Oct 26, 2021
Meet the Butcher Birds – Emily Kerrigan
Emily Kerrigan – Production Coordinator
In this series, we showcase our exceptional team members that make up Butcher Bird Studios. For the first entry, we spoke with Emily Kerrigan – our Production Coordinator and newest Butcher Bird colleague – about her background as an opera singer, her favorite Butcher Bird project, and her never-ending paperwork!
Can you tell us about your background, and why you decided to go into broadcast / video production / entertainment?
My background is originally in classical music – specifically opera! My whole life I’ve heard the myth that a degree in music is useless, but in a way the skills I gained training as a professional musician prepared me more for the real world than any other degree could have. Opera requires a high level of technical precision, intense focus, self discipline, and an understanding of professional decorum. It gave me a real sense of how to carry myself in the corporate world as well as an appreciation for preparation and attention to detail.
Along with live performance, I’ve always loved film and television. Throughout my years as a working opera singer I had the privilege of gaining experience in many different facets of the entertainment industry. I’ve worked at a very traditional large-scale production company, in talent management, as an assistant to on-camera talent, as a freelance writer, and in experiential public relations. When I was younger this patchwork quilt of job experience stressed me out, but now I’d like to think all of these uniquely prepared me to find a home at a place like Butcher Bird in a highly non-traditional, digital media space.
How did you end up joining Butcher Bird Studios?
I was lucky enough to be brought on as a freelance writer and script supervisor for some projects Butcher Bird did with BuzzFeed a few years back. Almost immediately I realized that the environment at BBS is very unlike any of the many other places I had worked. Because the producers and partners at BBS place such an emphasis on education and professional development, there is a real feeling of support from all of the staff. It felt like the first time an executive had asked for my opinion as a junior employee and was genuinely interested not only in what I had to say, but what creative input I could bring throughout the project. When they asked me to join the team full time this year, it honestly felt like my dream job.
Describe your role, and how it has evolved since you joined Butcher Bird?
I am a Production Coordinator, so a lot of what I do varies based on the needs of each client and project. In my time at Butcher Bird so far, I have gotten the chance to support a wide scope of different projects on both the more traditional branded content end, as well as the live stream side of things. This kind of variety in budget, size, creative, and technical needs inherently demands adaptability in production support. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to take on a larger role on some of the smaller projects we’ve done. This has been incredible for my own personal growth, and I am grateful to be surrounded by top tier producers who have guided me through the process. I’m a big believer that doing is one of the best ways to learn, and working at Butcher Bird has been a lot of diving into the deep end and figuring out how to swim (all the while knowing there is an incredible team on the sidelines with a life raft for you – just in case)!
What is the most challenging part of your job at the moment?
One of the most rewarding parts of working in experiential, digital media is that unlike traditional movies or TV shows, you bear witness to the fruits of your labors much more quickly! Because our shoots and shows live in a fast paced environment, and because at Butcher Bird there are many, many irons in the fire at any given moment, the most difficult aspect is being able to juggle everything all at once. Plus, a big part of my job is helping our producers keep all that glorious paperwork for each project organized, archived, and in check. As you may imagine, there is never a lack of paperwork in production!
How has Butcher Bird changed since you joined?
While I’m still fairly new to Butcher Bird, I would say the biggest thing I have witnessed is the rapid growth. Though most productions saw a massive shutdown during the pandemic, Butcher Bird’s capacity for live stream made them, if anything, more busy! As production has begun to come back slowly but surely, we aren’t seeing any decline in the need for good virtual production. I think many people realized that even as live events come back, offering a live stream option for their events is advantageous as it includes an even larger audience in the experience. And, with the technology we have today, the quality of a virtual event can provide viewers from around the world with an equally amazing experience to that of being able to attend in person.
What’s your favorite Butcher Bird project and why?
The original BuzzFeed Eko projects I first worked on do hold a soft spot in my heart. Not just because they were for such a fun client who really allowed us to be playful with the creative, but because those videos challenged me in a variety of ways. Creatively, it was demanding, and it also gave me the opportunity to work intensely with Luis, Travis, and Steven, who have since then become wonderful mentors and friends. Eko was really the first interactive media project that I worked on, and that definitely sparked an interest for me as in the kind of tech forward storytelling that Butcher Bird is capable of.
What makes Butcher Bird unique?
While Butcher Bird is a relatively small company, we are working with massive names in the industry and putting out services and products at a level far beyond what I think most people would expect from a small organization. The talent and team here are truly at such a high caliber allowing us to create a standard of work that is unparalleled in the virtual production industry. Butcher Bird is phenomenally supportive of growth and education. While other companies I’ve worked for tend to compartmentalize their employees, they push us to explore interests we may have in different departments or aid in ways for us to further develop crucial industry skills. I think Butcher Bird offers innovative production and cutting edge technology, while never sacrificing the importance of narrative storytelling.
What do you think is the next big thing in streaming / broadcast / tv technology? How will this change the creative process?
I think streaming is going to be looking to find more ways to create experiences based on their original IP for their viewers. We’ve seen the resounding success so far of programming like “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” the “Stranger Things” live drive-in show, and recently, “Netflix Geeked Week,” which Butcher Bird helped to create. Now more so than ever people are looking to feel like part of a community, and I think that the kind of work Butcher Bird creates has very much been ahead of its time in that regard.
What do you wish you knew before starting your career?
I wish I knew that it was okay to find my own path. Being a musician, I thought I had already conquered the fear of what society thought about my career choices. Somehow trying out different things and deciding I didn’t want to pursue them was far more difficult, because I felt an incessant need to know I was on the right track. It was easy to compare myself to friends who worked the same, steady job while I bounced around and felt like employers wouldn’t take me seriously. But all of those gathered experiences have only broadened my skill set and overall world view, which I’m immensely appreciative of. The real “path” I’ve come across for finding joy and success in my career has been to live each day with curiosity and a willingness to learn.
Get in touch with Emily via LinkedIn. If you have any questions for the team, drop us a message (firstname.lastname@example.org).