This week production company Poppet turns 6 months old. Here, Poppet executive producer Nat Taylor shares what she’s learnt from the first 6 months at the helm…
Making special work means making work special. The best creative work isn’t solely in the script or having a big name attached (be it the Client, Agency, Creatives, or even Director). It comes when there’s a positive, genuinely collaborative environment for the project to grow in. If doubt and mistrust creep into the process, it’s like death by 1,000 cuts and the awesome idea that we began with dies a little every day. Conversely, with the right team and attitude, even a simple concept can become something far better and bigger than the sum of its parts by the enthusiasm and positivity that surrounds it. And that’s what Poppet does.
You can have it both ways. Combining the feminine energy of a nurturing, thoughtful, and empathetic culture, with the hard-edged, logistically savvy, kind but firm production brain. We are friendly and fun, but we are not soft. No one gets to behave poorly, no matter who you are. We are extremely protective of our team and our culture. It has been inspiring to know we have the power to walk away from any situation that doesn’t serve us or our community. We work with good people and make good work. We accept nothing less. Being our authentic selves has been rewarding in how we work, as well as what we create.
Positivity is magnetic. As Poppet grows in this market, we have built incredible partnerships, with clients, crews, and our followers cheering from the sidelines. It was humbling (if not mildly terrifying) when we put a note up on LinkedIn saying we were looking for a full-time production assistant, within two days we had over 130 applicants and had to take the post down! We’re not sure how it’s happened but there is a buzz about Poppet out in the world, that it’s a great place to work, and we could not be prouder that people want to join the team.
Grow the community. Everyone benefits when our industry is stronger. So, whether it’s through our commitment to The Aunties or MADC or the weekly ‘how can we help’ mentoring sessions we run for people seeking advice, we look for ways to help improve the industry. We positively steer towards employing women returning to work and creating opportunities for growth in diverse communities. We know key crew don’t get the career pathways that other industries do. Having worked in big global agencies (like BBDO, Dentsu, Leo Burnett) we see how the corporate world creates time to focus on career progression for its staff. Freelancers don’t necessarily benefit in the same way. We work on building people, whoever they are. It could be a seamstress who had dreams of a more creative role, becoming a costume designer and working with us to develop their skills to become one of the hottest stylists in Melbourne. Or giving a young male make-up artist their first breaks on film work, bringing creative diversity to the fore. Watching some of those that we have had a hand in developing branch out to being established and employed by other bigger production houses, it gives us a huge amount of pride.
Sweat the small stuff. No job is too big or too small to care about the impact in the details. Whenever we can, we stop and think ‘what more could we do?’. It might be donating all shoot homewares and wardrobe to a refugee charity, ensuring we educate our crew in how to pay an appropriate compliment to child-talent. We are laser-focused on enforcing simple ‘hygiene’ measures, like exclusively using reusable water bottles and coffee cups on set and ensuring we properly power down all of our energy intensive equipment when not in use. Each tiny action has an effect, and we want to know every day we do all we can to aim to be a little better.
Celebrate the success. It would be insane to suggest the last 6 months have been anything but a lot of hard work. Launching any business is daunting at any time. The truth is, it’s a lot. There is sacrifice, and hard work and late nights and never turning your brain off, and missing school pick ups and parties, and family and friends and trying to remember what it’s like to have a single moment when you are not thinking about work. But I love it. The work we do, the space we are creating and the sticker my son put on my laptop the other day that says ‘Mum is my Hero’ – it makes it all worthwhile. That’s just me. For the team I think it’s important we make time for mental health breaks. A late start after a big shoot, time to take the dog for a walk or get your hair done. We give so much of ourselves in Production it’s important to find time to still be you. I’m here to celebrate our success. I am so proud. From tiny acorns, great things can grow. I believe we are building the right foundations for something truly special. When I get a moment, a nap sounds bloody lovely too.