Jo Coombes | Alumni | Mountbatten Program
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Jo Coombes

Jo Coombes

A Day In The Life

Program:  New York

Intake:  January 2006

Current Role:  Freelance Producer in the UK advertising industry

Current Role:

I’m a freelance Producer within the UK advertising industry. Jobs can be a few days or a couple of months, depending on the type of commercial being made and how involved the shoot is. Between projects, I run an industry initiative called AdGreen, which exists to support the advertising industry’s transition to environmentally sustainable production methods; working in collaboration with trade bodies and other industry organisations to accelerate the adoption of best practice.

My Alarm Goes off…

At 07.30 if I’m in the office, 5am if I’m on set… and about 9am if I’ve got a day off!

I’m Responsible For…

Most commercials are dreamed up by the ad agency, signed off by the client’s marketing department, and then made by a production company who has won the bid based on the Director’s creative and the submitted budget. I join once the project is confirmed, making sure the shoot goes smoothly in terms of logistics, and liaising with all the different departments, from the client, ad agency and Director, right down to the company bringing the portaloo. It’s my job to make sure we don’t overspend, whether it’s a £50k or £500k budget!

I Got The Job…

Having first encountered the world of advertising via my Mountbatten internship at ‘jingle house’ Big Foote Music, I returned to London to work for another music company. After 3 years there, I realised my heart was in production so I started to volunteer my time on music videos and short films to get some experience. From there I worked for a small production company, then a much larger one, then went out as a freelance production manager. I have recently moved to Edinburgh and stepped into service company producing at LS Productions – collaborating on shoots with other production companies when they want to utilise locations, facilities and local crew in Scotland, Wales and the North of England. AdGreen was born about four years ago, after seeing how much waste was produced on an average shoot. Since then it’s expanded and we’re looking more broadly at how the industry can measure and reduce it’s carbon emissions, in collaboration with other initiatives like BAFTA’s albert.

My Typical Day…

Put simply, there isn’t one. If I’m on set I can be working anywhere! In a field, on a beach, at a castle, or closing a road – generally I’m overseeing the shoot, looking after clients and troubleshooting as needed. Days in the office working with my production team will be spent putting the big pieces of the puzzle in place, such as locations, casting and key crew; or working on production minutiae like organising a baby seat for the visiting director’s hire car or reconciling petty cash! AdGreen days are generally spent writing blogs, organising events and catching up with other green production enthusiasts to try and advance tools and resources available to the industry.

The Culture Of My Workplace…

LS Productions is a very fun, collaborative and supportive place to work, with a thankfully casual dress code (fun shoes and sequins actively encouraged though).

My Most Memorable Work Moment…

Probably shooting on a super yacht out of Monaco with Eric Cantona…

My Role Models are…

Anyone who subscribes to the ‘good things come to those who .. work their asses off and never give up’ mantra – which is the wallpaper on my computer desktop.

The Most Challenging Part of My Job…

The day before the shoot is typically very stressful – as much as you can prepare prior to being out on location, there are so many details that can only be tied up at the last minute. There have been plenty of late nights over the last 10 years, but most can be fixed with a pizza and a glass of wine. Just one mind – there’s the 5am alarm to consider!

The Best Part of My Job…

Meeting such an incredible variety of people, and going to really amazing locations. Plus there’s a huge sense of accomplishment when you see the work you helped create.

After Work…

At the moment, mainly exploring the many bars, restaurants, running routes and bike paths of Edinburgh and beyond. It’s such a beautiful city and despite being here a few months now, I still feel like an excited tourist when I get the chance to look around! When that wears off I’ll revert back to going to the cinema a lot.

Plan B: If I wasn’t doing this, I would…

Having just got engaged, I’d say a wedding planner. Turns out a wedding is just a much more expensive shoot!