Kirsty Ratcliffe

Job title:

Career path

Kirsty studied for an MA in Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Kent, and in her final year specialised in ‘applied theatre’. For this element she facilitated drama workshops with community groups, and had to find ways to source money, be responsible for a budget, and put together a schedule. This was her first taste of what production entails.

Having spent a brief period working in recruitment, where she learnt basic admin skills that have been useful going forward, Kirsty decided to bite the bullet and signed up to a recruitment agency looking to move into a more creative role. Through this route she was interviewed for a Receptionist role at Passion Pictures. Passion is a multiple Oscar winning independent production company with offices and animation studios in London, Paris, New York and Melbourne.

It was explained to her at the interview that some of the producers at Passion had started out as Runners and Receptionists, so Kirsty accepted the job excited about the prospects of the role.

After eight months on reception Kirsty was promoted to production assistant. 

The Role

“You have to be prepared for long hours. You have to be passionate and committed as you end up living and breathing animation. It can also get quite busy when the team is working towards a presentation or a production has just been green lit.”

Kirsty worked as a production assistant for nearly two years, and over this period her responsibilities grew. She was fortunate to have been involved in big campaigns for brands, such as Compare the Market and its familiar meerkat characters, and worked on a new campaign for Anchor Cheddar.

Her role supported the team at the London studio, where there are around 35 people on the production floor. Kirsty worked closely with CG Coordinators that manage the crew, to keep on top of the schedules and budgets for a production. She felt she has a lot of support from the team and is coached about specific aspects of the role such as the CG production pipeline that she had no knowledge of before.

She also interacted with producer and directors on a daily basis. If she worked on a project that is an animation and live action hybrid she would also work with a live action producer. She admires the way producers quickly react to issues in a calm manner, and was learning from them what needs to be prioritised to keep the production running smoothly.

As production assistant, she supported the team across the production process. Her role included working with the storyboard artists on assembling the boards for a production, putting schedules together and processing invoices. Shadowing the producer that she is assigned to on a project, she often attended pre-production meetings with the agency and their client, was present at conference calls, and at briefings with directors. She learnt a lot listening to directors briefing the animators and is taking on board the way that they look at and analyse a scene.

Kirsty was also given responsibility to produce a couple of small projects, including a 2D animated Father's Day promotion for the Barclays Code Playground campaign. As she’s had the experience of working on big campaigns, working on small projects felt not as daunting while still learning the ropes.

Kirsty is now VFX producer at the Mill. She has most recently produced the Halifax TV commercials featuring the Hanna-Barbera characters Top Cat and The Flintstones and is currently working on a big commercial project.

As a VFX producer Kirsty has more responsibility than in her previous role as a production assistant and now oversees the entire production pipeline of a project. She has also been exposed to more CG projects, working increasingly with both 2D and 3D animation. Kirsty is involved with scheduling the productions, briefing artists, facilitating meetings and tracking budgets. She liaises more closely with artists and also deals directly with the client (an agency) on a daily basis; coordinating between the agency’s creative director, the internal creative director at The Mill and the external director on each project.

Kirsty enjoys the fast pace of the VFX industry and relishes the opportunity to work with many different artists on a variety of content due to the short production turnaround times of commercial projects. While working as a production assistant Kirsty had aspirations to become an animation feature film producer. However, after joining The Mill and speaking to people she knows in the film industry, she realises that producing commercials suits her much better and she would like to continue working in visual effects and CG.



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