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In the spotlight: From spies to ‘Abba’, Production Buyer Gill Farr has worked with them all.

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This week our featured Production Buyer is Gill Farr who has had an illustrious and impressive career in the industry.  Gill began her journey in Theatre Stage Management, before becoming a trainee Props Buyer at the BBC where her career really took off.  She has worked on many notable film and television productions including ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, and one of her own favourites, the hit Abba musical ‘Mama Mia’.  Here Gill kindly gives us an insight into her job, and what she believes it takes to make it in the industry:-

What 5 skills and abilities are required to be a successful Production Buyer?

Resourcefulness, organisational skills, a sense of history, an ability to keep the budget on track, pragmatism, and of course, a sense of humour!

The skills Gill Farr thinks you need to be a successful production buyer

When were you first aware of the Production Buyer role – How did you get into the industry?

I worked in the theatre in Stage Management, and the first I knew of the role was an advertisement for the post of trainee Props Buyer at the BBC.

What relevant qualifications do you have or think would be relevant?

I don’t have any relevant formal qualifications, but my training in Stage Management has been very useful for most aspects of the job.

What do you like most and least about the role?

I like the fact that almost every day is different, and every job is different. Doing the research for each job, especially period projects, is always interesting.

I least like the long hours and not seeing family and friends as much as I would like, and the current trend for late scripts and schedules can be pretty stressful!

What has been your favourite production to work on? Do you prefer present day or period?

One of my favourite films to work on was ‘Mamma Mia’, and my favourite TV drama was ‘Our Mutual Friend’.

Generally, I prefer to work on period projects as the research and sourcing of the props is often more interesting.

Gill Farr worked as production buyer on Mamma Mia, here's a still from the film.

What are your favourite films?

‘My Life as a Dog’, ‘American Graffiti’, and more recently ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.

What has been the hardest prop you have had to source?

I had to source a brass Duck Press on my last film, a contraption that squashes a cooked duck carcass to extract the blood and juices! That ended up coming from somewhere in France, as nowhere in the UK sold them.

Generally speaking, sourcing props is easier these days with access to the internet from any of your mobile devices. When I first started at the BBC we had the yellow pages, a copy of Kelly’s directory, and spent hours on the phone being re -directed until you spoke to someone who could help.

But, I think all buyers feel a great sense of satisfaction when you do find that tricky prop, whatever the method.