Behind the lens with TVC’s Director of Production

Our Director of Production Leon Schlesinger talks adventures in space, the waiting game and what makes TVC stand out.

Firstly, tell us about your role and what a typical day looks like…

I look after the operational running of both the Production and Edit teams. I started out at TVC as a radio engineer and over 14 years have honed my skills creating engaging content, running multi-camera shoots, orchestrating satellite media tours and delivering live broadcasts.

Our incredible portfolio of global clients means there is never really a typical day. For example, I was recently onsite at the European Space Agency in French Guiana (looking at the island where the original Papillon was set) and a couple of days later I was in the Mojave Desert. But more often than not I’m holding the fort while the rest of the team is on location shooting and editing around the world. Our team works on around 200+ shoots a year spanning more than 20 countries – that’s a lot of footage…

TVC was recently named Production Team of the Year at The Drum Agency Business Awards – what makes the agency different?

We stand out because of our passion to create content, along with our ability to deliver everything under one roof.  The team has depth and breadth of skills – from specialists in creative strategy and idea generation, to pre-production and directing, to the edit suite and through post-production, grading creating 3D graphics and animation. It’s a powerful offering and gives us a competitive edge.

Being part of The Economist Group is also a unique point of difference – we can tap into their global resources and networks as well as access a wealth of ideas, insights and thought leaders from around the world.

What are some of the highlights of your career and what advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Travelling has been a major part of the job, taking me to the remotest corners of the globe, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work with people from all walks of life.

I have so many incredible memories but the ones that stand out include going to a street party in Kingston with Usain Bolt; flying around the world with Sir Richard Branson; and playing kick-ups on a deserted beach with David Beckham in Brazil. Living in Angola for a month for the African Cup of Nations; hanging out with A$AP Rocky in New York; and watching a space rocket launch in South America are also up there as highlights.

It might sound glamorous but there’s a LOT of hanging around – in airports, in remote locations…waiting for famous people who might only have five minutes for you to get what you need.

The biggest piece of advice I can give someone wanting to get into this game is to embrace every opportunity, make the most of it and have fun! Live for the moment because you don’t know where you’ll be landing (or waiting) next.

What’s your preferred bit of kit?

The one thing I always try to take away with me or take on a shoot is a stills camera. I’ve shot and used many different film cameras but I’ve always had a passion for photography. Nowadays I seem to mainly take pictures of my kids on my iPhone so whenever I’m away I like to take my camera with me to ensure that I keep one eye looking through the lens.

What are the big content trends you’re seeing emerge this year?

There are a couple that stand out…

The output of the content that we create at TVC really varies. From doing red carpet films to capturing rocket launches to shooting on a farm – every job is completely different. But whatever the intended output, we’ve noticed a growing need for content that works across social as well. Whether that’s versioning the content, making a cut down or teaser or creating something specifically for Instagram, were getting more requests for content for social.

This year is turning out to be the year of the podcast. We’re being asked to create podcasts for campaigns and clients who typically wouldn’t have previously seen the value in them. Even clients who have actively moved away from the humble ‘audio only’ have been asking about them.

Branded online media centres are definitely in demand. We’ve been building online newsrooms for 15 years and with the launch of our latest version of DNA we’ve taken media centres to the next level, powering content distribution strategies around the globe.

Not necessarily a content trend but something that’s really exciting is the space race which has really begun to take flight this year and is keeping us busy.  We’ve got so much experience in this field – from Red Bull Stratos which saw Felix jump from the edge of space 10 years ago, to campaigns we’ve worked on over the last month for Virgin Galactic, Collins Aerospace and satellite launches in French Guiana. We look forward to even more adventurous briefs as we explore the final frontier.

And finally, tell us something nobody knows about you…

Nope.

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