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How this Assistant Producer went from pulling pints to working in film

A D&AD Shift graduate tells us how she got her start in production

Image of still from "I am What I am" by Lucky Generals for Virgin Atlantic

25-year-old Phoebe Langley Gussin has been an Assistant Producer at creative media company Lucky Generals for a year, and has already worked on projects with brands like Amazon, Flora and Virgin Atlantic. Here, she tells us how she went from pulling pints at a pub to producing, the importance of being a people-person, and how D&AD's Shift Programme helped her land an internship that led to her current job. 

What was your route into the industry?

We did this speed networking thing during the D&AD Shift programme, where we went to agencies and quickly got to know people from different departments. I spoke to the Head of Creative Services at Lucky Generals, and we just really clicked and she was like, “I feel like you could fit in here.” So I got a six-month contract as an intern, and worked my way around the departments. I worked in strategy, in the art department, with an editor doing some editing, and then found myself in TV production, which I just really loved. I've been working as an assistant producer for about a year and have worked on some really big campaigns, which has been amazing. The first one I did was a Virgin Atlantic campaign called "I am What I am". It was a bit of a baptism of fire, but in a good way because I learned so much.

You were part of D&AD’s Shift Program, can you tell us a bit about your experience?

Honestly, when I applied, I hadn't heard of the programme before, I think I just happened to see it on Instagram. I didn't know anyone who'd done it before. I was in this empty space in terms of my career, and I've never been to uni, so I was constantly looking for free courses or things to benefit my creative career more. I actually like writing applications, so I just went for it. We had such a great group, and everyone had really different skills. I came out of Shift a lot more confident in myself. During Shift I was told, “If you’re going to say you’re a filmmaker, own it.” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m just going to own that I’m a creative.”

Image of still from "I am What I am" by Lucky Generals for Virgin Atlantic

You’re a filmmaker. Are you self-taught?

I can't even claim that title anymore, because I've been out of the game for so long, and I wouldn't take credit for being self taught. I think I've reaped the benefits of living in London, and of being around so much creativity at my doorstep. I didn't go to uni, but I studied film and TV broadcasting in college (sixth form, 16-18), where I learned the basics. I was a runner for a while on features and things like that, so I also learned on the job quite quickly. I was also involved with the Roundhouse in Camden, a performing arts venue and an incredible place. They’re an incredible group of people who encourage young people to get into the creative industries and their classes are all free, and you can learn from really amazing people. I did a free course with them where I learned more about film and TV.

How did you get your first job as a runner?

I worked in a pub for five years as a barmaid. One of the regulars who would drink in the pub works in the media. I was chatting to him about how I wanted to work in TV and film, and he got me a job on a commercial that he was shooting. That was my first running job, and it went so badly. My job was to get everyone on set coffee and lunch and I got lunch for a crew of thirty people and forgot cutlery. That was something I'll never forget. With production, you just learn on the job and anyone can do it.

Has anyone helped you on your career journey so far, if so who?

Emma Fasson has taught me everything I know, she’s the Deputy Head of Film at Lucky Generals, and she’s been extremely patient with me. Apart from hard skills, she taught me to just be kind, because it makes the job easier for everyone if you are. Henry Blake, a director who I met through the Roundhouse, also taught me a lot and was the person who basically introduced me into production and told me I’d be stupid not to learn to be a producer.

Image of still from "Joy is Made" by Lucky Generals for Amazon

What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced on your career journey?

To be honest, I feel like I’ve been very lucky with my career and my parents have also always been very supportive and accepting of what I wanted to do. But, school wasn’t great for me. I was surrounded by teachers who weren’t encouraging, and I think I was part of a generation where things like internships and apprenticeships weren't really on the cards. It was just university. So at that point, I didn't really see a way out because I was never great at school. Hopefully, that's changed a little more but I wouldn't change my experience because I think I had to go through those hard times to get to where I am now.


Can you tell us a bit about the projects you're working on?

We just did a campaign for the spread brand Flora, and created films for 11 different territories. We shot in Istanbul, and we were there for ten days. Even though we were just in the studio the whole day it was still an amazing experience to go away with work, because I've dreamt of doing that for so long. I did an Amazon Christmas ad "Joy is Made" before that. I don’t know what I’m working on next.

What advice do you have for someone trying to break into the creative industry?

I'm so early in my career, I feel like I'm still not in a position to give anyone advice, but I guess just figure out what you like and figure out what you’re good at. Also, take every opportunity you can. Learning on the job is the best thing you can do. 

You can reach out to Phoebe Langley Gussin on Instagram

Meet more rising creative talent including photographers, motion designers, illustrators and visual artists.

D&AD Shift with Google is a free, industry-led night school programme for new creatives. If you are over 18 and don't have a degree-level qualification, Shift is for you.

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