This International Women's Day, Cara Sheppard, Managing Director of Twickenham Studios, charts her rise through the post production ranks and her plans for a creative legacy.
How did you start out in film and TV?
I started out as a runner on set in production and worked my way up the ladder that way. It’s a great way to start even if you have a degree or have been to film school. In my opinion, the first-hand exposure and experience you get from starting at the bottom is something that can’t be replicated or taught.
What was your career path and how did it lead your current position?
I worked on set and in production for a few years working my way up the ladder. I then had the opportunity to carry a role through to Post Production which I loved. My career progressed through in Post – I was a Post Production Supervisor for a few years when I was asked to jump to the dark side of facilities. I went from being the client to being the vendor, which I think gives me a unique perspective of what we can and do offer our clients.
What has / does your role entail at the studios? What was your role in getting it established?
Anything and everything in between! Having successfully developed several facilities in the past, I was brought in to create a new identity for the studio. Taking a much-loved studio of the past into a bleeding edge and creative hub for the future.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
Covid-19 is obviously still incredibly fresh in our minds and not only the industry – but the whole world literally ground to a halt. We were actually the first studio to reopen mid-lockdown and we did so having implemented stringent health and safety protocols to protect our staff and clients which were very successful. While the pandemic certainly wounded many businesses, coming out the other side of it we have seen a rapid increase in production, not only playing catch up to all the productions put on hold but with an unheard-of volume of productions being commissioned to fill the void and to satisfy the demand for more content.
What have you been most proud of during your time at the studios / getting it to where it is?
Undoubtedly, it’s the incredible team I have built during my short time at the studio. I went out of my way to hire the very best of the best from HOD’s to Engineers and Creatives – the comradery, commitment and raw talent they all bring to the table are incredible. I’m so proud to have them as part of the team.
Are we doing enough to help maintain talent? How can studios help with that?
I think we are getting there, although it feels we’re still some way behind where we should be. As an industry, we should be focussing on how to encourage people into the industry from a young age, giving them more exposure to the opportunities and opening those doors that for many years have been closed for the vast majority of people.
What piece of advice would you give someone wanting follow in your footsteps?
Be polite and be persistent. Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Nothing worth having comes easy and if you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.
Discover more about the work of PGGB affiliates Twickenham Studios here.