Meet your makers: Janas Lau on her background in advertising and why exceeding client expectations is important

Freedman International’s Producer talks about her love for working on different campaigns and exceeding client expectations.

Janas started her career as a production assistant in a 3D animation company and has had many different roles in the advertising industry since. She shares the most interesting projects she’s worked on across her career and what advice she’d give to someone wishing to become a producer.

 

What first attracted you to production – and has it been an industry you’ve always worked in or did you come to it from another area? What was your first role in the production world and how did this experience influence how you think about production and how you grew your career?

I loved watching movies when I was in secondary school and dreamed about working in the video production industry. My first role was as a production assistant in a 3D animation production company. Since then, I’ve been working in different roles in the advertising industry, from casting coordinator, editor, post production producer and shoot producer to creative agency producer in Hong Kong, before I studied my master’s degree in book illustration in London 4 years ago. 

 

How did you learn to be a producer?

I feel blessed that most of the teammates and the external partners I worked with are very nice people who love to share their experience and knowledge. As a producer, that’s how I learnt bit by bit.

 

Looking back to the beginning of your career, can you tell us about a production you were involved in where you really had to dig deep and that really helped you to grow as a producer?

Not a particular production, but I think working in different roles over the years has given me a good understanding of the difficulties/constraints at each stage of video production and helped to avoid unreasonable requests for my teammates or external partners.

 

What’s your favourite thing about production and why?

I love turning something from idea/storyboard into motion images…and the collaboration  between the client and the creatives. 

 

How has production changed since you started your career?

Everything was still shot on film at the time I started. After digital production took over, video shoots became more flexible, but sometimes I think it loses the authenticity as a lot of things depend on CG/3D graphics. 

 

And what has stayed the same?

Long working hours and tight schedules…

 

What do you think is the key to being an effective producer – and is it something that’s innate or something that can be learned?

Different producers have different working styles based on their personalities. Effective to me means solving problems as early as possible, delivering work on time and meeting or exceeding client expectations. 

 

Which production project from across your career are you most proud of and why?

Pantane hair shoot in Bangkok. The client sent us a reference video of a hair shot that required advanced camera equipment to shoot. We didn’t have the budget for that project. After the production team did many rounds of tests for the hair shoot using Alexa camera, we achieved something similar like the reference video. The ideas from the creative team and the effort of the director and shoot team really brought this shoot together. Love that kind of team spirit to create something together! 

 

And in terms of recent work, which projects have you found to be particularly exciting or have presented particularly interesting production challenges? 

I enjoyed my time as a Digital Intermediate Producer for feature films and got to work with different film directors and cinematographers. The expectations from the team in feature films was quite different from the team in advertising. 

 

Producers always have the best stories. What’s the hairiest / most insane situation you’ve found yourself in and how did you work your way out of it?

Shooting 30 hours non-stop outdoors and in a studio for KFC. 

 

What are your personal ambitions or aspirations as a producer?

Nothing big… I always enjoy working with people with different working styles and building trust with every team member to make each production better and smoother. 

 

As a producer your brain must have a neverending “to do” list. How do you switch off? 

I usually draw during my off-work hours and brain-storming what to draw helps me to relax.

 

Producers are problem solvers. What personally fuels your curiosity and drive?

Never stop digging out something good and interesting, not just confined to tv commercials but could be from movies, art, installation, architecture etc. 

 

What advice would you give to people who are interested in becoming a producer?

I’d say it’s probably best to try different roles and figure out whether you’re more interested in creating or problem solving. 

 

From your experience what are the ingredients for a successful production?

Creative ideas, client support, staying within budget, good communication within your production team and mutual trust and understanding.

 

What’s the key to a successful production-client relationship?

Try to find out as much as possible from a client about their project as they’re the one who knows their brand the best. However, don’t be afraid to suggest something innovative as it might turn out to be a solution that works surprisingly well. Make sure those innovative ideas are achievable before suggesting them!

 

This article was originally published on LBBO