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The Spread chats with the many-talented, and deeply driven, Martina Silcock about her work as a producer, where she’s come from and where she’s going.

Martina has worked on the production and post-production side of film and TV, in various roles from production co-ordinator to post-production supervisor and manager, but over the past few years she’s shown her chops in the field of producing. We talk to her about what’s given her so much drive to succeed in a tough business.

How did your career in film start and what drew you to producing?

I’m from Manchester and had my first break as a Production Assistant on a Spice Girls documentary care of a friend who was a producer at the company (thanks, Michelle!). It was great fun but I knew that I really wanted to work in drama and there weren’t many opportunities in Manchester back then. I knew I’d have to move to London to have access to a greater pool of opportunities. When I moved I worked as a Runner on lots of short films, commercials, music videos as well as doing work experience at Pathé, whilst also doing a full-time job in post production. At Pathé I met Claire Finbow who became a good friend and who later put me forward for a job on a BBC drama. It was scary moving into the freelance world but I knew it was what I wanted to do and it was the best decision I ever made. After that job I was contacted by Frith Tiplady from Tiger Aspect, who I’d met whilst I was working in post production, about a job in-house and things moved on and on from there. I owe a lot to Claire and Frith for always thinking of me and recommending me.

Who have been your biggest professional influences and why?

Danny Boyle has always been a big hero of mine – a Northern lad done good. His films can sometimes not be completely polished but that’s what I love about them. They always have his stamp on them and he’s a great inspiration. I met him briefly a few years ago whilst I was working on a film at 3 Mills Studios (he was prepping for the Olympics) and blabbered on for a while. He was very gracious and seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career thus far?

Take every opportunity you can, there is something to learn from every experience.

What’s been the proudest moment of your career thus far?

Finally having the guts to produce my own short films – I wish I’d done it sooner. Steve Clark-Hall told me “if you want to produce just go and do it”. He made it sound very simple but it’s very true.

A still from the acclaimed BBC Two drama Man in an Orange Shirt, which Martina worked on as a production manager last year.

A lot of roles in the film and TV industry are seen as requiring specific skills, what would say are the key skills in being an effective producer?

Listening – you need to listen to the concerns of others and also any little voice in your head that says “not sure if this works”; there’s usually a reason why the little voice is saying this. Knowing the script and story inside out and keeping a vision in your head. Being good and unafraid of dealing with the money, knowing sources of finance and knowing when and how to be firm.

You worked on Man in an Orange Shirt, which ran on BBC Two last month. What was that experience like for you?

I’m very proud to have worked on Man in an Orange Shirt. It’s had such a positive response from the LGBTQIA community and it’s really touching every time I hear someone say that they loved how it showed men in love and not just focusing on sex. I made some great friends on the shoot and it was such a warm atmosphere on set.

What can you tell us about the short film you’ve produced called The Nest Egg?

The Nest Egg is a sweet morality tale about being good to people and spreading kindness. Lee Sutton (Writer), Lucy Patrick Ward (Director) and I worked together on the script for about two years before we filmed it. It took time to fine tune the script, sort financing and our lead cast. Most of the short films I’ve worked on have been very downbeat and serious and I wanted to make something that would warm people’s hearts and make them smile. It’s important to remember that there are good people in the world. We’re coming to the end of our festival tour and it’s been such an inspiring and positive experience travelling around the world meeting other filmmakers. The British Council gave me a travel grant to attend the Hamptons International Film Festival so a big thanks to them for helping me attend such a great festival.

What’s next for you?

I’m in the early stages of developing some more short films and a couple of feature films with Lucy. I’m currently looking into different funding options for each project to see which one we can take forward first. There’s a story that we’re very keen on filming soon which I think would work best as a short to then develop into a feature. It will be Lucy’s first time as a feature Director so I think it’s good to showcase to investors how it will work as a short first – or we may just decide to throw caution to the wind and go head first into the feature – watch this space!
You can find out more about The Nest Egg on Twitter and Facebook and you can find all you need to know about Martina on her website: www.notthetennisplayer.com 
Mark Birrell

Mark is the editor of The Spread as well as a freelance copywriter and lifelong cinephile. For writing enquiries, you can email him at mark@cinemajam.com and you can follow him on Twitter @markwbirrell

Posted on Jan 16, 2018

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