Sophie Thiellon joined production house Framestore in 2014 as executive producer of live action in New York. She holds an MBA from INSEEC in France and spent four years as a buyer at the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Pasteur in France, but her passion for dance, visual arts and fashion led her to her first creative role, working at the International Development for Australian Indigenous Art Sydney. Since then, Thiellon has worked as a producer at Finch, Exit Film and Luscious International in Sydney on international campaigns for Canon, Nokia, P&G (Asia), VW and Reckitt Benckiser. She worked as a digital producer with Google while at B-Reel in New York, and in 2013, she collaborated with Australian director Gregor Jordan and actor/producer Bryan Brown to create the Open Road Film Festival, securing celebrity judges including Toni Collette. Thiellon’s work has been recognized at Cannes, Spikes Asia, IAB Mixx, AWARD Australia, YDA, Adfest and Adstars.
How has your background in business influenced your work and career?
My job is all business! Being an executive producer requires skills in strategy, project management, people management and HR, finance, accounting, marketing, sales—all business fields. I think my background helped me acclimate quickly to this role.
What has been your all-time favorite client project, and why?
The Most Powerful Arm was a project for Save Our Sons, a small charity for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a rare and fatal muscle degenerative disease that affects 1 in 3,500 boys. Through the campaign website, people could control a robotic arm that physically signed petitions to help kids with DMD. It is my favorite project because it was the most meaningful, and the use of this beautiful piece of technology was such an innovative and efficient way to raise awareness for the kids.
What excites you about production right now?
I love that we keep pushing the boundaries of the traditional format. More and more, agencies and brands are looking for a one-stop-shop solution. This helps push the quality of the craft by integrating the post-production process at early stages of pre-production, which enables us to offer innovative solutions that we couldn’t suggest if we were not involved until later. I think doing it all in one place also helps the creative collaboration with clients, because it involves fewer middlemen. My job isn’t so much about being on-set anymore (even though I still love that); rather, it’s about being proactive and finding new ways to tell a story.
What emerging technologies and innovations will have the biggest impact on how you create in the next few years?
The ones that have yet to be created. Can technologies be called innovative when they’ve already been used, even once? There is nothing more exciting for me than producing a project using a technology in a way that has never been done before.
What tools do you find indispensable for your work?
I sometimes find myself with five different screens on my desk and just as many ways to be reachable. But I realize when I work remotely that I can often be more efficient with just my iPhone. It has all the tools a producer needs.
How has living in different cities around the world influenced you and your work?
After starting my adult life in my lovely hometown in Lyon, France, I decided to take my chances in Madrid and then London. When I turned 25, I moved to Sydney, where I spent five years. Sydney gave me everything I could ever dream of: I learned how to become a producer with the best people in the industry and also met the man I am about to marry. But Sydney started to feel a bit small and remote; and like many other people in the world, I always had living in NYC on my bucket list. I am so happy we made the move last year. New York has everything, the worst and the best: it’s buzzing 24/7, it’s gritty and beautiful, it’s exhausting and exciting, it’s competitive and has the most talented people in every field. I love it and it gives me the energy and the excitement I need to think creatively every day.
What would be your dream project?
A Daft Punk music video shoot where one of the dancers didn’t show up and the only way to save the situation would be for me to jump in a robot costume and dance.
What is the most important skill you need to succeed as a producer?
To not immerse yourself in today’s tasks, but to take the time and the space to step back and think of the big picture. Look around, be inspired, keep learning and encourage innovation by backing good people who take smart risks.