JUMPING BACK INTO PRODUCING
How to Stay Married series producer Pennie Brown shares how her Film Vic-supported Company Placement at Princess Pictures came at the right time for her.
Gaining hands-on experience is valuable at all stages of a career, whether you’re returning to an industry after some time out, entering the industry for the first time or making the big switch.
Thanks to our Company Placements program, producer Pennie Brown joined leading Melbourne production company, Princess Pictures, working with the female-led team to create content that audiences love.
We spoke to Pennie about individual career paths, what the placement has given her to date – starting with a series producer credit on the second season of Ten’s hit comedy How to Stay Married – and where she sees herself in the future.
What stage of your career were you at when you took on this opportunity? Where are you at now?
I was mid stage of my career when I commenced with Princess Pictures. I had taken a few years out to have my two babies and it was a big mental barrier in considering returning to work in TV. I knew that it takes long hours and commitment to produce a television series and couldn’t help but think ‘how is this going to impact my family?’. But knowing that I would be working with some very inspiring people who I had admired for many years, and seeing them do the family-work juggle as well, was reassuring. I also have a mentor who is a mum too and a brilliant producer and she really gave me the confidence and mental preparation I needed to jump back in. I now consider myself exactly where I’m meant to be. Everyone’s career path is not only interesting but individual to that person and their circumstances.
What has the placement at Princess Pictures given you to date?
First and foremost, it has given me confidence in my producing and management abilities. It sounds fundamental but having the opportunity and support from the expert team at Princess Pictures has enabled me to put into play the skills I had acquired over 20 years of working on set, in development, in post-production and as a producer. I’ve since earned a series producer credit on How To Stay Married Series 2 and I’m attached as producer to an exciting, upcoming comedy project.
What do you think will be the long-term impact of this placement on your career?
Working at Princess Pictures allows me to build on my skills and challenge myself as a producer every day. I’m working across a range of projects at different stages alongside a dedicated creative team wanting to make the best content we can. There’s the obvious plus of employment, but it’s the exposure to exciting talent and concepts that I relish and what’s really shaping my career path and my personal growth as a producer.
You were part of Film Victoria’s Women's Professional and Leadership Development program in 2018. What did you gain from that experience that led you to where you are now?
That opportunity was a very important part of my career development, as it was focused on upskilling my leadership and communication skills, as well as learning more around film and television distribution. It also helped to bring my name to the fore when Jenni Tosi and Emma Fitzsimons were considering producers for How To Stay Married Series 2. The Film Victoria Company Placement slotted into place at the right time and I’m very thankful to Film Victoria for their insightful and career-focused programs.
What are your ultimate career goals?
To become the Head of Production or an Executive Producer for a network, and to create and produce an original long-form drama series.
What advice do you have for other creatives on taking the next step in their careers?
Find an industry mentor who both inspires and challenges you. Relationship build with more than just your industry peers as you never know where a chance meeting will lead. And apply for opportunities – they truly will open doors.
How To Stay Married Series 2, supported by Film Victoria, is currently airing on Network 10 on Tuesdays at 8.45pm. It is also available on demand on 10 play.
For more information about our skills programs and how they support Victorian practitioners, visit film.vic.gov.au/funding/business-skills-support/.
Photo Heath McKinley. This interview has been edited and condensed.