From intern to senior producer: Claudia Kaleta.
There is never a project where nothing goes wrong. How you recalibrate and get your team back on track is what defines you as a leader. Senior producer Claudia talks about how she came across the production side of branding, and how her organisation skills help her turn people's ideas into reality.
In this industry, there’re a lot of behind-the-scenes roles that, done well, tend to go unnoticed. But without them, the project would grind to a halt. Claudia’s journey exemplifies the quick thinking and leadership it takes to be a good producer, especially when quick turnarounds leave little room for error.
Originally, she worked as a docu-series editor in South Africa after studying film, media and psychology. Unsatisfied with the progression of her role, she came to London in pursuit of a different kind of creative career. After getting an MA in production, Claudia's friend suggested she apply for a 2-week placement as a video editor at the studio where they were interning. That studio was us. A fortnight later, having excelled in her role, we immediately made her a permanent production assistant.
“I remember saying to myself: they’re taking a chance on you here, don’t f**k this up.”
She vividly remembers working on AC Milan with Haydn (production director), whose holiday coincided with an intense delivery phase. She stepped up to fill the role and the pressure was on, with a huge deliverables list against a tight deadline. “I remember printing trackers, spreadsheets, checklists that Haydn created and laying them out on the table, covering the walls with them. Every morning, the team would stand around the spreads and tick things off together.” It was at that point that she fully understood the jigsaw puzzle that producers had to piece together. Above all, she learnt how important time management was.
“The producers are the holders of the master plan. It’s not easy to keep track of everything at once.”
Claudia has worked incredibly closely with British Land, producing around 30 projects for them over her five years at DB. They weren’t all branding projects. In fact, a lot of them were executional, but they were important to the client and helped her rapidly develop her skills, especially in the early years.
Back when she started, DB didn’t have a full growth team yet, so producers would help Carolina (head of growth) put together proposals and run the creative pitches alongside Marta (head of production). “It felt like pure madness in those moments, but they were crucial to my growth and understanding of business and production. I’m grateful for those opportunities.”
“No one really understands how much work a production assistant or coordinator does. They’re involved in projects, but they also have so many hidden responsibilities that not a lot of people in the studio are aware of.”
Claudia quickly progressed to production coordinator, and then producer. As a coordinator, she had the dual responsibility of making sure both the studio and production teams were well equipped. She constantly worked above her role to prove that she was ready for the next step. As a producer, she became fully responsible for projects. “The jump from coordinator to producer was a big shift; it felt like a tipping point,” she recalls. When the smooth running of a project falls on your shoulders, you have to be switched on at all times.
It’s a humbling experience to see the way our work ripples out into the real world. “KOKO was one of the first places I went when I moved to London. 4 years later, I was producing their rebrand. It was a dream project.”
“There’s never really a moment when you’re not learning, applying, upgrading.” The most important skill she learnt was the ability to be agile. No matter how much planning you do, there’s always a million things that can go wrong. It’s why we need producers like Claudia, who are able to think quickly on their feet and get the team back on track. It takes discipline and composure to be able to lead a team over these speed bumps.
Claudia attributes her drive to her “inherent producer quality”: whether it’s in branding or video production, she loves turning someone’s vision into reality. Even when she was a production assistant, she was producing two short films on the side. It’s a passion she wants to take further, having improved her eye for design and storytelling over the years.
“That’s my thing. When someone has such a strong vision, one I can buy into and see, I want to make it happen. I have to make it happen.”
Curiosity, openness, and a willingness to learn – if you’re looking to break into the industry, these are must-have qualities. “I don’t know if you’re ever going to have it all figured out, so don’t expect yourself to know everything before you start. Just start.”