Spotlight | Executive Producer, Michelle Kendrick on joining The Mill, shooting with Motörhead and the key to collaborating with brands successfully

Community December 7, 2020

You’ve been in the industry for over 25 years. Tell us about the journey so far that has led you to The Mill?

It’s been BBH all the way – pretty much!  It all started with a slightly embellished secretarial CV that got me my first job at a direct marketing agency – from there a job came up at Motive, which was the media arm of BBH. I wasn’t totally sure what ‘media’ involved but I knew who BBH were and what they were up to, so I went for it. Once within the BBH group, I managed to secure an admin position in the TV department, then spent 20 years working my way through the department, from assistant producer to production director and then finally managing the film production team.  

Covid suddenly ended my agency journey, but rather than jump back into agency life, I thought I’d take a moment and think about what else might be out there. When I saw the opening at The Mill, I didn’t need to consider it for long. I’ve worked with The Mill for many of my agency years and have always had such a great experience collaborating with them, it’s an exceptional team of people and a world-class brand. I feel very lucky to have moved from a great agency to a great production offering and thankfully this time my CV is without embellishments!

 

What’s been the most exciting thing you’ve worked on? Talk us through some of the highlights of your career so far.

One memorable production was nailing a contract with Motörhead at the 11th hour, literally just days before we got on the plane, then slowing down their iconic ‘Ace of Spades’ track for Kronenbourg. They were a slightly challenging bunch and there were some very tricky moments. However, I can say I have shared a smoke with Lemmy outside an LA sound studio, a moment that I will never forget! 

My very first overseas shoot as a young assistant producer was also a highlight. It was for the mobile network One 2 One and featured Gary Oldman. I was 24 and just so excited to be shooting in LA, we had an awesome crew and we’re staying at Shutters on the Beach & Sunset Marquis. Star spotting the likes of Al Pacino, Robbie Williams, U2 & Marliyn Manson. I loved every minute of the shoot and the film did really well too.

Shoots aside, I think some of my proudest moments have been about the people. Seeing assistant producers evolve into confident, creative and brilliant producers and knowing that I played a small part in helping them on their way, has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the work I’ve done.

If you could revisit a project and do it all over again, what would it be and why?

It would have to be a pasta sauce commercial I produced. My Creative Director ejected the U-matic tape (we’re going back some here) and told me he was, and I quote, “monumentally disappointed”- I’d like another crack at it please!

 

What is the one thing you’ve learned that’s key to working with brands successfully?

Put yourself in their shoes. I believe having empathy for the team you’re working with and insight into the brand you’re creating communication for is essential. This shouldn’t be just down to the strategists, but everyone involved. What is their business about? What are their pressures and problems? What are they trying to achieve, be, or say? You can’t truly help them if you don’t have some understanding of where they’re coming from or where they want to go.   

 

What are you most excited about in your new chapter at The Mill?

In general, a different perspective. This is the same business but just from a different angle to the one I’m used to, so I’m excited to learn. I’m looking forward to helping promote the incredibly varied roster of Mill Direction.  

I’m also hoping I can support the Creative Strategy offering, the landscape of the industry is continuing to evolve, so being at a company that is clearly reacting to the changes and continually adapting is really exciting and the future is sure to be anything but boring.

 

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Ignore your FOMO, it’s only ever downhill after 1 am.

 

Check out the Mill Direction roster here or get in touch with the team via our contact page.

Executive Producer | Michelle Kendrick

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