do try to nurture people and align them with the right scripts.
On Edinburgh… Edinburgh is just home to me, it always has been and always will be regardless of where I end up. I live in Portobello as I love being by the sea, yet I’m only fifteen minutes from the city centre. I feel like Edinburgh is a smaller, slightly less hipster London. It’s also versatile; I love there’s historic and fairy-tale old town complete with narrow cobbled roads, but I also love places like Leith and the Portobello. They’re still a little rough round the edges but in a really charming, authentic way. It’s artistic, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s beautiful.
Some advice… When you do find something that you love or that you’re good at, take the time to really craft that skill. Be tenacious, be hungry, be fierce, be kind, be committed, be polite, be humble. You don’t just come out of Uni with a film degree and instantly become an amazing filmmaker. You have to experience life, you have to put in the hours, make soya lattes for assholes and work sixteen-hour days on an outdoor shoot in winter.
What I’ve built and who I am is a direct result of me working really damn hard, and not without sacrifice. Most of my mates finished school and Uni and went off to spend a year travelling the world or partying. I went straight from school to college and had a job with Greenroom before I graduated. While my mates were skydiving in Australia I was ordering staples and post it notes for the office. Time and experience has allowed me to be confident, creative and capable. Getting to a place where you truly trust yourself, your talent and your judgement is a really empowering feeling. There’s no ‘right’ path and there’s no magic formula; but if you love what you do, work hard at what you do and make a promise to never become complacent, you’ll not go too far wrong.
“The juice is worth the squeeze”