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Spotlight on the Estuary’s Emerging Producers: Aura Films

Aura Films is an East Anglia-based video production company that make commercial, promotional, and narrative films. The Emerging Producer Placement Scheme enabled them to find a producer for a short horror film. They told us about the scheme from an employer’s perspective, and how much it benefited their business.

Tell us about Aura Films.

We started Aura Films 10 years ago. We work with big brands, councils, and smaller micro businesses on everything from social media videos to TV ads. We also make short-form narrative content and have won a number of awards for our comedy and horror shorts. We’re focusing on growing that area of the business, which is where the placement came in. We’ve also been teaming up with other creatives in the area to support their narrative projects.

What does it mean to you to be a creative company in the Estuary region? Does it influence the types of projects you work on?

More than 50% of our work is based in the Estuary area, with the rest in London. We’re lucky to have a thriving creative community and rich history here. There’s certainly an appetite for creative work, but there’s a talent drain with people drawn to high-end projects in London. We are seeing a shift, though. In terms of commercial work, there are lots of companies based in the Estuary and that’s only gone up since the pandemic. We’re very happy working in this area and want our narrative projects to be based here for the stories and talent.

Was this your first time hosting a placement in your organisation? What were you hoping to get from it?

We took part in the government Kickstart scheme but found that, because of the constraints of the scheme, the candidate pool was quite narrow. They ended up being more like internships, or work experience. With the EPN Emerging Producer Placement Scheme, we were looking for someone to offer creative input into the project. The application process was done and advertised through the Estuary Producers Network. All the candidates were very strong, and we’d have felt confident offering the role to any of them.

Tell me more about the placement. What did Linda work on?

We hired Linda to be our Producer for a horror short. She worked with us for about 4 months at the pre-production stage. She was able to bring in some of her previous experience from working on larger projects. I can’t fault her! She was extremely organised, brought great ideas, and a lot of initiative. For example, she fed ideas into the character development of the film’s female protagonist. My business partner and I are both male, so this was invaluable.

How were you able to support Linda’s career development?

She was very confident with the organisational and administrative side of things from her work on larger projects. With this being a smaller production, she was able to take on a more senior role and more responsibility across different areas, such as approaching locations and actors. We were able to support her through that aspect and build her confidence.

Did you learn anything from the placement, or gain anything you weren’t expecting?

I’d say we did. The main thing was collaboration. It showed us that, if we take the time to find the right candidate who is talented and motivated, they can be a huge asset to us much sooner. In less than a month, we could see Linda was having a positive influence on the project. It’s also enabled us to be better at offering the right guidelines and direction to people coming into the business.

Do you have plans to work together in the future?

We would have loved to have her with us for longer. She went on to get a job as a Producers Assistant at Tannadice Pictures and supported on the BBC production, The Gold. If the opportunity came up, we’d love to work with her again!

What are you working on currently?

We’re coming to the end of a project called Waste, which we collaborated on with another screenwriter. The short Linda worked on is about to go into production. After that, we plan to make a slightly longer film.

What advice would you give to producers starting their career?

The key is linking up with as many people as possible and building your network. When you come into a project, you’ll need to pull that network together. Attend creative events where you can and get as much experience as possible. You don’t have to be producing, but just get yourself on sets and see how it works.