VENTS Magazine: Interview with Award Winning Producer Guy Carrington
VENTS MAGAZINE: Today we’re speaking with Guy Carrington, an award-winning live television and event specialist. Over the past 15 years, Guy has become an expert in complex live event coverage and overseen a number of Done + Dusted’s biggest shows, including the Laureus World Sports Awards, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Awards and NBA’s All-Star Saturday Night. He has executed large-scale productions in Europe, Asia and the Americas and in 2012, the London Olympic Committee appointed him as part of an elite team to create and deliver a cross-venue entertainment plan. Most recently, Guy took on the role of executive producer for “Dear Class of 2020” and The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards. With such a wide-array of experience, Guy is a leader in the live event coverage field and we’re excited to share this interview with you.
What did your career journey look like that has brought you to where you are today?
In some ways the signs for what my career path would be showed themselves early. As a kid growing up in the UK, I was obsessed with the live kids TV shows that used to air on a Saturday morning. They were anarchic, funny, had all the coolest celebrities and hosts that me and my friends wanted to emulate. I used to write in to them all of the time (this was a long time before email) to see if I could get on a show and one day my mum got a call, I’d been chosen to appear on a segment called ‘Singing in the Shower’ on my favorite show – The Wide Awake Club. I got whisked off to London, escorted into the live studio for rehearsals and then appeared singing in a virtual shower live on national TV. As a 9 year old it made a big impression and that stayed with me as I grew up, the TV industry was where I wanted to work so when it came time to look at internships straight out of university my first port of call was Saturday morning TV. A big show called SM:TV turned out to be where I really learnt what it takes to make entertaining experiences for people, and also the place where I got to experience all the different facets of program making – we were on air every Saturday for 52 weeks of the year so you had to adaptable and flexible.
This then took me onto my first job with Done + Dusted and into the world of major events, specials and experiences. Now, I’m one of the 7 business partners and work in our LA office overseeing a number of high profile shows and also the development of new projects alongside our stellar team of creatives.
How do you see your role in live television / event production — do you see it as more artistic, technical, or as a mix of both? And do you find that there is room for your personal touch on a project?
It’s definitely a mix of both, all projects require different skills at different points in the production. There is always the need for collaboration though. The exciting thing for me running a production is the vast array of artistic and technical people I get to collaborate with and share knowledge. It sounds cliche, but you are always learning. Whether that’s new tech, new trends or new talent, it’s exciting to explore all of the areas making a production cover. And there is always room for a personal touch – an idea, a line of script, a design choice – some of which make the shows and some of which don’t. The key is creating an environment where everyone feels they can have a say, voice an option and share ideas because collaborating with creative people is one the best things about the job I do.
How has your background informed your success in live television / event production in this era of high quality television?
My parents have been a huge influence, particularly encouraging all of my more creative endeavors. My mum would make me outfits for school plays, she escorted me to the studio for my big Wide Awake Club and neither of them got too annoyed when I was putting on an impromptu performance for them and their friends.
They were really supportive of my career choice, particularly early on when things were tough. I’d moved to London, the freelance world was scary straight out of university and consistent work wasn’t guaranteed. They believed in my aspirations and my belief that I could make a career in production and I’ll forever thank them for that.
What has your role producing the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards taught you about yourself, or about life?
Be prepared! The 72nd Emmys was probably the most complicated show I’ve ever worked on and we had to be totally buttoned up on every possible eventuality going into the live show as we didn’t truly know what to expect. At the time we were in unchartered territory when it comes to high profile virtual award shows and so the preparation, testing and contingency planning had to be immaculate. The team that worked on that show was absolutely fantastic and the work that everyone put in to ensure the 3 hour broadcast was of such a high standard was impeccable.
When you are assigned a new project, what is the first step in your process?
Work out what story we’re telling. Everything has a story. Whether it’s a major awards ceremony, a gaming event or a music special you have to get to the root of the narrative because the story is the backbone of every production.
Who is your dream director or creative to work with?
There isn’t anyone I can single out as a dream collaborator, I just want to continue working with people that test me and teach me. Production is all about collaboration and over the course of my career I’ve worked with some incredible creatives, a lot of whom I still work with today because they’re talented and we have fun creating the shows we make. I hope that continues and I hope that I get to work with more people who are inspired to innovate, to push the limits and who want to have fun doing it.
What 1 sentence of advice would you give to aspiring live television / event professionals?
Preparation is key. Live events and broadcasts can be unpredictable, you can only be reactive and make clear decisions if you’ve thought everything through in advance. Think about the things that could happen, the things that could go wrong and have a clear plan for how you would deal with them.