Paola Malo discusses her journey from The Mill’s runner program to Production Coordinator

Community September 20, 2022

How did you hear about The Mill’s runner program?

Research! After I graduated college, I spent some time working on indie film sets and producing low budget projects on my own and realized I wanted to dive deeper into post production – particularly the Color and VFX side. I took work I gravitated towards and realized most had been projects The Mill or other TCS studios had played a part in. A short dive into the archive, and I felt like a kid in a candy store – I knew I wanted to work there, just needed to know where to start!

What advice would you offer someone who is interested in the runner program? 

Apply! Seriously though, what I loved about the program was the amount of exposure you get to different departments. When you join such a large company it can feel overwhelming, and being a runner gives you the chance to meet people across disciplines – this is something that you need to take advantage of and remember! There’s a great spirit of mentorship at The Mill so the more questions you ask, and the more interest you show, the better those around you can help guide you and expose you to more relevant experiences. You should definitely have goals in mind, but I would also say that it’s important that you remain curious. There’s a lot of collaboration going on so don’t limit yourself to one area from the start – especially if you’re starting out.

Talk us through your new role as a Production Coordinator.

I’m still getting the hang of it! There’s a lot of organizing, pivoting and running interference for projects. As a Coordinator I help Producers keep track of any notes or adjustments that need to be relayed to the rest of the team, spot potential bottlenecks we might need to avoid schedule-wise, and help Lead Artists schedule calls, source assets, and other ad-hoc tasks. It changes a bit every day which makes it exciting but it’s all in the service of helping the team achieve the best work, and making sure we all goals are met according to our timeline.

Did you explore any other departments before choosing to go down the production route?

When I joined I wanted to go into Color or Production, so I definitely had an interest in production from the start – that was what I had had most exposure to after all – but I did also want to explore other departments. I was able to shadow and help on a couple projects on the 2D side while I was a Runner, which was a big eye-opener for me and is still proving to be a huge help in terms of familiarizing myself with The Mill project pipeline from a technical side. It helped me realize what my strengths were so I could start learning skills that I’d use as a Coordinator – I’m incredibly thankful for those who had the patience to teach me and trusted me in the process. And since I’d never worked at a post house this size, I also took the chance to shadow our services department and learn more about how we send out deliveries. It was very important for me to be able to truly understand the life cycle of a project from the moment it comes through our doors until it’s back with the client so learning from our Services team was immensely beneficial too.

How did your time as a runner prepare you for production?

Aside from meeting who I’d be working with well ahead of time, I got exposure to a lot of the programs used in Production as a Runner in terms of project management, costing, vendor set-up, etc. There were a bunch of Front of House tasks that were run through the same platforms in ways that have been useful now so the transition wasn’t as jarring. We also helped with on-site client sessions which I am now doing as a Coordinator from the other side of things so a lot of it feels like coming full circle. From the creative side, the shadow opportunities I had gave me more technical knowledge – I learned how we troubleshoot, collaborate and run at a global level while maintaining a seamless high quality of work – all things that really lend themselves to Production. It revolutionized the way in which I thought of projects coming from a background in smaller, localized work.

What are you most looking forward to in your new position?

I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty with more work! I’d like to get a better sense of how we determine the needs of each project at inception, how we bring the right talent onto each project to make it shine. I’m also excited to help on projects that are a bit more design heavy, or do something with full CG environments, which I’ve never done before. I ultimately do want to continue working on long form projects but I’m excited to change tack for a bit and get challenged with the compressed timeline of advertising. There’s so many balls up in the air at any given moment, that it’s a bit of a mad rush to be in production keeping your eye on everything.

Paola Malo & her pup, Portobella

Discover more about the range of internships and apprenticeships we offer here. Check out openings in our runner program here.