Back to International Women's Day 2023

Aura Popa

Marketing Manager - 80six

How did you start out in film and TV?

I started as a camerawoman for the National Television in Romania. As someone who was passionate about photography and writing from a young age, I knew I’d end up in a creative career. At 18, I didn’t know exactly which side of the entertainment industry I would land. 

I studied cinematography for a while, thinking that if I learned to create powerful images embedded with energy, subtext and meaning, it’d be an invaluable skill wherever I end up.


What was your career path and how did it lead your current position?

After two years in live TV in Romania, I moved to London and started life from scratch. I landed my first marketing role in content curation based on my capacity to tell stories through video. Next, I worked for a restaurant group where I spent two years going back and forth to Spain, filming stories about the food & culture of each region. 

I moved into marketing for live events on a cultural project by The Royal Institute of British Architects called ‘The Architects Underground’ where I had the privilege to collaborate with the Jazz International Festival, the BBC and Epic Games to produce inspiring evenings where film, literature, architecture, cutting-edge technology and music seamlessly collided to inspire new ideas.

When the pandemic hit, I lost my job in events industry and decided to return to my first love-film. After four months of applying to jobs for 10 hours a day, I met Dan and Jack on a zoom call. Their vision for the virtual production studio and their aspirations in working with real-time technologies inspired me to the core, and here I am now.


What has / does your current role entail?

I currently lead the marketing department at 80six, in charge of the marketing strategy and its execution while overseeing all our publicity and partnership efforts. We operate in various markets, from film & TV to live entertainment, fashion, corporate events and sports, which is very exciting for me. As a creative marketer, this enables me to work with a variety of clients with different creative challenges. 

My next challenge is developing and growing our vibrant brand to a one-word brand-equity level. Our brand essence hinges on our young creative force. We’re bold, ambitious and relentlessly innovative –that’s magnetic! I hope I can cleverly capture that through our messaging and visual design.


What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?

Most of the challenges I faced in my career were internal. As a creative, you have a mutable identity for a while, or in some cases, forever. Our brains and personalities are wired to be interested in an avalanche of different things. That can be overwhelming when you start your career and are unsure which path to take and how to allocate your time to master everything. Luckily, in film and TV, the multi-hyphenated identity is widely accepted, and I borrowed that mentality while I shifted from camera to scriptwriting to events to marketing. 

When I started in the camera department 10 years ago, seeing a woman behind the camera was rare, especially in Romania. I remember when I saw a female-led crew filming on the streets in New York for the first time, I stopped and cried. Back home, they would totally dismiss me and ask me to make the coffee still! 
I'm glad things have changed, and now I get to work with such incredible female cinematographers at our studio.


What have you been most proud of during your career?

It must’ve been a coincidence, but the day we launched our virtual production studio in 2021, that day Netflix got in touch, an incredible client to have on our books. The whole project with ‘Virtual Production Studios by 80six’ was realised in two months, from ideation to business plan, positioning, content and launching the website, which is a crazy timeline. Nevertheless, I’m proud of our efforts in such a short time frame –it challenged me to quickly absorb all the research in virtual production at that point overnight. And again, overnight, I became an advocate for virtual production as I was so inspired by the new types of stories it could bring to the small and the big screen. Even if I work in technology, I’m always about the story.


Are we doing enough to help maintain talent? What are the ways the industry could improve that? 

Women's representation in behind-the-scenes roles hasn’t increased equally across the board. Studies from 2021 reveal that women comprised 32% of producers, 26% of executive producers, 22% of editors, 17% of directors and writers, and only 6% of cinematographers. 

To retain talent and increase the number of women in leadership roles, we need to continue addressing gender bias by implementing policies and training programmes to prevent unconscious bias in the decision-making process. In addition, we need to financially support non-profit organizations that advocate for women, such as Women in Film and TV (WFTV) or Womenin Film (WIF), that work hard to give us access to role models, sponsors and mentors. 

Understanding the challenges working mothers face, educating ourselves more about the challenges women of colour encounter, and creating a flexible culture that addresses those issues is essential to embracing equity.


What piece of advice would you give someone wanting follow in your footsteps?

Stay curious, have faith that your curiosity will open doors while your confidence builds. Fail quickly, many times, but learn fast.