This week, we're shining the spotlight on Morph Production Manager, Georgina Reynolds, who shares highlights from her 9-year career at Aardman.
How did you start out in the industry and what roles have you had while working at Aardman?
During the second year of my degree at UWE, I was lucky enough to get five weeks work experience at Aardman on Shaun the Sheep series two. I loved it and got to work within all the departments, experiencing everything a production has to offer. I loved it so much that I went back over the summer to help out and learn even more. I kept in contact with the crew during my final year at university and, once I graduated, continually sent in my CV and reminded them I was available for work. Aardman were in the middle of making Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and were looking for a continuity assistant. I got invited to come in for an interview and was beyond excited. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Continuity assistants need to be quiet you see, and I never stop talking. I was devastated, thinking I’d blown my chance. But then got a call from the Production Manager later that day offering me the position of Runner on the film. I said yes, instantly handing in my notice at Pizza Hut where I had been working full time, and have never looked back.
I’ve now been at the company for almost ten years and have risen through the production team ranks. My journey has gone as follows: Runner, Production Assistant, 3rd Assistant Director, 2nd Assistant Director and I am currently working as the Production Manager on the Epic Adventures of Morph.
To date, what has been your biggest professional achievement?
It doesn’t seem that big or exciting compared to some answers that have been given in other Aardman Spotlights. But for me, I couldn’t be prouder than when we are in the middle of shooting a feature film – I’m usually run off my feet, there are over 30 units that are shooting and I can confidently tell you exactly what is happening in each one and when. That is when I’m at my best.
Name three people who inspire you and why?
Daisy May Cooper – I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!! Not only did she create and star in (along with her brother Charlie) This Country which has me in stitches every time I watch it, but she is a powerhouse of a woman. She tells it like it is, champions the underdog and up and coming talent within our industry and she is just herself - No celebrity nonsense. Her Instagram is a revelation. If you don’t follow her already then what have you been doing with your time?!?!
Elle Woods – I know she is a fictional character but I remember being thirteen and going to see Legally Blonde at the cinema and that movie changing my life. I walked out feeling like a whole new teenage woman. She shows you that it doesn’t matter what you look like or what people think of you. If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time and even now, when I’ve had a hard day at work and I feel rubbish and like I’ve lost my sparkle, I go home and put that movie on. It instantly makes me feel amazing again and like I can achieve anything.
Richard Curtis – I adore everything Richard Curtis creates. From Blackadder to Notting Hill to About Time and everything in between. Everything about his work is so warm, and homely and British. It’s how I wish my life could be. He’s always been an inspiration to me and I would absolutely love to work on something he was creating.
Tell us what a typical day is like for you…
I usually get into work, check my shooting schedule for the day and then host the morning meeting for the crew. This is where I run through what is happening on each unit and what I’m expecting from the day. Then it’s a case of dealing with whatever the day throws my way. As production manager, one of my main responsibilities is making sure the crew and animators are all in a position to work as efficiently and as smoothly as possible - this involves being in charge of the shooting schedule and making sure that all of the units are working and flowing in an efficient way. Allowing us to complete the project on time.
It’s all about being adaptive and dealing with any issues that arise – be that with how long set ups are going to take, or if props/puppets aren’t quite ready and I need to come up with another plan. So when I’m not on the studio floor or putting daily call sheets together, I’m usually looking at the schedule and rearranging things.
What’s brilliant about this industry is that no two days are ever the same. It never feels repetitive and you are constantly being challenged and made to push yourself. I have an amazing team here on Morph. The shoot has a real ‘all for one and one for all’ feel to it and it’s a pleasure to get to work so collaboratively with everyone.
How has your role changed since lockdown and what challenges have you faced whilst working at home?
Being honest, the start of lockdown was an absolute treat for me. I got furloughed as I cannot do my role at home - I need a studio and a crew. I had six weeks off and it was bliss not having to worry missing things at work, as everyone on my shoot was in the same boat. So for the first time in nine years, I relaxed. I read books, did some creative writing and binge watched Downton Abbey.
The big changes came when I had to return to work and I was heavily involved with everything. As well as collaborating on a new production document about working practices and all the changes we, as a production, were going to put in place to remain safe in the workplace, we also had to adapt our current working space. To make it safe for the crew's return, a lot of work needed completing. We had to strike everything within our old studio space, clean everything and then rebuild all of our units – All of this had to allow enough space for us all to safely socially distance within all areas of the studios. It was a lot of work to do in a short space of time but the crew I had helping me were absolutely brilliant.
Now we are all back to work and it all feels like a new normal. The shoot still has the warm and fun feel it had before only now we just need to stand two meters apart and not touch anything that we don’t need to.
What do you like most about working at Aardman?
It’s definitely the people. Most of the time for me it feels like I am hanging out with my friends every day and we are making a film or TV series at the same time. Having all worked together for years now, to me we feel like a big adoptive family. We laugh, we cry and some days we drive each other around the bend but it’s all because we care so passionately about what we do.
Working in this industry isn’t always easy and having a group of close friends on the crew means everything to me. We are fierce friends both inside of work and out, and I know we will always be there to support each other when we need it.
What’s your all-time favourite project that you have been involved with and why?
It has to be the first Shaun the Sheep Movie. I really cut my teeth on that one career wise. Grew in confidence and like the song in the movie says "everyday feels like summer with you" – to me, it felt like an endless summer. I loved every second of that job and cried in the cinema at the overwhelming sense of pride I felt when watching it for the first time.
What advice would you give to your younger self about getting into the industry?
Toughen up – try not to take everything too personally.
Keep smiling – a smile and positive personality goes a long way, especially when you are in the dark depths of trying to finish a project on time.
Stay true to yourself – don’t feel you need to change yourself to fit it. People will like you for you.
Enjoy it – some jobs are brilliant, some jobs aren’t. But it’s fun. People love what we do – remember that. I’d rather be doing this career than any other job out there, that’s for sure.
Who is your favourite Aardman character and why?
I’d love to say something really retro like the Chewits dinosaur but it’s going to have to be Shaun the Sheep. Without him I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve worked with him on five series, two movies and not only has he helped me develop my career but he’s been in the background of lots of major life events for me.
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