Ahead of the MVWorks project selection day, we spoke to Marie McPartlin to find out what it’s like to be a producer and the relationships you build when working with artists. She talks about the best sides of her role, as well as the not-so-shiny side of arts delivery.
What would you say a producer brings to the creative process? Are there different types or styles of creative producer?
Producing is a broad field, but most of my work has been live with some installation work, and focused on projects and artists not easily defined by form. In this context a producer can be delivery focused, bringing all logistical elements of a project into being, or working on the development of a particular artist (or several artists more commonly), helping them strategically with the progression of their practice.
I’m a combination of the two, with a fair bit of programming and curation mixed in, and often a lot of blurred lines around where those things begin and end. I’ve rarely produced things where I haven’t been involved in the initial creative idea in some way, and have often been the person commissioning and funding the project at the same time, though that’s probably quite unusual. A good producer of any variety will bring a strong critical voice to the table. And I’d add, have an eye for the audience, especially when the end result involves having something you need to sell.
Best bit about being a producer? Worst bit?
Relationships are the most important thing, and when you have chemistry with an artist and believe in the idea it’s exhilarating. And generally a lot of fun, even when you hit a crisis, which is par for the course. I feel being paid to professionally champion things you love is a real privilege, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do professionally in one form or another, and there’s very little downside to what I’m doing right now to be honest. But when you’re working independently, there’s often little or no security. Producers are often the ones raising the finance to make a project or idea happen, and the first to suffer pay-wise when things run over budget or lose money because they carry the responsibility, that can be very tricky to navigate.
“I feel being paid to professionally champion things you love is a real privilege”
What or who is getting you excited in arts and tech world right now? Places, people and shows to watch in 2016?
I caught a prelude to Liam Young and Tim Maughan’s collaboration Where the City Can’t See at Abandon Normal Devices in Grizedale last month, which was really exciting. A living film set in a forest, hidden underground communities, LIDAR scans of landscapes distorted by heavy bass lines – it ticked a lot of boxes for me. The result will be the first fiction film made entirely from data, due for completion next year.
Foxdog Studios Ltd. were my word-of-mouth discovery at Edinburgh Festival, a self-styled ‘software consultancy experienced in creating mobile and web apps for media streaming, vision tasks and machine learning’. Performing for free in a damp old office block with a whip round at the end, they’re actually two young comics – and genuine IT consultants – armed with a guitar, an electric drum kit and a bespoke wireless network. The audience interact with the show via smartphones in a way I’ve never quite seen done in a performance before. Very clever, very funny.
Holly Herndon, Jones/Bulley, Eloise Hawser, James Bridle, Tobias Revell, Ant Hampton – all doing exciting things. Juha van ‘t Zelfde’s programming at The Lighthouse in Brighton is great, and Soho’s Brewer Street, with the ever impressive Joana Seguro at the helm, is the car park to watch in 2016.
A huge thanks to Marie – we look forward to seeing the projects that make the program. Remember, entries for MVWorks must be sent through by 23/10/15. If you’d like to find out how we define a project or to see FAQs that might have cropped up already, head over to our news page.