Lights, Camera... Production HR!
The call from Netflix came out of the blue! For 3 years I had been working as an HR Manager for a television production company that creates scripted, factual, entertainment and reality content. I was not actively looking for another role. I loved what I was doing and the role had a lot of stretch but, being Netflix I was interested to find out more.
During the call, I was informed of the planned expansion of Netflix’s Production HR team out of the LA office and into the EMEA region. They were looking for individuals that would be able to take their HR expertise and apply it to a studio / production environment for the growing amount of content coming out of the EMEA region. The opportunity to be part of a brand new team in the region was exciting. It was an extensive and informative journey throughout the recruitment process and I was excited to be offered the opportunity to come aboard.
The EMEA region is huge and to begin with, it was a little daunting. In my first two weeks I undertook six flights for my initial induction with the Production HR team in LA, then I headed out to New York for a talk show project and then to Rome for a film. It was pretty hectic; there was a lot of exposure and it was information overload. The team, however, were super supportive, gave the best advice and provided space to absorb and reflect when needed.
The role of Production HR (outside of Hollywood) is new to the Studio/ Production environment. Whilst ‘HR’ in itself is a pretty standard function within any company, Production HR is quite niche in the requirement to understand the unusual environments people are working within, whether it is the writers room, casting office, on stage, on location or in post production.
As was well publicised, over recent years the entertainment industry was at the centre of allegations regarding sexual harassment and bullying, Netflix has taken a strong stance on this working diligently to try and prevent any such behaviour. Production HR is there to support the length and breadth of the production. As each project kicks off, we spend time with Cast, Directors, Producers, Heads of Department and Crew preparing them for the production ahead, this includes anti-harassment sessions. The response to the sessions is overwhelmingly positive and encouraging, it sparks great debate and sense of responsibility on our productions with everyone looking out for each other to ensure a respectful and inclusive environment. It’s not just the quality of content available on our service that matters, how that content got there is just as important.
Behind the camera, Production consists of short term contracts and self employed individuals, in many cases these individuals have never had an HR function dedicated purely to production, so the response to our function has been amazing! As well as ensuring respectful environments, there are times when issues can arise and as Production HR, we are there to support and partner with the Heads of Departments and Production Supervisors, in resolving people issues effectively with limited impact on the production, whilst ensuring we are doing the right thing.
Netflix strives for diverse and inclusive production environments and our north star as the Production HR team is to help change the industry. It is exciting to be part of attracting individuals from all backgrounds and experience into the world of creating content. We still have a lot of work to do, many believe the world of film and TV is beyond their reach or that they do not have the right contacts to start a career in the industry. Part of our role as Production HR is working closely with our internal and external Netflix partners to change those perceptions and ensure that anyone, if they have the passion and drive, can make it in a production environment to be part of creating amazing content.
I am coming up to my first year anniversary at Netflix and on reflection it has been a massive growth opportunity for me, for which I am extremely thankful. The role has taken me all over Europe, to the east and west coasts of the USA and could well take me even further afield as our slates continue to grow globally. I also love the diversity of the working environments, generally it is a mix of spending time in the Netflix offices and out on production. To provide an example, it is really not unusual for me to be working, perched on a chair in the corner of a studio whilst filming is taking place on one day, to working in a trailer alongside our production teams out on location, the next! That’s the excitement of Production HR, every environment you enter (and every day!) is different.
The Netflix culture is unique and is not always for everyone, it can take a little time to fully understand it in the day to day. Many company cultures are just words on paper, at Netflix it is a movement, it’s alive and evolving through the people. It filters through every part of what we do and the decisions we make and that is a good thing! It ensures everyone is aligned in their approach to our overall aim, to spark joy for our subscribers.