Life as a line producer can be a challenge

Life as a line producer can be a challenge

Mark Kinsella is a line producer with a varied range of credits to his name, including Grandma’s House, Little Crackers, Trollied (series one, two and Xmas episode) and the Jonathan Creek special.

He is currently working on Us and Them (w/t) for GOLD, about a couple whose friends and family have plenty to say about the twenty year age gap between them.

The Hat Trick Productions comedy shoots from early July-mid August, so we were particularly pleased when Mark found time in his busy schedule to talk to The Knowledge about life as a line producer.

Starting out

I have been line producing for the past two and a half years. Prior to that I spent ten years working my way up through production as runner, secretary, co-ordinator and production manager.

Becoming a line producer

Perseverance, determination and hard work helped me get to this stage. As soon as I started out in the industry and found out what everyone’s jobs involved I knew that I wanted to be an LP because I like to be in control and hold the purse strings

The main challenges of the role

Generally, the main hurdles are usually the lack of time and money. Specifically, my last job was possibly the most challenging: the Jonathan Creek special. [which aired at Easter on BBC One]. Creek is a long running and hugely popular series, so the ambitions and expectations of the show have increased – but the budget hasn’t.

This means that you spend a lot of time negotiating costs and bartering. In addition to that, the shoot itself was also pretty eventful: as we had lots of snow; a broken ankle; a security guard giving himself an electric shock causing a power failure at our location and base; a unit car ending up in a ditch; a minibus crashing into our crane; a lead artist illness; paparazzi and an extended schedule… but we got there in the end! We produced a great special – it was a fantastic learning experience which I won’t forget in a hurry.

Most memorable job

There have to be two. My first job will always be memorable for me as it was my first experience of the industry, and I was young and everything was so fresh and exciting.

It was on The Frank Skinner Show which had a great atmosphere and lots of high profile guests. I feel lucky to have kicked off my career with a fantastic crew and a brilliant line producer who inspired me.

My other highlight would be working on Trollied (the Roughcut TV/Sky comedy set in a supermarket). We set up production in a disused bottling plant in Bristol and built a supermarket complete with fully stocked shelves, working fridges, freezers and checkouts. It was created on a huge scale and constantly impressed visitors to the set.

It’s always exciting to set up a new project from scratch as you never quite know what the end result will be. We had a brilliant cast and crew and I got to spend a couple of good summers in the West Country.

The changing role

Budgets seem to be decreasing at the moment, or at best staying the same, while all other costs are increasing, so our schedules become condensed. Nobody likes working 11 day fortnights, because for lots of the crew the job doesn’t end as soon as wrap is called.

Also, with constant developments in technology, the viewer is always looking for new ways to be satisfied with their TV choices – this of course has a knock-on effect to production and we have to keep on our toes.

Being a line producer – the key skills

You need to be organi

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