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How I Got Here: Vogue Australia’s Senior Producer explains how she landed the role

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JACK TURNER
WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

From vintage stores to Vogue.

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the Internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?

Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

First up is Vogue Australia and GQ Australia’s Senior Producer, Emma Proudfoot. Emma grew up in Cornwall, England and started her career in London, interning for brands like Louis Vuitton and eventually climbing the ranks at a creative retail agency, working on campaigns for big-name clients like Selfridges and Puma.

After travelling to Australia for a work trip and falling in love (aw), she decided to move here permanently and put her connections and varied skillset to use as a freelance producer. Lots of hard work, networking and a stint working in a bakery to make ends meet followed, before getting her foot in the door at Vogue Australia. Impressive, right? Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title?

Senior Producer, Vogue Australia and GQ Australia. I produce editorial shoots across both titles, I am responsible for bringing creative concepts to life – coordinating crew, locations, bookings, sourcing new talent, and all the weird miscellaneous things in between (of which when working for Vogue there are many).

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story.

Both! It was a long slog. I graduated from the University of Manchester with an honours degree in Fashion & Textile Retailing then I moved to London. Having grown up in Cornwall, visiting relatives in London, I would be in awe of the shops and the vibrancy of the city – I always saw myself living and working there. I remember going back home with my newly acquired huge ’70s sunglasses and skinny jeans (before they were a thing) from Rokit vintage in Covent Garden and wearing them down to the local surf club.

When I moved to London I lived on the infamous Brick Lane, above a curry house and interned at Louis Vuitton. I was a complete contradiction. I was used to working in vintage stores. But I loved the theatrics and frivolity of luxury fashion in the same way. Anyway, after a while, it was clear there was no job progression for me so I went for an interview at the creative retail agency Yellowdoor (now Portas Agency). I bought a whole new outfit for the interview that morning on Regent Street and returned it straight after the interview.

It went well and I got the chance to join as a creative studio intern. I climbed up the ladder at Portas for three years working on big creative campaigns for the likes of Selfridges, Clinique, Clarks Originals, Puma – it was here that the creative director told me I would be a good producer. I had never really come across the role before. We also had Australian clients and eventually, I travelled to Australia on a work trip, I met an Australian producer on this trip that would later employee me as a freelancer, I also fell in love [and] I moved here six months later.

Upon moving to Australia I became a freelance producer and through the shoots I was working on, I made connections in the industry (the shooting world is an extremely tight-knit world, everyone knows everyone) that led to a referral for a short term roll at Vogue at first. That’s how I got my foot in the door.


Emma on set at a Vogue shoot in Currarong with a baby roo

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular?

So many! I have loved the flexibility of freelancing and had my fair share of travelling through this time which I am so grateful for however you cannot underestimate the stability of a consistent paycheck. I found my self working in a bakery at one point to top up the finances when freelancing was quiet. As much as I love baked goods that’s when I knew I was ready to throw myself into a new challenge and commit to a full-time role again.

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role?

It’s as bonkers as you’d imagine. Long days, weekend sacrifices – it all comes with the territory!

What’s the best part about your role? 

Producing work that I’m genuinely proud of, to have a platform to share important voices that deserve the spotlight, and to have the opportunity to reflect the cultural shifts happening in the world through images and storytelling is so rewarding. Also getting to travel to epic locations for shoots and seeing the most beautiful parts of Australia.

What would surprise people about your role?

Nothing seems to sit outside the realms of possibility when it comes to requests. I have found myself becoming a babysitter, casting baby joeys (like literally, which one is more ‘Vogue  – see Belle in the photo with me, our beautiful roo I claimed as pet for the day at a Vogue shoot in Currarong), cooking breakfast lunch and dinner for an entire crew whilst away on location. I have to wear many hats.

What skills have served you well in your industry?

Staying calm under pressure (on the surface, peddling like hell beneath.) Being super organised and solutions-driven. The aim is to have everything run as seamlessly as possible and to keep spirits high to let the creative process to flourish.  So even when things are not going well, you get some smoke and some mirrors and some solutions underway behind the scenes until all is actually well! Being personable is key too. Don’t underestimate the popularity of a great personality on set/road trips.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day?

It takes a thick skin to be a producer. Although you might be the one running the show, you might also be the one taking the bins home at the end of a location shoot, the one delivering the news that a certain ‘crucial’ prop is out of budget – there’s no room for ego. But if you have both a creative passion for photography and film and a super organised and pro-active skill set, it’s a great space to work in and a very powerful position to be in within an industry that more than ever needs to run on tight budgets and increasingly strict parameters.

What about a practical tip?

Get into the shooting world ASAP – running, assisting, whatever and wherever you can help out as you will build connections on set with industry people, and that’s when doors open.

@em_i_a

Read the second instalment of How I Got Here here and the third instalment here.

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