Report on Commercials Production: Production and Post-Production - Production profiles/From capable Nina to crazy Jez and oh-so-slightly paranoid John, everyone will recognise these characters from the production world. Jane Austin profiles an imaginary c

By JANE AUSTIN,, Friday, 20 June 1997 12:00AM

Managing Directors Nina and Tim (34-55)

Managing Directors Nina and Tim (34-55)

There seems to be an equal split between male and female production

company managing directors, but the position attracts an eclectic

collection of personalities and management techniques. Generally

speaking, mds are perceived as described here - although there are a few

eccentrics who sport either velvet suits or scruffy casuals.

Production company mds tend to live in Notting Hill, Holland Park or

Fulham and drive Jeeps, Range Rovers or sporty German numbers. They say

no to drugs, although they used to be quite partial to dalliances with

uncle Charles. They drink very good wine but not to excess. Nina and Tim

are regulars at the Ivy and like to eat at 192, the House, Cobden and

Groucho’s where they eat rocket and scallop salads with balsamic

vinaigrettes. They are concerned with maintaining a healthy balance

between health and spiritual needs - and managing overheads.

Tim and Nina have both been married before, to people in the industry,

and each have two children from the marriages at private schools. Now

Tim lives with someone with a creative job such as a fine artist, while

Nina is finding it more difficult to find a stable partner because a lot

of men are terrified of her ’in charge’ persona.

Tim wears T-shirts, chinos and a leather jacket, while Nina wears very

smart but sexy suits from Jill Sander, Prada and Gucci. Their favourite

film is Il Postino and their music tastes border on the


They know everything there is to know about the business, and while they

really respect senior management, they hate to admit that they really

don’t understand the junior creatives. They wish they had discovered

Daniel Barber, Jonathan Glazer and Frank Budgen.

Junior Producer Sarah (26-32)

Sarah leaps into her dark grey Golf GTi outside her flat in Ledbury

Road, W11. She’s been living, on and off, with Carlo, a camera operator,

for a couple of years, but would prefer the man in her life to be either

a creative at Rainey Kelly or a director. He has to be in the business

because she loves absolutely everything about the ad industry. Children

are definitely not on the agenda at the moment; she’ll worry about that

in a few years.

She loves agency creatives; Andy and Richard, Chas and Jim, and Tom and

Walt are her particular favourites. Only it was a bit embarrassing when

she met Tom and Walt in Groucho’s and Walt admitted, after she had

introduced him to her closest friends as Wally to denote extra

closeness, that he didn’t remember her.

She’s 31 and has been producing for six years, although she says she’s

29. She reckons she can get away with it for a few more years but really

should give up the Marlboros. She’s out about four nights a week,

working late on budgets or looking over an operator’s shoulder in a

post-production suite. After work, she likes to pop into the House or

the Union to see some mates and down a couple of Sea Breezes. She loves

Quo Vadis, Coast and Nobu - and Andrew Edmunds for a cheap romantic

night out with her other half. Lots of candlelight there - hardly anyone

would notice Carlo is under five foot four and has three chins.

Sarah wears a lot of black and most of her clothes are from Prada,

Joseph and Browns, with stuff from Whistles and Karen Millen for

holidays. But she might have to start going to Jigsaw soon as First

Direct has become a bit snooty about her overdraft. She loves her

holidays, as she is always stressed and is, consequently, always brown.

She loves Mauritius and the Seychelles and that driving holiday in the

US she went on a few years ago in Thelma and Louise mode.

In a more daring moment, she contemplated going trekking in Madagascar

on her own - but thought again.

She’s growing out the Rachel cut and is not sure whether to go for the

fully-flicked Farah Fawcett effect or the sleek Gwyneth Paltrow


Runner Jez (18-25)

’If that ginger wanker asks me for another cup of bloody tea he’ll be

wearing it,’ thought Jez (aka Jeremiah) about the company’s managing

director, as he lugged the hotshot director’s new David Wainwright sofa

up the stairs to his warehouse flat. Now he only has to buy a bollocking

miniature lemon tree for the workhorse director’s wife and take it to

her at home in Sevenoaks.

He doesn’t mind this bit. The drive, in his clapped-out 2CV, will help

him chill out. He can smoke a bit of weed and listen to Carole King’s

Tapestry. Jez thinks the hotshot director is quite cool really, but also

reckons that he has sold out. When did Mr Bigstuff last make a film that

made people really think?

Jez is more interested in road protesting and environmental issues than

the politics of modern youth - and he looks cool in his Converse

All-Star flip flops, khaki army fatigues and tight T-shirt.

Jez has been working in the business for two weeks now and is already

seriously pissed off. First, no-one has read his

novel/poetry/script/treatment yet. Second, he did not write a

dissertation analysing popular culture to spend all day parking cars

belonging to materialistic tossers.

There are perks to the job, though. The workhorse director will let Jez

take his camcorder to Glastonbury and he’s been on a location run. It’s

the only way Jez is able to get away anywhere, that bloody shared house

in Goldbourne Road costs a fortune - his private income only just covers

it. Most of his spare cash goes on his ever-expanding vinyl


But somehow, Jez always seems to manage to score with the grooviest

model/stylist/on the shoot - much to the hotshot director’s chagrin.

Hotshot Director Tosh (28-35)

Tosh stands outside his two-bedroom flat in Powis Terrace and hails a

cab to take him to his Soho office. He can drive, but can’t remember

where he parked his car or, indeed, what type of car it is. He’s been

away a lot. The runner can look for it. He likes to think that he’s not

materialistic, but shelling out pounds 103.27 a week to the NCP in

Poland Street is ridiculous.

He switches on his phone and adjusts his Agnes B suit over his Diesel

T-shirt - got a meeting today. He rubs his eyes, he’s so tired and

hasn’t really dealt with his jet lag yet. Still, work is great, although

those creative guys in the agency don’t understand - if only they could

take on board what he wants to do with the script. Why do they just want

it to look like everything else he’s ever done?

He’s feeling pretty good since he met some cool creatives in the Cobden

and they suggested he gave up alcohol, coffee and fags and drink crushed

beetle tea instead. Mind you, he does have the odd line when he’s at an

awards do or working late with his editor, and a fag whenever he has

really good sex. It’s vital he keeps his wits about him because work is

the most important thing in his life. Why can’t anyone else


He could do with another holiday, but what if a great job came up and

Trev or Howard got it? He had a good time the last time he went


Where was it? The receptionist booked it - he must ask her. Such a good

girl, he’s almost glad that he got a bit wired and slept with her at


Claudia, the stylist he met on the shoot just before he went away, was

also good company. She went on the holiday with him and probably will

again. If only he didn’t have a girlfriend - why do girls always want to

go on beach holidays? He’d rather stay at the Paramount in New York for

a few days and try out the organic oysters at that new place in

Greenwich Village.

Workhorse Director John (37-60)

John has been pissed off for quite some time and is finding it

increasingly hard to hide his frustration. He tries hard to be

everyone’s mate and be fair, but he has a short fuse and is concerned

people don’t phone him as much as they used to. He prefers Cannes to

D&AD now - it’s a great place to meet Latvian producers. That reminds

him, he must put in a few calls on behalf of that creative duo from

Lintas Dubrovnik.

John is philosophical and realises that times change and that new talent

pops up, but he can’t help feeling that he’s been passed over.

He’s still working on some feature ideas, and he believes he could have

made a better job of Jurassic Park.

He sometimes gets the cameraman to film clouds so that he can do a bit

of a Gerard - they like that at Ogilvy and Mather. Another favourite is

to experiment by turning the camera on its side and rubbing a bit of

Vaseline on the lens to do a Michel. But, as far as John’s concerned,

the greatest talents of all time are Roger Woodburn and Hugh Hudson. He

loves agency people. He used to do tons of work for Colletts and BMP in

the 80s, and won a silver at BTAA in 1983 and a gong in 1985 - he’s been

known as an award-winning director ever since. He has picked up a few

trophies at Cannes, Epica, Eurobest and Clio and, consequently, is very

big in the Lowlands.

He is married for the second time to Jo, a former PA, and they have two

children. He has four kids (Robert, Jessica, Simon and Carly) in total

if you take into account the first marriage.

He is as reliable as the Mercedes he drives and always puts his cross by

the local Conservative candidate’s name.

He is still fond of a pint with the crew in the Dog and Duck and his

favourite restaurants are the White Tower and the Groucho. John is

concerned he doesn’t make as much money as he used to, but he’ll be OK

as he made more money from selling his house in Soho than in his whole


He has mastered the look of the middle-aged trendy - leather blouson

jacket, ironed jeans and a grandad shirt. He listens to opera, jazz,

blues, the Beatles, the Stones, Sinatra and Chris Rea. He wonders why

women don’t look like Gina Lollo-brigida any more.

Receptionist Tasha (22)

Tasha is described by her male colleagues as an ’uber babe’ and,

basically, was hired because the managing director of the company was

going through his mid-life crisis. She can’t understand why other people

seem to delight in treating her as if she is dead from the waist up. All

she wants is to be taken seriously and become a PA.

She used to be happy as someone’s secretary waiting for the day when

James - her first and only boyfriend, who does something in financial

services - would pop the question. But working in the industry has made

her realise there is more to life than James, shopping in Next and

eating out in Clapham. She has now ditched James and goes out with a

junior editor, although she dreams of the hotshot director. She goes out

every night, but is so young and gorgeous you would think she was tucked

up in bed by 10pm.

She has a private income and no-one really knows where she lives. She

works in a production company because it is a great way to meet media

people. She wears fantastic clothes and goes on fantastic holidays - St

Lucia, Tuscany, Klosters. She was expelled from boarding school for

something to do with boys or cigarettes and still has a controlled party

girl tendency.

Turn up the volume, give her a couple of glasses of champers and she’ll

be first on the dance floor.

She’s great at a party, but fantastic at awards dos. Fortunately, no-one

saw her falling out of a cab with the hotshot director after the BTAA

bash - better still, no-one saw her falling into a cab with him the next


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