“It goes without saying no two shoots are ever the same and for me, that’s what makes production so addictive as an industry.” Meet Producer Aillie MacDonald.
Brought up in Dunoon, Scotland, fashion-savvy Aillie worked in marketing and production in London with brands like Oliver Bonas and NET-A-PORTER before relocating to join our Edinburgh production team this year. Since then, she has produced dozens of stills and film campaigns throughout the UK, with 6 months of world travel in between.
Here, we catch up with Aillie to chat high-end campaigns, fast-paced production, and fashion marketing, as well as orangutans, flamingos and dolphins, naturally.
Hey Aillie! How have things been going since you joined LS in May this year?
Hi! Wow, where to begin? I have been so busy on shoots since joining LS that I honestly don’t know where the time has gone! Moving from London was a big change, but the beautiful city of Edinburgh has welcomed me with open arms. I LOVE Leith and the gritty-come-hipster vibe of the place.
What have been your favourite jobs to work on so far, and why?
They have all been so different... I really enjoyed working on Veja and taking the visiting team over to Skye. Until then, I had actually never visited *shameful.* I’ve been lucky enough to produce on a never-before-shot-on Sea Fort in the North Sea, herd a flock of hill sheep on a farm in Pentlands to circle a global singing superstar, and have even slept in an unoccupied grand old Scottish country castle. It goes without saying no two shoots are ever the same and for me, that’s what makes production so addictive as an industry.
You started your career in marketing, how did you make the transition into production?
In the early years I started out as a marketing assistant for a retail brand, helping the senior managers prepare for seasonal campaign photoshoots by packing samples, steaming garments and being a runner on set. When I moved on, my next job was at a production agency. Almost instantly I was producing shoots for Sony Music and international fashion and beauty brands. That was the beginning of my addiction to production and the buzz of working with such a variety of people in so many interesting places. I moved back in-house after that, working at large organisations such as Arcadia and Debenhams. It was here that I learnt a lot about the incredibly fast-pace of production and honed my ability to manage multiple shoot projects at any one time. From there, I went on to produce for several more agencies and brands on shoots throughout the UK and across the world.
My marketing background has been a huge advantage to me as a Producer having sat in the client’s position many times before. I understand and appreciate the shoot is always part of a wider marketing campaign with multiple end-uses such as online, print and advertising media. My experience working across all of these elements as a marketer has enabled me to speak with clients about many particular production implications and considerations before the shoot has even taken place!
“There are lots of challenges in every production but I have found that with impeccable organisation and a strong team, you can always come out the other side feeling proud and with a smile on your face.”
Has the fashion industry played a big part in your career, and what attracted you to work with fashion brands?
It feels cliche to say it, but I love clothes (...and shoes and bags) and truly do enjoy the dozen or so advertising pages at the beginning of any magazine before the contents page. It’s a personal thing, you can’t say why you like it; you just do. However, as a Producer my initial thoughts are often typically, “Oh, that swan is fake” or “Ah yes, I’ve shot in that studio,” or even worse, “Oh dear, if only they had lit the model’s’ face from a different angle.”
Last year you took 6 months out to travel the world - any highlights?
It was the bravest and most rewarding time of my life. Quitting a steady job and spending every penny you have to be with the same person every day is scary, but totally worth it. I packed up my life into a storage unit and lived very humbly out of a rucksack for 6 whole months on a trip spanning 12 countries and too many cities to name! It’s too hard to pick only one favourite place but some personal highlights were climbing up the old Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, swimming in the Amazon with wild pink dolphins, getting within arms reach of an Orangutan in Borneo and skydiving over the snow-capped mountains in Taupo, New Zealand
Quickfire question time! What do you get up to outside work?
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. This can mean packing up and travelling as far south as London, or heading right up north to Inverness. Now that I live in Leith, it’s too easy to stumble across a new restaurant or bar and spend a Saturday afternoon people watching with a drink in hand.
How would your friends describe you?
I’ll be honest and admit I’ve asked them to help me with this question...a few of the snippets coming in from Whatsapp are “headstrong,” “infectious laughter,” “loyal,” and “amazing eyes.” That doesn’t make sense if you’ve not seen my eyes!
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
In 2019 I’m excited to produce even bigger and better shoots than in 2018, go on a safari in Africa and celebrate my 1st wedding anniversary.