This week, we’re shining the Spotlight on Interactive Producer, Chloe Barraclough, to hear about her not-so typical daily routine, production management style, and what she loves most about working at Aardman…
1. How did you start out in the industry and what is your role at Aardman?
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of 6 weeks work experience at Sky News, both in their London and European studios alongside my study. 24 hour news is full on but I loved the buzz of live TV, cameras, people and production. I knew from then on I wanted to pursue a career in media production in some capacity. Skip forward 10 years and I’ve gone from hard hitting headlines to augmented reality sheep and I’ve never looked back!
I work at Aardman as a Producer in the wonderfully diverse and innovative Interactive department, producing projects that push technical and creative boundaries and that celebrate the craft, humour and storytelling that Aardman are famous for. No day is the same in the Interactive team and I’m always excited to discover new creative ways to bring stories to life through emerging technologies and platforms. It’s all very exciting, but there’s always a budget and schedule to deal with that brings me back down to earth!
2. To date, what has been your biggest professional achievement?
One of the first projects I managed was probably the biggest learning curve for me and something I’ll always be proud of. Saptan Stories was a mass collaborative arts event to celebrate UK/India’s Year of Culture. Members of the Indian public were invited to submit and vote on storylines for a unique seven-part story, which was illustrated by seven incredible artists from both the UK and India. It felt like a real success story for many reasons; the global reach was phenomenal, with thousands of storyline entries and votes, a million people actively engaging, 18 million social reach and a press readership of over 93 million! Those are some big numbers to be dealing with on my first project! But it was an ambitious project that combined engaging storytelling that Aardman are celebrated for with visual artistry from around the world, something truly exciting and to be proud of both on a personal level and as an Aardman creative export.
3. Name three people who inspire you:
My mum and dad (yes I know – ‘awwwww…’). My dad used to report on live TV to millions of people, that’s mad! So whenever I get nervous speaking in front of people I think of how he must have handled things; professionally and with a smile.
My mum introduced me to yoga from a young age, which taught me about compassion, respect for yourself and others, and about maintaining measured control in all situations – all valuable assets in my role when working with different people and dealing with challenging clients.
In general I try to take inspiration from every person I meet, everyone has something to inspire, just some people are better at exhibiting it.
4. Tell us what a typical day at the studio is like for you?
The day will start with a coffee, someone will make a pot for the whole team, I like that we do that. Then I’ll settle in checking mine and my team’s calendars and my project schedules for the day. This is usually before 9.30 so I can be ON IT by the time my teams get in. Then we’ll have Stand Ups, these are short catch ups where the project teams stand up and briefly outline (you stand so people don’t waffle on) what they did the day before, what they are doing today and if they have any ‘blockers’ (people or things that block them from progressing with their work). It’s my job to unblock and make sure my project team has everything they need to do the best job (but most importantly that they’re happy!). Oh and typically the day will include some kind of pun creation, invariably sheep related…
5. What do you like most about working at Aardman?
Also that weird things are normal… like someone walking up the stairs with a life size Gromit costume on carrying a cup of tea discussing the weather, or break dancers performing in reception next to a giant Shaun the Sheep sculpture whilst being filmed by Nick Park (this actually happened), or spending an hour with a team of creative directors and designers deliberating over whether that cabbage in the background of a game based at Mossy Bottom Farm would roll left or right, and is that cabbage the correct Hex colour or is it more a shade yellower?… You forget how not normal these things are when you experience it every day, but I like that.
6. Do you have a particular production management style? What workflows and techniques do you usually use to maintain an efficient production?
I always strive to give my teams as much agency and sense of ownership over the job at hand, instilling a sense of trust, flexibility, empowerment and collaboration to get the best job done. If we’re getting technical, I’d say my production management style is most closely aligned with Agile methodologies, a largely iterative and incremental approach to delivering project requirements.
7. What’s your desk/work area like – messy or tidy?
A bit like my mind – compartmentalised. There are tidy areas where my organised stuff lives and areas that are more playful and creative.
8. How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Where possible I leave work at the door. When project deliveries approach this is definitely harder though.
9. What has been your all-time favourite project that you’ve been involved with and why?
I love being involved with producing Interactive content to support our features, there’s always such a buzz in the company in the lead up to a new movie release and it’s so exciting to be at the heart of it all.
10. What’s your best advice for people wanting to get into the interactive industry?
Keep learning and be nimble – technology is ever evolving at a rapid pace, so keeping up to date and being quick to evolve with it is key.
11. Who is your favourite Aardman character and why?
That’s very difficult, it changes all the time… but I think I’m currently a big fan of Lu-La, from our new Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.
I’ve been working really closely with Lu-La on the Interactive content and discovering her many character tropes, her cheekiness, cuteness and naughtiness all expressed through just her facial expressions and poses. Adorable!