Spotlight On… Angle on Producers’ Carolina Groppa!

producer Carolina Groppa (Miss Virginia, Autism in Love)

Angle on Producers is a weekly podcast which shines a light on producers from all corners of the entertainment industry. Recent guests include Eva Longoria (John Wick), Lynette Howard-Taylor (A Star is Born), DeMane Davis (Queen Sugar), and Jermaine Johnson, manager of 3 Arts Entertainment (Parks and Recreation, Everybody Hates Chris, The Mindy Project).

Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube, tune into the show for in-depth conversations on the many facets of producing, and a window into the life and experiences of working producers.

So, what kinds of people are “born producers”? What are they about?

“It’s really people who thrive in chaos. It’s people who are entrepreneurial in spirit and they love to learn. They see a challenge and they run towards it. They say, ‘I don’t know the answer, but I’m going to find out.'”

In your opinion, do men have a better chance of succeeding as producers than women?

“I feel like it depends on the personality of each person. If you have a man and a woman who are wired very similarly, I’d say they have equal shot, but you could have a man who isn’t as audacious about it as tenacious as maybe the woman, and then you could make that example. So, to me, it’s not necessarily about the gender. It’s got to be about the drive and the hustle of the individual. …

While I thankfully never dealt with some of the horrors that a lot of women dealt with coming out of the Me Too Movement, I certainly had my share of men calling me ‘sweetie’ and… treating me like I was a little girl instead of seeing me as their superior when I was, in fact, their boss.”

Do women producers need to handle themselves differently than men?

“I don’t think you need to shy away from your femininity…. It’s not about overcompensating and being… [an] overly masculine version of yourself…. I’ve definitely met some women who feel like they need to be that way. And it works for them, sure. But I don’t subscribe to that approach. I think you need to be authentically who you are, but yes, you do have to get tough skin. And that doesn’t mean you’re not impacted or affected by what happens, but you understand that ultimately, it really isn’t about you, and you can kind of start to have better tools to navigate what is inherently a very emotional experience.”

Ha! You just described production as “a very emotional experience.” Could you elaborate?

“You know, it’s [called] ‘showbiz,’ [but really] it’s like it’s ‘show emotion.’ It’s like there’s so much emotion involved, left and right, and half the job is just managing hundreds of people who are all feeling different things at different times, some who can actually vocalize it, some who can’t. And just really being able to herd cats and just keep everybody focused to get things [done]… that’s like no different, I think, than what I imagine being a mother would be like, if you had a bunch of kids rolling around. ‘All right, guys, it’s snack time. Clearly, you’re cranky because you haven’t had your snack. Let me go to craft services and get you some carrot sticks.’”

When it comes to hiring production assistants, who do you hire, and who gets called back on subsequent productions?

“They’re the ones that always volunteered to do the thing that nobody else wants to do. They’re the first person to respond on a walkie…. I remember that one person who was just ‘down’ and had a good attitude and did what needed to get done. And a lot of the people that have come up that I’ve hired, that I’ve now trained to be coordinators are those people. They have a really good attitude and they just get it. It’s like, ‘Yeah, doing some of this sucks, but it’s a necessary evil,’ because if you’re going to rise up [in the industry], you have to go through, and I speak, particularly, for producers, right? If you’re coming up through the physical side… you have to know every rung of that ladder, so when you’re running the show [you] know how long it takes because… [you’ve] literally done it.

And the other thing I always say is: You are an extension of the production team. So, when you are my office PA or my set PA, everything you do reflects back on me. So, if you forget a receipt, that’s not a big deal, but then it is down the line when I would have to go to accounting and be like, ‘Oh, we don’t have that.’ And if it’s a receipt that could become an outlier, it’s a big deal. Now, I have to tell my financiers, ‘I don’t have a receipt because my PA didn’t get it.’ And it’s a silly example, but it’s treating every aspect of the task, no matter how small, with utmost respect and that whether it’s getting a receipt, or driving an actor, or making a budget, like all of that is of equal importance, even if it feels tiny, tiny, tiny.

And if you have that work ethic, you’re going to shoot up to the stars because the people that are like that are the ones that are wired for it.”

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