“Producers must be more resourceful and adaptable”
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Ruth Treacy • Producer, Tailored Films
The Irish producer, selected as one of EFP's 2021 Producers on the Move, talked about her career and producing work
We chatted with Ruth Treacy, co-founder, producer and director at Dublin-based Tailored Films. Treacy was selected as one of the participants in the 2021 edition of European Film Promotion's Producers on the Move initiative and spoke about her career and about how the job of a producer has changed during the healthcare crisis.
Cineuropa: What pushed you to enter this industry?
Ruth Treacy: I've been making my own little videos since I was 12, so I used to involve my friends in making these shorts of my own. I had a camera at home and I always wanted to make films. I really liked having people around when I was smaller, so I suppose that came through as a producer as well. When I went to film school [Dublin's IADT], I did a bit of everything – it was a very practical course – but then I specialised in sound design. I graduated thinking I was going to be a sound designer and I did that for a short period before starting my work with my colleague Julianne [Forde, Tailored Films' co-founder and managing director], when we set up a company together. We started making a lot of digital projects. I used to direct them and do sound, while she was filming and editing them. We were a two-people team and then it slowly grew into something bigger and bigger.
You said that you started your career as a sound designer. That's a rather rare background for a producer. How did it affect your producing work?
It's true. I always have huge respect towards sound designers and I think that sound design is often overlooked. They don't have a huge voice in the room when it comes to deciding what should be in the film. I think my personality didn't particularly suit being a sound designer because I was very forthright and pushy in some ways. Even though I was less suited for sound design, I absolutely loved it! I think it has massively helped me as a producer because even on our feature now in post-production, I'm heavily involved in the sound design process. The director finds that really helpful. Obviously, we assume that directors have all-embracing skills, but the reality is that they have stronger skill sets in some areas than others. So it's really great to bring my own sound design training into the film and I'm meticulous with my comments. My colleague Julianne is specialised in cinematography and does a lot of VFX work, so we say that I'm the “ear” and she's the “eye” of our projects.
What is the most challenging aspect of a producer's job? Which is the most rewarding?
The most challenging part is when financing completely takes over the process. We had experiences in the past when we were close to production but the financing stage was still going on and completely taking over our day-to-day tasks. It's really hard when that happens. Obviously, money is critical. Sometimes, it can really go on right until the start of the shooting and then you feel you haven’t been as fully involved as you'd like. There's no way to know in advance if that's going to happen. I guess the rewarding part is when all comes together at the end and you sit at a festival or in a cinema, with the audience, and see everyone's work on screen. Another aspect that is really rewarding is when you find a creative collaborator with whom you can go forward. When you know that it is a very good creative relationship, you can start to build on that.
How do you think the coronavirus crisis is changing the producer’s job?
We produced some features during the lockdown last year. Initially, I was very nervous. In truth, it has been a very positive experience. The fact that we did so much additional planning that we probably wouldn't have done normally, made us insanely prepared. The crew were very motivated and everyone felt we were on the same page. Overall, producers must be more resourceful and adaptable. The key is “if you prepare enough, you'll be okay.” [..] Moreover, producers now need to communicate really effectively – we have so many Zoom meetings and sometimes it can be hard for things to move at a pace we'd like.
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