As part of the Beyond Reality interview series, I interviewed Michelle Gauntlett, a line producer who has worked on shows such as Australian Ninja Warrior, The Bachelor and Australian Survivor. I talked to Michelle about how she got her start working on specialist factual TV in the UK, before successfully making the move to Australia, where she now works on some of the biggest entertainment formats in the country.
To listen to the full interview, check out the Beyond Reality podcast here: Beyond Reality – Michelle Gauntlett.
Did you always want to work in TV?
I actually have a funny story about how I ended up in TV. I always wanted to do jobs that I’d seen on the telly. I wanted to be a hairdresser because of the drama called Cutting It. I wanted to be a nurse because I watched Holby City and I always used to come up with these random professions that I wanted to be. Then, when I was probably around 19, someone said to me; “Why do you always want to be these different professions?”, and I said, “Cause I Like watching them on telly!” And they asked me why I didn’t just work in television. Suddenly, this whole new world opened up to me. That’s how I kind of went and did my degree and started trying to find a job in television. I kind of stumbled across television without knowing it but I suppose I grew up on television in the UK because the weather is so poor.
Did you go to university and if so, what did you study?
I went to university in Scotland and did a media degree. It was meant to be Media Theory with Production but sadly, when I joined it in first year, they dropped the production part so it was just all the theory side of television.
What was your first job in TV and how did you land it?
There was a big show on the BBC called Rolf and Art, where famous people were asked to recreate sections of famous artworks. I found out through my university that it was coming to Edinburgh and I went along for a shift of running and from that they invited me down to their London shoot. That was kind of my opening into television. I was hooked.
How did you make the move to Australia from the UK?
I was very fortunate, I’d been working for 8 years at a production company. At this point, I was a production manager, and I got a sabbatical. I decided I wanted to come out to Australia and I came out and I actually didn’t want to work in TV. I wanted to have a bit of a break, and sadly my CV was so geared towards television, I wouldn’t even get a job pulling a pint! I realised I wasn’t going to get any other work…it was television or nothing so luckily, I’d been given some contacts at Shine and I sent in my CV. I had a few interviews with different people there and I was very fortunate to get my first Australian job on my working holiday visa on a show called Aussie Pickers as a production coordinator and from there I PM’d. I just got hooked on Australian television and how it was made!
What’s your best piece of advice for someone starting out in TV?
The biggest piece of advice if you’ve only got a day on set. It’s not about going up to the Executive Producer or Line Producer, it’s about getting on with it getting involved, if you’ve got nothing to do then have a conversation with people. Find out what they’ve done, how they’ve done it.
Want to hear more stories from the people behind the TV shows you love? Check out my interviews with Post Producer and Story Producer, Kaite Milicich or Home Economist, Brendan Garlick.
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Michelle Gauntlett is an Australian-based line producer who started her television career in the UK. She has worked on show including; Australian Ninja Warrior, Old People’s Homes For Four Year Olds, Australian Survivor, Gogglebox Australia and The Bachelor.