When you work in production, you have to be prepared to do a lot of explaining about what you do. It’s an unconventional job—not many production people work 9-5 in an office. Whenever I talk to people about my job, I find myself explaining the same things every time; not many people really understand how the industry works and what it means to work in production.
First things first: I work for myself. I’m a freelancer, like most people in creative-type careers. I’ll work with MLP when they need me, and then I’ll work for someone else, maybe even the next day. I might be on a job for a day or a few months, but when it comes down to it I’m pretty much always on the lookout for my next job. As with many careers, networking is key; the more people who know you, the more likely it is that you’ll have someone call you up to offer you a job.
Moreover, I don’t work for NBC or HBO or Discovery or whatever network a show is on, or for Warner Brothers or Paramount or Universal or whoever’s distributing a movie. There are people who work for those networks and distributors, of course, but the people who actually make the production are freelancers. I actually work for a production company, who either markets and distributes its content itself, like MLP, or sells its content to a network or a distribution company to have it shown on TV or in a movie theater, which is where companies like NBC or Warner Brothers come in.
Next time you watch TV, check out the last part of the end credits (or at the very beginning of a movie). You’ll see a little snippet that you may not have paid much attention to before. Each snippet is the logo of the production company that actually made the show or movie and sold it to a distributor. Some of these companies are created specifically for a particular project, like New Girl’s Elizabeth Meriweather Productions, and may come back again and again when the same people make more projects, like J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot or Grub Street Productions, which was responsible for Cheers, Frasier, and Wings. Some companies stick around for years, constantly picking up new content, like the reality TV giant Bunim/Murray or Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment.
We production people are hired directly by companies like MLP, Bad Robot, or Imagine Entertainment. For those days, weeks, or months that we are part of a production, we work for that production company. Then, when the production is done, whether for a season or forever, we move on and work on another production with another production company. Along the way, we hope to make as many connections as we can so that we can work more with great people like at MLP!