This month, we’re shining the spotlight on Aardman Production Coordinator, Liz Boyles. Read on for an insight into Liz’s life at our Aztec West studio, and find out how passion and persistence helped kick-start her career…
How did you start out in the media industry and what is your role at Aardman?
My first insight into the media industry was doing a placement at Tottenham Hotspur FC. I was given the opportunity of filming and conducting fan Q&As for the players and managers, helping out with tours and seeing the production team edit the games live. I relished the diverse, fast-paced nature of it, and knew after only two weeks, media was the industry for me.
I was always drawn to Aardman. Their incredible portfolio of work, paired with my passion for post production made it an easy decision to apply for the role as a CGI production coordinator. After spending three years working in CGI, I then did another year in the commercial department at Gas Ferry Road. I have now moved to my current role at Aztec West to work on an exciting project for the features department.
To date what has been your biggest professional achievement?
Other than successfully fixing River Monsters presenter Jeremy Wade’s fishing gear, I would say seeing my name on the cinema screen for coordinating the credits sequence on Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon. It was amazing to get the chance to work on a feature.
Name three people who inspire you?
Jason Abbott – he was my media teacher who encouraged me to go into the media industry. Mr Abbot was one of those teachers who made the lessons fun and engaging. (Shame I couldn’t say the same about my geography teacher) I think it’s important to remember who first sparked your interest and I wanted to thank him for helping guide me on my career path.
Reese Witherspoon – what I love the most about Reese Witherspoon is how she has promoted more female-driven roles in film and TV, such as Gone Girl and Big Little Lies. I also like her attitude to life, having openly spoken out about her career rejections and how she treated them as a redirection to her true path. It serves as a reminder to me that strength is in perseverance and that there are always better things more suited for you waiting around the corner.
Danny Boyle – for the simple fact that he’s my favourite film director. He wears his heart on his sleeve and always tries to portray that on the big screen. I enjoy the honesty and reality of his work and what he creates. I have always loved films where I can empathise and engage with the characters’ raw emotions, which I think Danny Boyle is the master of bringing to life.
Tell us what a typical day at the studio is like for you?
My day is usually a juggling act, consisting of several tasks depending on the project that I’m working on. Generally speaking, I would say that my day consists of making sure the production crew, directors and artists are informed of where they need to be, ensuring all members of the team have been briefed and know what they are doing for the day ahead. I’m also in charge of scheduling tasks, dealing with finances and budgets, contacting and booking crew, plus any general tasks that require problem-solving. It’s a matter of being adaptable, which I love. However, in my current role, I’m mainly focused on the story team and edit process which is really enjoyable as I get to immerse myself in the heart of the characters and the art of storytelling.
What do you like most about working at Aardman?
I like the people and the creative work that we make. There are so many talented and passionate people and it still amazes me to see what they can create from nothing.
What’s your desk/work area like?
An organised mess – joke! I love to spread out my work to see what I’m working with but I never leave without clearing everything up at the end of the day. Call me old fashioned, but I love a good post-it note, pad and pens. It’s nice to physically cross something off when it’s done rather than note it down on your computer. It somehow makes you feel more productive.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
Daily walkies with my dog called Monkey and my partner to get some fresh air and exercise. I also enjoy swimming and running to help relax and calm the mind. And not forgetting socialising with friends and family – which usually consists of a few cheeky proseccos.
What has been your all-time favourite project that you’ve been involved with and why?
I have enjoyed lots of projects but one that I particularly loved was working in CG to create some VR animation for the Australian department store, Myer’s Christmas campaign. We had stills of the real puppets posed in positions with the Myer products that were printed in their marketing campaigns, posters and magazines. Then it was our job to create CG models that would come alive with 10-second looped animation through 3D glasses. I had a lot of fun making it with a great animation team and it was rewarding seeing the process come alive.
What would your best advice for people wanting to get into the industry?
I would say go for it! It’s an interesting and exciting job and no day will be the same. But you need the passion and drive to want to do it, as it’s a competitive industry. I’d also say don’t give up at the first hurdle because that role might not be right for you. I think I called/emailed about 10 much smaller media companies before I was lucky enough to get a reply from Tottenham Hotspur FC.
I also had to literally knock on the door at Aspect Film and Video before getting an editing placement! Having a positive, proactive and persistent attitude, building up your CV and then keeping your eyes peeled for that first opportunity is crucial to help you land your first production job.
What is your favourite Aardman Character and why?
Feathers McGraw – this character is Aardman humour to a T! A sinister penguin disguised as a chicken – and his disguise actually works… genius! He’s also a non-speaking character that uses his expressions to show his emotions, again something that Aardman is so good at.