From production coordinator to production director: Haydn Clarke.

Good leaders work right alongside their team, not above. Production director Haydn talks about the importance of production at different scales, from creating global brands to making sure that, at the heart of our studio, we put people first.

To produce excellent work, you have to nurture the people behind the ideas. Throughout Haydn’s journey, he learnt that creatives and clients must collaborate as one team in order to produce work that’s true to the brand idea.

Haydn worked in a film distribution company before he came to DixonBaxi. He felt stagnant in his role, so he researched what kinds of creative opportunities were out there. That’s when he discovered branding, and landed the position of production coordinator at our studio.

A born leader and learner, Haydn was trusted with big responsibilities from the start.  He already had client-facing skill sets, but the production side of things was new to him. It was a matter of learning by doing, and “[i]t was a baptism by fire.” A month in, he was put on the Formula E project. Having proven his talent and reliability from the start, he was able to hold client meetings on his own in a junior role.

“Every time you finish a project, you take a bit of it forward with you. You have to sit down with yourself and reflect on how you could have done things differently. That’s how you grow.”

In another two years, he was promoted to senior producer. “You start grasping the bigger picture. You’re able to bring your knowledge of the client’s ambitions and give input into strategy and design.” It was his job to find interesting solutions to complex problems, like working around tight budgets and sourcing experts for the skills we don’t have in house. On top of everything else, this was when the pandemic forced the studio to work remotely. More than ever, we needed strong leaders like Haydn to make sure our work stayed top-line while our people received support through an unusual time.

The more he rose through the agency, the more he felt the weight of his responsibilities; the work that he and his team did would be visible across the globe. Haydn recalls the sheer scale of the AC Milan project. He got to work with clients at all levels within the club, from local to global. “There was a huge responsibility in knowing that our work was going all the way up the chain. Our designs were shown everywhere – on the sides of buses, on every digital board in the San Siro stadium. It was a monumental shift not just for the club but for the entire sports world.”

“The work is always best when people are creating with passion. It’s what makes production fun. It’s not just about numbers and admin.”

Now, as production director, Haydn not only manages multiple projects, he’s also responsible for making sure the production team has the support they need. “You become one of the leaders of a project. People don’t just look to you to make things happen, they look to you for answers on how to make them happen.” He manages each project at every scale, mapping out every stage of the process over months, as well as organising the team from day to day.

The production director has to put people first. They mentor other producers in their projects, making sure they’re getting the most out of their own careers. “As the company grows year upon year, the level of projects coming in has increased as well.” There’s pressure that comes with the title. “As a production director, I have to be the safety net for my team. I guide them and help them figure things out for themselves.” This means pushing them to grow, building their confidence in front of clients, giving them the same opportunities he was given when he started.

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“Communication, obviously, will help you in every facet of your life.”

He’s also the conduit between our creatives and clients. On projects at the scale of Max, for example, building good relations with the client team is vital, “[b]ecause the collaborative process doesn’t just apply to our creatives within the studio. We have to come together with the clients as one cohesive team, sharing one vision."

Haydn brings up his interest in AI and tech spheres when asked about future ambitions. “These are projects that will change the world. It would be a valuable opportunity to get to be a part of those discourses.”

“It’s a job that anyone can do.”

When asked what advice he would give to those wanting to start in the creative industry, Haydn says that “[t]here’s no one right style, as long as you find a way to harness what you’re good at.” Having worked with all kinds of producers in his career, he’s come to realise this: “The only thing you need for this industry is passion. As long as you have that, there is a place for you here. Everything else can be learnt.”