Featured Expert: Chris Croucher, Television and Film Producer
Chris is a screenwriter and producer, who has worked on several high-profile television series and films including Broadchurch, Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and 28 Weeks Later. From 2013 to 2015, Chris took the reigns as producer on Downton Abbey, winning two National Television Awards for Best Drama, and was nominated for the 2015 & 2016 Primetime Emmy awards for Best Drama. He shares with us his journey in the TV and film industry so far, tips for aspiring producers and filmmakers, and how he sources custom graphics for the projects he’s working on.
You have some awesome experience as a producer and director, how would you describe what you do in your own words?
Funnily enough, this is what I’m asked the most: what does a TV producer actually do? It’s such a hard job to explain, as it can be so broad. If the show was a factory, I guess I would be the general manager.
I oversee the budget, the casting, the scripts, the shooting, the edit. I have to be available to work across everything. Overall, I answer to my executive producers and my aim is to make them a great show, but I also think a large part of my job is supporting and enabling my cast and crew to make the best show they can.
What would you consider to be your first real break in the industry?
Throughout university, I was lucky enough to do work experience on several iconic TV shows — Peep Show, Rosemary & Thyme and Last Of The Summer Wine.
On those shows, I made connections with lots of assistant directors and then got my first paid job as soon as I graduated (the 2004 film Wimbledon with Paul Bethany and Kirsten Dunst). I’d say that was my break, I haven’t stopped working since then.
How have your professional interests and goals changed since your student years?
I spent my university years thinking I wanted to be a writer or director, and continued to do so for my first few years as an assistant director. Then one day I realised that as a producer in TV I would have complete creative input, but also the ability to put to use all the management skills I had gained while being an AD.
I was then extremely lucky to be mentored by Liz Trubridge and Gareth Neame (two of the best) and they entrusted me with their baby: Downton Abbey.
Talk us through some of your proudest moments as a producer
There are so many, it may be cliche but I’m proud every day! I think if I had to single something out it would be Downton, that show was the most amazing experience ever. To produce that as my first show was a treat. I think when we wrapped I was so emotional, so sad and so proud in equal measures.
What have been your biggest fails, but most valuable in terms of development?
I fail everyday, but that’s life and I make sure I learn from that. I learnt a lot when we didn’t get a second season of The Halcyon. I am immensely proud of that show and was very upset when it wasn’t recommissioned. As I say though, you learn from everything and that’s part of the job.
What has your experience been sourcing decent custom graphics for film and television?
You work with the best and you get the best. I’ve been blessed that I’ve worked with some amazing designers who bring with them amazing graphics teams. I believe you’re only as good as the people you employ.
How involved have you been in this process in the past? From the promotional material you need to on set props and post production graphics?
On set graphics – the art department will run stuff and then me or/and the show runners approve. Marketing wise it’s different on every show.
How valuable do you think a community like Artwork Bazaar is for the film industry?
A shared platform of graphic design resources for use in film and TV such as Artwork Bazaar sounds great. Anything that saves time and money is a plus for a producer. Plus – if it helps artists along the way then all the better!
What advice would you give to anyone with ambitions to work in film and TV, whether that’s as a producer or creating film graphics?
Simple – just go for it! The British TV and film business is bigger than it’s ever been, and we need more and more talented people to come and join the madness. So for anyone who’s thinking about it – don’t think about it – just jump in!
What are you working on right now? Any teasers?
I’m making a show called White Lines for Netflix. It’s written by Alex Pina, who was the writer behind Money Heist (aka La Casa De Papel). It’s set in Ibiza — so I can’t complain.
To keep track of all the latest projects Chris is working on, visit chriscroucher.com.