Fireside Career Chat with Award Winning Producer – Roy Ackerman

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This week we caught up briefly with the Emmy and Bafta award winning Film and TV Producer, Roy Ackerman, where we talked about his career journey, advice on leadership, productivity, work life balance as well as his insights on the changes taking place within the television and entertainment sector.

Before we dive into the interview, here’s short bio on Roy….

His incredible career has included a plethora of award winning shows including Emmy Award winning Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and the reality television series Dream School (which featured a celebrity cast including Curtis 50 Cent, David Arquette, Jesse Jackson, Oliver Stone and Swizz Beatz). Other top hit productions include Operatunity” (Bafta winner), “How Hip Hop/Clubbing changed the world” and “Streetdance” (Channel 4), to name a few.

Roy is currently the Managing Director of ‘Films Record’ and Director of international strategy at Zinc Media where he is responsible for growing the business in the US and wider global markets.

Career Elevator: Welcome Roy, thank you for joining us today at the Career Elevator Magazine, it’s a real pleasure having you with us. So let’s start by going right back to when you began your career in television. How did you first get into television and the entertainment industry?

Roy: I saw an advert in the university careers office looking for journalists and researchers on the new breakfast TV station TV-am (led by the then all-star team of David Frost, Michael Parkinson, newsreaders Anna Ford, Angela Rippon and Robert Kee).

They said you needed to get a ‘good first’. I just missed out on a first but went in for the job interview which was incredibly tough, asking me questions I could only guess at the right answer to. But I got offered a job on the spot. I had already secured a place at the Cardiff University Journalism course; I rang the principal and asked if should I take the job. He said, of course I should and I was a trainee journalist at what was to become a very controversial and troubled new TV service.

Career Elevator: For those of us not that familiar with the TV industry, what exactly does an Executive Producer do?

Roy: We develop and initiate projects, take them to broadcasters, networks and others funders and try to get them to commit. When they do, we pull together the creative teams (producers, directors, researchers, technical crew) and supervise the production creatively and administratively all the way to delivery. Those of us who work at independent producers also drive creative strategy for the business, sometimes within specific genres.

Career Elevator: How has the industry evolved since when you first started off, and what are your thoughts on the future of television?

Roy: A few observations…

There is an industry around development which didn’t exist when I started out – it leads to huge creativity but massive waste. Few platforms to many buyers – good in many ways for diversity of expression.

Diversity of employment in terms of gender, ethnicity and (dis)ability – has not moved fast enough.

Lots of new technology but the key to creativity remains original thinking, passion commitment and integrity from individuals and teams

Career Elevator: For our readers that are just starting out in their careers, what advice do you have for them?

Roy: Know Yourself.

Career Elevator: You’ve successfully held leadership positions across several organisations, what have you learned about what it takes to be a successful leader?

Roy: Too big a question to answer briefly. Trust is critical – find people around you you can trust. Don’t seek to be the smartest in the room, hire smart people. Focus on what you and the organisation really wants.

“Trust is critical – find people around you you can trust. Don’t seek to be the smartest in the room, hire smart people. Focus on what you and the organisation really wants.”

Career Elevator: I can only imagine the number of things that you have to do in any given day, what techniques can you share around remaining productive?

Roy: Keep fit, sleep and eat well. Delegate everything you can to people you trust. Don’t work all the time. Be kind to yourself and others.

Career Elevator: Have you figured out the “secret” to achieving a work/life balance?

Roy: Keep remembering that life is bigger than work, that you should love yourself and be loved for what you do to make the world, and everyone you meet, happier, not for your success or wealth.

“Keep remembering that life is bigger than work, that you should love yourself and be loved for what you do to make the world, and everyone you meet, happier, not for your success or wealth.”

Career Elevator: Do you have interests or passions outside of work?

Roy: Yes – music, sport, reading. I sing in a choir, play the saxophone. I run, I play Bridge, support the mighty Tottenham Hotspurs, read, go to films and gigs.

 

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