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Production Manager Case Study : Jasmine Sandalli

A case study provided by Jasmine Sandalli, a Production Manager listed on Mandy Theatre Professionals UK.

To learn more about Jasmine Sandalli you can view their full CV here.

Question 1: What is the most rewarding aspect of working as a Production Manager?
Seeing a production through, right from the initial concept to the press night, and being instrumental in realising the ideas of the creative team. No matter how many shows I've done, there's always a moment during the previews when I look at a set and think "That was just a modelbox a few weeks ago" and I can't quite work out how that happened. It's a bit magic.
Question 2: What are the key skills required to be an effective Production Manager?
Different production managers work in different ways, so you'll probably have a huge range of answers to this question. In my opinion, you have to be empirical - examine all the possibilities, evaluate what works best, be thorough in your groundwork. Communicate clearly and unambiguously, and be honest; if you're not entirely sure of the answer for something, don't be afraid to say "I don't know, but I'll find out". Plus of course patience, diplomacy, stamina, courage and the ability to survive on vending machine food helps.
Question 3: Do you see your role as a natural step on a career ladder, and if so what is the next rung?
I've always wanted to be a production manager but it took me a while to work out that being a freelancer working on shows alone isn't for me. I want to run my own production department one day; I love being part of a building that makes shows and the challenges that come with it as well as the shows themselves.
Question 4: How did you work your way into your current role?
I went to Rose Bruford College to study Stage Management, and put myself forward to production manage as many of the student shows as possible, as well as getting involved in as many fringe and unpaid PM jobs outside of college as I could manage. Almost immediately after I left I started at the Lyric Hammersmith as Assistant Production Manager, and ended up spending 4 years there. I then left the Lyric to do a 3-month stint as a APM at the National and I've been here ever since - that was three and a half years ago. I'm currently working on some of the larger technical projects for the NT rather than shows, and freelance as a PM on the side.
Question 5: How much do you think networking helps towards landing a job in the industry?
Hugely so. It's the worst thing about the job for me because I'm terrible at networking, but the fact remains that you get work through recommendation and word of mouth, or through people knowing you. That's why it pays to do the occasional low-paid or expenses-only job because you never know what the contacts could be worth.
Question 6: Do you think you will be working in the industry in the next five years, and if so in what capacity?
Definitely, as long as it will still have me! I'd like to think that in 5 years I'd be on the way to running my own production department but that's probably a little ambitious.
Question 7: Please describe what a typical day working as a Production Manager might contain?
Always start by checking in on the rehearsal notes and emails to see if there's anything that needs actioning first thing. And that's pretty much the only constant - one of the things I love about his job is the variety of each day. One minute you're arguing with B&Q over a hardware order, next you're learning how to make a person disappear (sometimes useful when you're arguing with B&Q).
Question 8: Have you done any additional training courses to further your career?
I have done a First Aid course, but mostly taught myself other skills as and when I've needed to learn them. I'm a bit rubbish at making time for training but it's very important, particularly with the speed that technology moves these days.
Question 9: How important is working for free at the beginning of your career?
See question 5 - particularly if you're studying or have access to financial support so you're not relying on payment from jobs to pay the rent, it's so worth it. You never know where your next job contact is going to come from.