Always Thinking Five Steps Ahead: Danielle Watchman, David&Goliath

by Dasha Ovsyannikova

Danielle Watchman
Senior Producer David&Goliath
David&Goliath
Full Service
El Segundo, United States
See Profile
 

What is the role of a TV/video producer?

Your role as a producer is to lead creative production from start to finish. Working closely with your creative, account, business affairs, and client teams, you lead the entire production process with a focus on delivering the best creative product within the time and budget. This includes a range of responsibilities that are both logistical, like planning, schedule, budget, and general workflow, to more creative responsibilities such as providing input and options for directors, other vendor selections that best fit the creative, as well as creative solutions when roadblocks pop up.

 

Tell us about your background and what led you to where you are today?

I’ve always loved film. Over the holidays, I’ve been known to see 10-12 movies over the course of a week and have an opinion about every Oscar contender. I was particularly intrigued with editing and what an impact it could have on storytelling, so when I was in college, I taught myself Final Cut and started working at our TV station on campus, writing and producing shows. From there, I dabbled in being a PA at a production company and ultimately realized I enjoy the agency side of commercial production because I can follow a project from inception and creative development through to the final product. I love being a part of every stage of the process.

 

What sort of qualifications and experience do you need?

Being an agency producer is a unique role that requires a mix of both highly organized, detail-oriented abilities, along with a deep understanding of interpersonal and communication skills. It’s one of those careers where I think on-the-job experience matters more than anything, so while a degree and the general skills you gain in college are helpful, I’ve found my experiences working in the field much more valuable. By starting from the bottom and working your way up, you gain the necessary insight into all the main qualifications of the job such as schedule and budget management, deep knowledge of vendors, creative collaboration, thorough communication skills, understanding of talent and legal necessities, and generally the ability to think on your feet and remain calm under pressure.

 

What are some different ways you can improve and advance in your career?

I’ve always found that variance in projects and the type of products/clients I’ve worked on has helped me personally. As a producer, no project is the same as the last, and with every new experience that challenges you to learn and grow on the job, the better equipped you are to move up in your career. So, the more you can task yourself with differing projects, mediums, vendors, and in turn, meet more people in the field, the better positioned you are to improve and advance. Also, I can’t say enough about solid mentorship or just finding a more senior producer who is willing to share their insights. I’ve been lucky enough to have that at David&Goliath, and it makes a world of difference.

 

What is the most useful advice you received from a fellow producer?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s easy to be intimidated by a field where there isn’t a blueprint for the job or career path, but once you get comfortable asking question after question and treat every project as an opportunity to improve and learn, I think you’ll find that those are the producers who really excel.

 

When looking at a new project’s script, what usually draws your attention?

Anything that looks expensive, kidding. Usually, my attention is drawn to anything new I haven’t done before, which happens on most projects. This could be anything from wrangling a peacock on-set to synchronizing a light display to a popular holiday song using car headlights and Christmas lights. As a producer, you always want to be thinking five steps ahead to anticipate the challenges, and it always takes some ingenuity. Something new to me just means the fun is about to begin, and I get to roll up my sleeves and figure it out.

 

Is there anything you have coming up we should keep our eyes open for?

I’m in the early stages of a new campaign in a category I haven’t worked on in a few years, I’m excited to get back into it with this smart, fun group.

 

How has the pandemic affected your work?

A lot. We’ve been working from home since March like most, and virtually everything is remote workflow, which is completely new. Aside from missing my coworkers, we have a very close familial group at David&Goliath; it’s become a whole different production world of remote shoots, record & mix, color, and VFX sessions, which is entirely new to this pandemic age of producing. I’ve been extremely impressed with how quickly we were able to shift to a remote work environment, and amazingly, we’ve been churning out the same amount, if not more, work this year.