Meet our fantastic Toronto based Production Manager, Ilene Mitchell! We had a chance to catch up with Ilene about what it's like to be a Production Manager on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and a little bit more about her journey in the animation industry so far. Check it out!
How did you get into animation?
I wanted a career change after working in Visual Merchandising for years. My dad has been in the industry since before I was even born so when an opportunity came along, he encouraged me to try something in Animation. I started off working in reception and moved up the ranks through there.
How long have you worked in the animation industry?
I’ve been in various roles for a total of five years. Time sure flies!
What's your current role and what does it involve?
I’m currently the Production Manager for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. While working with all internal departments, I am responsible for managing the day to day production and making sure we stick to our deadlines. My role is similar to that of an Air Traffic Controller. I need to be cognizant of all different pieces of information all at once. I ensure that everything is running smoothly and effectively. Just like an Air Traffic Controller ensures that the same runways can be used for the departures and arrivals of multiple planes over the course of a day without collisions and delay. I manage the team resources we have available to make sure that all tasks are completed in a timely manner without anyone getting overwhelmed or work getting backed up or lost.
What are your biggest influences and inspiration?
My family plays a big role in influencing my work ethic. We moved to Canada when I was 7 years old and my parents gave up a comfortable life in the Philippines to provide our family with a better future here. Growing up, I saw firsthand how much my parents had to hustle and grind to get to where they are now. I saw the importance of hard work and that staying positive through all sorts of challenges makes a huge difference. I try to be in that mindset before I enter the door every morning to start my work day.
What's your favourite tool to use and why?
My notebook! I write everything down, not just to organize and remember things but also to jot down things that have happened in the past which may be helpful somewhere down the line. I find it’s very helpful because I can write notes and reminders or draw diagrams for myself during meetings, calls or quick chats at someone’s desk.
What advice would you give someone considering getting into the animation industry?
Short answer? This is a fun industry to be in and you get to work with amazing and super talented people.
But, actual industry advice: be prepared to work hard. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or shy away from the challenges. Success doesn’t come easy but if you’re willing to put in the time and effort and listen to the advice of those who have already found some success, you will do well.
What do you like most about working in animation?
It is never boring. I get to come to work every day and be a part of something that will make a kid’s day (and maybe a couple of adults too!). Not many people can say that about their jobs.
What's been the most challenging thing about working in animation?
Not always being able to control all the moving parts – it can be fun when a curveball is thrown at you but it can also cause the whole production to be a nerve-wracking process. I am lucky to be part of an awesome team where everyone is willing to support one another in creating something special so those curveballs are a little easier to handle.
Outside of animation what are you most passionate about?
I am a mom to a two-year-old little boy who is my world and growing up too fast for my liking. As soon as my day ends, I try to spend as much time with my family as possible. And maybe turn on a little Daniel Tiger for my son so he can see just what Mommy was doing while she was away from him.