Creative Conversations: Lucy Ball, Creative Producer and Owner of Greenroom FilmsDate: 06 Jun 2019
In partnership with Edinburgh-based photographer Ellie Morag, Creative Conversations is a mini-series born from her love of portraiture, and our desire to provide a platform to share the knowledge and experience of creative locals. In part 3 of the series, we meet Lucy Ball.
Lucy is the former runner, and now Owner and Creative Producer, of Greenroom Films.
On becoming a Creative Producer
I left school at seventeen because I hated it. I hated the construct, the authority and the being talked down to by teachers. So I left, but had enough Highers to go to college. I was really into photography and film, so I phoned up and found out the photography course was full but that there was still a space on the TV Production course. I went in for an interview and got on to the course.
During college, I did a running job for Greenroom Films. I went to the shoot and the next day the production manager at the time called my tutor to say they really liked me and asked if I’d come in and interview as they were looking for a production assistant. The next day I was offered the job. That was in 2009, and since then I’ve been grafting, learning my craft, developing as a person as well as a production professional. Ten years later, I now own the company, and get to make amazing work with amazing people. A bit of a dream, really.
On becoming Owner of Greenroom Films
When I first started in the industry I was given a great piece of advice;
“Whatever you do, make yourself indispensable. Be so ingrained in what you do and how well you do it that they can’t imagine life without you. Make yourself the best you can be.”
That really stuck with me. I’ve always tried my hardest to learn everything, to be better and own what I do. Every time I got to a point where I felt like I was hitting a brick wall I’d give myself a new challenge. I never wanted to feel like my career was stagnant. Before I knew it, I’d worked my way up and sit here with a decade of experience in production.
Naturally, through that time, I’ve experienced a lot, good and bad. Those experiences have shaped who I am today, how I run the company, our ethos, how we produce and how we project ourselves to the world. I believe all these things are fundamental to the success of Greenroom Films thus far.
On creative influences
I think I’ve always been interested in storytelling, but didn’t figure out my form till I was older. My Grampa, John Grant, was an author (amongst other things) who used to write stories called ‘Little Nose’. They were all about this little Neanderthal boy and his sidekick ‘Two-Eyes’, a Woolly Mammoth with one red eye and one green eye. His books were about their adventures and he presented them on Jackanory. He was this amazing storyteller and I grew up with him nurturing me with stories and showing me how fun they could be; I loved it, so I’m sure he had a lot of influence.
I love narrative and the power of narrative. I’ve always written short stories, short scripts and poems. I think that actually I sort of accidentally fell into film; but it is where I was always supposed to be. When I was little I used to love watching the behind the scenes extras parts on DVDs because I loved learning how they made the films. I really have an appreciation for craft, regardless of whether I’m particularly interested in it. Whether that’s a poem or a piece of art, a photograph, a film or a movie; when someone has created something with passion, collaborated with other talented people and put their heart and soul into something, it’s beautiful.
So much of my job as a producer is about bringing the right people on for the right project – it’s easy to fall into the net of working with the same people because you’ve worked with them before. They might be great but maybe not the best person for that project. This is true for the whole production team; the right director, DP, a sound tech who can handle mic-ing up 10 people in three different spaces and an art director to create the perfect set. Then it’s about thinking whether each of these people will work well together on a human level.
“So much of my job is about chemistry - bringing the right creative people together to work collaboratively. “
Another part of my job is seeing talent in people, spotting when they are on the cusp of something and just need the right opportunity.
On balancing the creative and corporate worlds
I’m a very collaborative producer; I have to constantly balance what the director wants to do with what the agency and client wants. That’s the difference between making an incredible piece of film and selling more beans. It’s this constant juggle between art, engaging content and, ultimately, successful advertising that will sell.
There are two circles: the corporate and the creative, and it’s hard to be in the middle of both of them. It’s about knowing when to compromise and when not to, knowing when to really fight for something and knowing when to walk away. It’s a constant juggling act, but our main objective is to create beautiful work.
I think creativity happens in every corner of life and it doesn’t always take the form of something tangible, something ‘artistic’. A single Mum, with a full time job on minimum wage who manages to feed, clothe and house three kids is creative.
I suppose it depends how you, or we as a society, define creativity. We associate creativity with art forms: film, photography, architecture and words. Creativity or being creative means you’re able to think about things differently, in a way that pushes the boundaries or parameters. That can apply to many things and many people, it’s just not glorified or glamorised in the same way.
Edinburgh is home to me. It always has been and always will be regardless of where I end up. I live in Portobello as I love being by the sea, yet I’m only fifteen minutes from the city centre.
Edinburgh is a smaller, slightly less hipster London. It’s also versatile - I love the historic and fairytale-like Old Town, complete with its narrow cobbled roads.
When you do find something you love or that you’re good at, take the time to really craft that skill. Be tenacious, be hungry, be fierce, be kind, be committed, be polite, be humble. You don’t just come out of Uni with a film degree and instantly become an amazing filmmaker. You have to experience life, you have to put in the hours, make coffee for assholes and work sixteen-hour days on an outdoor shoot in winter.
“The juice is worth the squeeze”
Time and experience has allowed me to be confident, creative and capable. Getting to a place where you truly trust yourself, your talent and your judgement is a really empowering feeling. There’s no ‘right’ path and there’s no magic formula; but if you love what you do, work hard at what you do and make a promise to never become complacent, you’ll not go too far wrong.
ABOUT GREENROOM FILMS
ABOUT CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS
Creative Conversations is an innovative, cross art-form series profiling local individuals working within the creative industry. Delivered in partnership with photographer Ellie Morag, an Edinburgh based photographer represented by Crew Scotland. She specialises in lifestyle, street style and portraits. With a style that falls somewhere between documentary and portrait photography, she is inspired by movement, colour & narrative.
Locke aims to bring creative organisations and practitioners, producers and curators into productive conversations, to share their stories and the wide range of experience and expertise amongst them.
Stay tuned for the Creative Conversations exhibition launching 31st July 2019 at Eden Locke, Edinburgh.