Under the spotlight this week is Attractions & Live Experiences Project Manager, Molly Van Den Brink. From managing events at BAFTA to wangling a giant Shaun the Sheep down to Glastonbury Festival, read on to learn more about her life at Aardman…
1. How did you start out in the industry and what is your role at Aardman?
I started at Aardman as a PA in the Rights and Brand Development department on a maternity cover basis in 2012, and subsequently began managing our numerous annual department tradeshows. During my time in this role, the ‘Live Events’ area (now renamed ‘Attractions & Live Experiences’, as the breadth of the projects we work on is so vast!) of our business grew enormously, so I was lucky enough to consequently move over to this team as Live Events Coordinator in 2015, and have since worked my way up to my current role as Project Manager. I manage a huge variety of events, experiences and attractions, so no two days are the same, but there is a lovely, holistic nature to the job from the moment a new opportunity arises to launching that event or attraction, sometimes years later!
2. To date, what has been your biggest professional achievement?
Managing the Charities Forum event at BAFTA in London in 2015, to premiere The Farmer’s Llamas, hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and then-Prince Harry, resulting in the Duke ‘welly wanging’ with Shaun the Sheep!
I also wangled the enormous Shaun the Sheep now in residence in our atrium to Glastonbury in 2015 which resulted in a free ticket – now if that’s not a perk of the job I don’t know what is.
3. Name three people who inspire you:
Roald Dahl – his character development and storytelling ability is just incredible.
Any new mums returning to work after maternity leave; it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done (next to labour perhaps!) and I have so much respect for mums learning to find themselves again after such a life changing year away.
David Attenborough – he is simply inspiring, I don’t need to explain why!
4. Tell us what a typical day at the studio is like for you?
Generally hammering away at a keyboard like most of the people in my department; liaising with clients about the progress of various projects and coordinating lots of internal elements, from design work to legal contracts. I get to visit some exciting and unique places either for market research, to scope out the feasibility of a potential event partner, or to check in on the progress and development of a project, and often find myself thinking how is this a day at work?!
5. What do you like most about working at Aardman?
I am very proud to work at Aardman as I really am passionate about and sometimes astounded by everything we produce, particularly the wonderful attention to detail and high quality standards we instil in everything that comes out of the studio doors. The best thing about working here is the people and the ethos of the company – this started with our founders, Peter & David and continues as we now run as an Employee Owned company today.
6. What’s your desk/work area like – messy or tidy?
Usually starts off tidy at the beginning of the day but is covered in papers and empty coffee cups by the end! I pin something up next to me from any particularly exciting projects I have worked on, to help inspire me and jog my memory when I need it.
7. How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I work 4 days per week, so am lucky enough to have a 3 day weekend – Aardman are great for supporting flexible working. I’ll keep an eye on emails on my day off, but generally I manage to leave the job at my desk. As my job is wholly project based, some weeks are busier than others, but we have a great team and support each other whenever people are out of the office where possible.
8. What’s been your all-time favourite project that you’ve been involved with and why?
Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels – we recently launched our first tour of this unique event package around the UK, since it was co-produced for the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall with BBC Worldwide back in 2012. It was a huge team effort to get it off the ground again and I was proud to be a part of it.
The strangest project I have ever worked on was a series of ‘Scratch n Sniff’ screenings of Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit; never thought I’d use my nose so much at work!
9. What’s your best advice for people wanting to get into the industry?
Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up… and subsequently have the patience to do so!
10. Who is your favourite Aardman character and why?
It has to be Gromit. He’s so endearing, and creatively the amount of expression and character achieved through mostly an eyebrow alone is absolutely astonishing, and I love his relationship with Wallace. My favourite ever W&G moment is in Curse of The Were-Rabbit when Gromit is puppeteering the lady Were-Rabbit on top of the Anti-Pesto van, genius and ‘cheeky’!
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