A Day In The Life Of... A Director of Digital Production at Entertainment One
Name: Tom Hartley
Company: Entertainment One, Family & Brands
Job Title: Director - Digital Production
Uni and/or college/school subjects: Politics & Social Policy
What’s your morning routine like?
I usually get up at 5:45 to go the gym... When I write it down sounds hideous, but it’s actually great. Gets me super pumped for a day of making kickass videos for kids. Out the door by 7:45.
How do you commute to work and fill your time?
My commute is a short train and then a tube into central London. I can get to work in around 30 minutes door to door if I time it right, which is normally a good amount of time for me to look over my meetings for the day and get my brain into gear.
What does the average day look like for you?
There really is no average day, which is one of the things I love most about my work. It’s a really varied job that encompasses some amazing creative elements along with strategic decision making based on data and analytics. In any one day I can be doing anything from building out content strategy, analysing data such as trends and performance, feeding back on scripts, meeting with our partners and licensees, sourcing and negotiating with suppliers… All the way to directing on set, and even making tea for the talent!
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
Without a doubt the people I get to work with. Not just my amazing and inspiring colleagues at eOne, but also the hugely passionate and creative people I get to meet and work with, both companies and freelancers around the world.
There’s something really special about working with people on creating kids’ content, and the relationships you build in that process are second to none.
What is your least favourite part of your role?
Any job which involves creativity can be difficult when your team pours their heart into a project and it either doesn’t deliver the results you want or it’s poorly received.
At the start of my career I took these things quite personally, especially if it was an idea I’d generated myself or really believed in, but you do develop a thick skin very quickly! Now I see failures as an opportunity to learn and improve, both personally and in terms of the content I produce.
If money was no object what would you be?
Professional sunbather and beer drinker.
What was your favourite thing about uni? (or 6th form)
The lack of contact hours. I had 4 hours of teaching a week and basically just sloped off the whole time to play in a band.
How’d your degree help you in your current role?
I’d love to say that my degree helps me day to day, but I don’t think it does. But, it’s really shaped my life as a whole. I did a degree I didn’t really care about, because I thought I should do something academic. I even worked in politics when I left uni… before I realised I needed to do something more creative. Without that realisation that you have to follow your heart, I wouldn’t have ended up doing something I love.
How did you get into Digital Production?
I took an internship at a kids’ content distributor where I was basically employed to make tea and edit presentations. When the company grew, our MD wanted us to make our own content. I was the most qualified in the office, not because I knew anything about making videos, but because I’d played in a band so they took a punt on the fact that I might have some creativity in me. We grew that team from just me to over 30 people in 4 years.
Since the early days, I’ve made a conscious effort to move away from the frontlines of production and more into strategy and management - where you get to be a part of the creative process, but also to form and shape strategies that that have a real impact on businesses. It’s pretty cool to see plans you’ve formulated pay off.
What advice would you give to students?
Find purpose, and have fun! Find what makes you tick, and pursue it to the end of the world.
Where did you work before this?
I worked at a kids’ producer and distributor, then at a marketing agency making social content and marketing films.
What’s your advice to anyone wanting to be a Director?
My role is in such a niche industry… So broadening that out: if you want to be a content producer then take every opportunity, both professionally and in your down time, to work on it. The more you do it, the more you’ll learn about how to make amazing content. And watch A LOT of stuff.
What time do you normally leave work, and what do you do to wind down after a long day?
It depends on the day. Normally around 6ish, or later if I’ve been on set and we’re tidying up. How do I wind down after a long day of making kids' videos? I watch anything but kids' videos. And drink a lot of tea.