Paula Crickard Of HaZimation On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in TV and Film
You don’t know what you are doing, so listen to those who do and take the time to learn your craft. I was such a “know it all” that it took me twice as long to learn anything.
As a part of our series about creating a successful career in TV and Film, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Paula Crickard.
Paula has produced several award-winning feature dramas and documentaries for release on multiple platforms including BIFA-nominated Winter (2015) and break-out indie sci-fi hit The Beyond (2018). Other producer credits include Everton Howard’s Way (2019), Mission of Honor (2018), XV Beyond the Tryline (2016) and Calloused Hands (2013).
Paula’s other hat is post-production supervising and recently joined Nu Boyana UK to run the UK post operations for Millennium Media productions. Other post-supervising credits include Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018) and DI producer on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016).
Paula is passionate about storytelling, working with new technologies and collaborating with interesting people.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles,” where soldiers regularly patrolled the streets in tanks, explosions and gun attacks were frequent. We were a big Irish Catholic family in a very Protestant town, and I was often the victim of sectarian aggression. As a result, my mother encouraged me to process this toxic environment through art, music and literature.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always wanted to change the world, and as a child, I escaped through movies and cartoons. I started working in documentary filmmaking with a grassroots production company called Northern Visions and then moved into drama. I worked with Killer Films in New York as a mid-career intern and then later in material acquisitions with Wild Bunch Sales, where Ghibli Studios was a client. I loved that job.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I was Post Super on Terry Gilliam’s famous The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. We were in Brussels for the sound mix, when Terry Gilliam, Ray Cooper (the world-famous drummer) and Andre Jaquemin the sound designer had finished late and found a little tavern to have some food. A young man with a severe disability affecting his arms played a makeshift drum set on the table next to us, using glasses, plates, a plastic cup and chopsticks. We all were in awe, especially Ray Cooper, who understood better than anyone, just how incredible this young man was. This guy had transcended his daily hardships through music, and I related to that — all of us did.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I once misread an acquisition offer and thought the revenue split was 70/30 in favour of the producers. I raised money on that belief, and when we were about the sign the contract, I realized it was 70/30 in favour of the sales agent! I was already deep in prep for the film and spent several sleepless weeks terrified the investors would pull out. It all worked out in the end, but the lesson was to always double-check everything with at least one other person. It also helped develop my nerves of steel!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am very excited about an animation feature film that HaZimation is just about to start, though I’m not sure I can mention the title yet. I’ve also just finished doing my last post-production supervising job, which is Expendables 4, so I’m throwing that career hat out with a massive bang!
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Be true to yourself and be kind. This is a collaborative industry, and it’s much better if you treat people with respect. Do the best you can do, so that whatever happens to the movie, you can be proud of your part. Love what you do.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
There are so many reasons this matter. I think it’s much easier for me to say that without diversity of colour, gender, social economics, religion and nationality, we will never be free of the systemic racism, misogyny and bigotry that is destroying our societies. The rich-poor divide will grow even more. Equality must be for everyone; there is no middle ground on that. When there is a human rights conflict, we have to be kind to each other and work together.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- You don’t know what you are doing, so listen to those who do and take the time to learn your craft. I was such a “know it all” that it took me twice as long to learn anything.
- If you can, spend a little time in every role, and find out what you enjoy most. I had no idea how much I loved post-production until I did it.
- Be nice to people — if you are around the industry long enough, the runners will become the producers!
- Women have technical brains, too! Several times, I built a post-production facility when in a colour grade with a new client. If there were a male runner in the room with me, they would direct their technical questions to the runner. I started feeling very sorry for those men who missed getting quick, accurate answers, simply through their own sexism.
- If you have the vocation to work in film, then you will. I tried to do different jobs over the years, well-paying jobs, but film and animation always pulled me back in. Thankfully!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Spend time with family and friends so you always have family and friends to spend time with.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Whenever you come across an opportunity to do something good for someone else, just do it. If you see some litter on the ground, pick it up. You have a choice between paying yourself more or paying your crew properly, pay your crew. Make the right choices, no matter how easy the wrong ones are!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Marilyn Hyndman was a producer in Northern Ireland who produced the first two documentaries I directed. She was super smart, funny, kind and supportive. She gave me a chance and believed in me.
And of course, HaZ; working with him is really inspiring and motivating. I have been very lucky.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s an old one, but, “This too shall pass” is definitely my mantra. Nothing either good or bad lasts for long. I have had lots of amazing and terrible things happen. Looking back at those times when I was really struggling, I got through them. Time passed, and I found new opportunities.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I think that Sarah Cone is doing some really interesting stuff, and Anne Boden of Starling Bank in the UK is awesome, too!
How can our readers follow you online?
Absolutely! I mostly use LinkedIn and, sometimes Twitter, but they will never see my lunch or dinner — it’s all work, work, work!
Thank you so much for joining us.
My absolute pleasure!
Paula Crickard of HaZimation on The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in TV… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.