15 May 2023

Behind the scenes – speaking with producer Rob Watkins

We love introducing you to our freelancers who work across the country, with a variety of sectors, on all sorts of films. Here we dive into film production with Rob Watkins.

Tell us about your process of producing a film. What are the key things you look to do?

When I’m producing a film the first thing I’ll do is to get an in-depth understanding of the story I need to tell and the people involved. I’ll also chat with the key stakeholders to make sure what they’ve briefed and what I’m going to create really meets their needs. Sometimes these conversations can help people realise what’s more important and what’s not.

Once I can get down to working on the creative and the pre-production I’ll always try to meet or chat with the people appearing in the film so I can give them a clear picture of what I’m trying to achieve. These chats are also really important in building trust and forming a relationship. If possible I’ll always recce the locations or if that’s not possible ask for images so I can see what conditions I’ll be working in. This is especially important when I’m flying solo and self shooting a film as I have little time to set up lighting so knowing whether there’s natural light that I can use to my advantage is always super helpful.

In terms of the shoot day/s I’m always conscious about making sure I put the people I’m filming at ease, so that they can tell their story in an environment that feels safe to them. By doing this I’m more likely to get them to open up about a subject that can often be really sensitive and emotional to talk about. Capturing shots/b-roll that help tell the story of the film is obviously super important but when I do this I’m always thinking about how I portray the environment and what are the small details that communicate a key message. For example I recently shot two films for IJP on behalf of the charity Sense on how the Cost of Living Crisis is affecting people with complex disabilities and their families/carers. In one of the films the final shot is a plug in a socket with a light on it to indicate the power, the plug is for a piece of vital medical equipment. As the camera rolls the light fades before going out entirely, it’s a simple yet extremely powerful shot that really encapsulates the mood and message of the whole campaign and leaves you as a viewer truly understanding the gravity of the situation the family in the film are facing as they struggle to afford a basic necessity.


Many of the films touch on marginalised communities and inclusivity – how do you ensure voices are heard?

I think the main thing is trying to make people who are watching the films relate in some way to what it means to be marginalised and feel excluded as these are feelings that are alien to most people. It’s about taking the everyday things that we all deal with, but showing how the people in the films often have a very different experience to you or I.

By making the films we’re helping people to tell their stories and share the challenges they face carrying out things we take for granted such as leaving the house or doing a food shop.

What for you constitutes a good film?

Something that connects with you emotionally and leaves you questioning what you’ve just seen.

Why do you like working with Inside Job Productions?

I love working with IJP firstly because they’re a social enterprise and it’s quite unique for the industry. Trying to help people is at the core of what they’re about and that continues through to the projects I work on for them and that’s really important to me. Secondly, to create content that is going to make a difference to people’s lives I feel is the best thing I can do with my skillset and to be given the opportunity to do so I feel extremely grateful.