Meet the Team – Devan Vimal
What first attracted you to production – and has it been an industry you’ve always worked on or did you come to it from another area?
Like most people in the industry, I started out as a runner, and moved into an edit assistant role with the hopes of becoming an offline editor. After five years as an edit assistant and doing a few small editing jobs, I realised that I quite liked the idea of a more people facing role and decided to use my technical knowledge as a bridge between the facility and the clients as a post producer.
Problem solving was also what attracted me to post producing and having a technical background has certainly helped. Coming up with outside-of-the-box solutions for some of the many challenges faced in post production is rewarding, and that is usually how post producers get a chance to show their creative flair!
What was your first role in the production world and how did this experience influence how you think about production and how you grew your career?
My first post producer role was at a post house that worked on every type of TV show you could think of; from cooking shows to film trailers, and we looked after everything from offline to deliverables.
The experience and exposure I gained from working across varying workflows gave me the knowledge to decide which avenue to pursue.
I was drawn to the drama post process as I enjoyed how much more in-depth my involvement was on these types of projects… and you have more of a chance of getting a credit 😉
How did you learn to be a producer?
I gained a technical background from my years as an edit assistant which was the perfect foundation to build on, but learning the rest had to be done on the job.
The beauty of working in a post house is that I’ve always been surrounded by incredibly talented and knowledgeable people. I’ve been able to fill in the gaps of my knowledge by spending time with people who know a lot more than I do!
What’s your favourite thing about production and why?
When a job finishes! 😉
It’s always a pleasure to see all the hard work you and everyone else you’ve worked with make it to screen.
What do you think is the key to being an effective producer – and is it something that’s innate or something that can be learned?
It’s a bit of both!
There’s obviously a great deal of specific knowledge about the post production process that needs to be learnt first and foremost e.g file formats, standards, frame rates, kit, workflows etc, but I’ve always felt that one of the key things to being a successful producer is to care!
It sounds simple, but if you care about the project you’re working on, and your clients and colleagues, it’s inevitable that you’ll put your heart into the project and make sure you’ve done everything you can to get it through the finishing line.
Which production project from across your career are you most proud of and why?
This is a hard one to answer as I’ve worked on a lot of projects which I’m really proud of. Being a fanboy of Danny Boyle and Edgar Wright, I was thrilled about working on Pistol and The Sparks Brothers.
That said, I’m proudest of my involvement on The Wheel of Time for Amazon Prime.
Having worked my way up from looking after daytime TV at the start of my career (not that there’s anything wrong with that) I’ve made steps towards reaching my career goals of working on big budget scripted drama, and The Wheel of Time is as big as they come.
This project was Amazon’s flagship series for that time, with a global release date, heaps of VFX shots, a creative team split across time zones, and die hard fans of the book chomping at the bit for the release. It was by far the biggest show I had worked on at that stage of my career and I’m pleased to say that we successfully delivered it (relatively) pain free! Oh and that was all during the pandemic!
Producers always have the best stories. What’s the hairiest / most insane situation you’ve found yourself in and how did you work your way out of it?
There’s one that springs to mind!
At the start of my post producing career I worked on a factual documentary series which had a lot of inherent legal issues to contend with.
We found out at midday on the day of TX that there needed to be another last minute legal change to the episode made in time before the 9pm air time.
I remember the owner of the production company ringing me during the midst of the madness, saying something along the lines of “if you don’t deliver, you’ll never work in this town again..”.
We had no choice but to pull a team of people off what they were doing and drive through a conform, online fixes, lay back to tape, and a QC, before getting a runner to hand deliver the tape to the broadcaster moments before air time!
I’d never clenched so hard in my life, but we made it!
As a producer your brain must have a neverending “to do” list. How do you switch off? What do you do to relax?
As a post producer it’s too easy to mull over your to-do list and dilemmas after work but to maintain a healthy mind it’s so important to switch off once your work day is done.
Exercise helps me unwind. Like a lot of people I got into running during lockdown and would like to one day run a marathon.
I’ve also found a love for mountains, whether skiing down them or hiking up them!
I recently trekked up to Everest Base Camp and am looking to do more of this kind of expedition in the future.
On a more day to day basis I often relax by watching TV and films, hanging out with friends or playing with my cat, Pablo!
What advice would you give to people who are interested in becoming a producer?
I would recommend ‘sitting in’ with the post producers as much as possible, but also getting to understand all departments across the facility as post producers need to navigate projects and clients through every department.
Whether it’s how clients are greeted at reception, how drives come in and get logged, how the grade feeds the online, what the audio team need for mixing, or the QC process, we need to understand each and every stage in order to effectively guide a project through to delivery and the best way to do that is to learn from the experts themselves!
What’s the key to a successful production-client relationship?
In my opinion it starts with building trust and that’s usually done with being as competent and true to your word as possible.
If I promise a client something by a certain time I will always try to do my utmost to make sure that promise is delivered, and if not explain why before being chased!
Once that bedrock of trust is established, the relationship usually follows!