We spoke with award-winning producer Andrew Oldbury about his experiences in the film and TV industry, his current projects and advice he has for anyone getting their start in production.
What attracted you to film/tv and namely, producing features/shorts?
I grew up in a small community in the North-West of England. Film and television provided me with a means to escape the confines of my own world into one where I could go on adventures with my favourite heroes, see new cultures and be part of the story when the hero inevitably saved the day. When my parents told me that people did it that for a living, my mind was made up and I’ve never looked back since!
What has your journey been like so far since graduating?
I had quite an unusual route into the industry. I’d written to a lot of companies whilst I was still studying asking to do work experience but couldn’t get any responses. One day whilst at university I saw a call out for volunteers to help at the local short film festival so applied to help. I met a lot of fantastic people there and the festival programmer, Espen Jensen, took me under his wing and encouraged me to keep going no matter what.
Since then I’ve gone on to work on student television channels, film festivals and publicity before joining the BBC to work on Holby City. After getting my foot in the door I worked on several shows including Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Shameless before doing a Master’s degree in Producing at the National Film & Television School.
Would you recommend a Masters to others who feel strongly about working in the film and TV industry?
As a producer, what attracts you to a particular project?
A strong story. Without one you don’t have a film or television show. People will always graviate towards the best ideas.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it and why this topic was a source of inspiration?
WAR was inspired by Nilesh, the writer-director’s experiences growing up on an inner-city council estate. Most media portrayals of that background are negative and show stereotypes rather than real people. We wanted to confront that and say that people should pursue their dreams, regardless of where they were born.
How long did the project take to complete, from pre-production to mastering?
What was the budget for the project? How were you able to secure funding and work within this budget?
We were lucky to be chosen as one of Ideastap’s “Ideas Fund Shorts” scheme so we received £4,000 towards the film. It meant that we had just enough to make the film happen, but not so much that it was a smooth ride. One of the hardest things about producing is keeping in budget. We had to be incredibly meticulous about how each detail was planned to make sure we didn’t accidentally waste any funding.
Knowing what you know now, what are the top tips you’d give yourself if you were just starting out in the film/media industry?
I think the main thing is just keep going. Everyone gets rejected or turned down whether it’s for funding or jobs. The other big lesson I’ve learnt is that it’s ok to make mistakes. Everyone wants everything to be perfect all the time, but we really learn through any mistakes we make and how we overcome them.
Any advice for (aspiring) producers?
I’d say be nice to everyone. You never know when they may be able to help you!
Any websites or resources you use that might help?
What’s next for you?
My latest films WAR, Faithful and Bad Reception are currently touring film festivals across the world. Now that they’ve been made I’m starting to work on my next collaboration with Rory Alexander Stewart who directed Faithful and about to start crowdfunding a short film called “Ta Dah” with Katie Blagden, who’s a really cool upcoming writer-director.