Meet the Producers

For this weeks blog I figured it would be nice to introduce you to some of the team behind The Fitzroy. The natural place to start was with the producers James Heath and Liam Garvo.

On a chilly Sunday afternoon I sat them down and interviewed them. Which didn’t feel weird at all. I was hoping they would be able to answer that age old question ‘what exactly does a producer do?’ I’m still not a 100% clear. But this is how it went…       

Hi guys. Could you tell us a little about yourselves and your role on The Fitzroy?

Producers James Heath and Liam Garvo

James: We’re producing The Fitzroy through our production company Dresden Pictures. We’ve worked together for a number of years producing various commercials, music videos and shorts.

Liam: We set up Dresden Pictures last year with the sole ambition of turning that experience into making features and The Fitzroy is the first in a roster of films we have lined up.

How did you come on board?

J: I had previously produced a short film, Andrew directed called Beat It a few years ago.

Oh yeah. You did a good job.

Thanks! Well we got on really well and though our careers took us in slightly different directions we always stayed in touch and talked about projects. When Andrew mentioned he had a feature script Liam and I were both really keen to read it ASAP.

L: After reading it, I think both James and I knew straight away it was a film we both wanted to make. We spoke to Andrew fairly soon afterwards and were pretty open about being keen on producing it and how we’d like to approach the project. Thankfully Andrew was happy with our approach and agreed terms for Dresden Pictures to produce The Fitzroy.

That’s very kind of you! What first attracted you to the script?

J: It was the originality that really drew us to the project. It’s the sort of film you don’t really see made now days in Britain, in a crowded market of horror, gangster and kitchen dramas.

L: Historically we haven’t really been as involved in comedies, but this was just so well written and had a lot of laugh out loud moments that is was just impossible to say no to it.

Okay enough about The Fitzroy. What about you, what’s your background?

L: I’ve worked as a producer since 2007 when I established Coral Bark Productions to create fresh and innovating high concept dramatic short films.  I have produced numerous award nominated and winning short films and music videos with a number of short films appearing as official selection in various festivals around the world such as Palm Springs Shorts International, Raindance, Sci-Fi London and Portobello.

J: My background is predominantly in producing commercial content for big brands such Sony, Heineken and Nokia. I was a founder of Epoch Republic, a commercial production company where I delivered digital video content for a number of clients including Apple, McDonald’s and NSPCC. I’ve worked with many advertising agencies and have also worked as in-house producer at Google’s creative lab.

My passion has always been in film though and began working with Liam in 2007 on shorts and music videos, after producing the live action 3D short Breathe it was decided in 2011 to commit to making features and formed Dresden Pictures with Liam.

L: This year James and I were also shortlisted for the 48hr Sci-Fi London competition for our film The Correct Angle. Creating everything within that film in 48hrs on little to no budget, is definitely a good test for what we’ll probably experience when making The Fitzroy!

The Correct Angle (password: recursion)

I always find it fascinating how people got into the industry. Can you take us back a bit further, did you go to university or college and how did you first start in the business?

J: As I say, I’ve always been passionate about film. I remember standing up in school at aged 10 and saying I want to be a Film Director when I grow up. I went to Uni (Surrey Institute of Art Design) and studied digital film making, directed a few shorts and my first sort of job was as a casting assistant. I think I spent one day as a runner and realised that’s not for me, produced a few short films and low budget music videos for no money but that’s where I found my calling. I went on to become a production manger at a commercial production company and learnt my craft that way.

L: I didn’t study media or film at college, I was on a completely different career path at the time.  I sort of woke up one day and thought I needed to do something creative and decided to make a short.  I suppose that’s when I caught the bug – after producing / directing my first piece which was a trailer for a competition.  It won and I never looked back.

Okay here’s the big one. What does a producer actually do? Especially on a film of this scale and budget.

J: Liam and I were literally having this conversation yesterday, we were discussing that unlike many other roles, there are lots of different types of producers. People who come at it from production management like me, accountants, actors, lawyers even directors. Though in my opinion, the Producer shepherds the film from its origins to completion and beyond, often starting long before the film-making process and continuing to talk about and sell the picture long after everyone else has gone on to other projects

L: Yeah, that’s funny, we were having this exact conversation last night.  As James says there are several types of producers and each approach can be different depending on how one comes into producing but in general the producer is the person ultimately responsible for making the film happen from development (or inception) through to the end.

Can be a little like herding cats at times.

How do you split the work between yourselves?

J: Hmmmm… Good question I’m not sure we’ve figured that one out!

L: We just do whatever needs to be done and work it out as we go.

J: We’ve been working together for years now, and just have a very natural understanding as to what we each bring to a project.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

J: The thing that attracted me to producing initially was the involvement you have with so many different people and areas of the industry. I think it’s having my fingers and thumbs in all those pies that I enjoy the most!

L: For me it’s being able to create something out of nothing but an idea or script and turning into a piece of work people can watch and enjoy (hopefully!) on screen.  It’s a great collaborative process and I get a real buzz working with everyone involved along the way.

Cool thanks for that. Oh one more thing what three words sum The Fitzroy up?

James: Fitz of Laughter

Liam: Torpedo of laughs

We’ll that was fun and odd for me. Hopefully as we go along I’ll try and do a few more of these with the rest of the team.

Hope you found it interesting – and if you have any questions for James or Liam, just leave a comment below or fire one at us on twitter and I’ll make them answer it with a red hot poker if needs be.