What does the studio manager do?
The studio manager has the responsibility of managing the studio facilities for recording productions. The role will vary greatly depending on the size of the facility. If it’s a small independent operation with one or two small studios, the manager may do a whole range of tasks – set the rate card (the daily or hourly cost to hire the studio), secure new clients, ensure each production runs smoothly, recruit staff and oversee health and safety. However, studios are often part of a larger group of companies, in which case the marketing, sales and HR roles may be shared with other people.
Unless the studio is extremely busy, the studio manager will always be keen to find new clients to ensure the business runs as close to capacity as possible. Studios are very expensive to build and operate, so need to be used seven days a week if they are to make a good profit. Once the client has been secured, the studio manager will advise on the number of days needed to build the set and record the programme, and then check availability. Sometimes the studio is ‘dry-hired’. That means the production company hiring the studio books nearly all the crew themselves. On other occasions, the studio manager helps supply the camera and sound crew. The studio manager always has a number of other key crafts people to call up on, such as designers, construction crews and special effects teams.
The studio manager doesn’t need to have a formal engineering qualification, but the more they understand the technology in the studio, the better they will be able to advise clients and sell the facility. This is particularly important as new technology becomes available as it’s always important to stay ahead of the competition. As well as running the studio, the studio manager also needs to plan marketing events, such as studio ‘open days’ where new production teams can see the facilities on offer.
The hours can be long and the studio manager needs to be ready to sort out the myriad problems that come with running a highly complex facility. However, it can be a great job for someone with excellent entrepreneurial skills, and it offers the chance to work closely with brilliant production teams making excellent programmes.
What’s a studio manager good at?
- Business: have a keen business sense for marketing the studio, negotiating with clients and taking care of the finances
- Problem solving: be flexible and ready to sort out a myriad problems and challenges as they arise
- Technology: know about all the equipment, IT systems and facilities in the studio and keep up to date with the available technology
- Diplomacy: be polite and patient in the management of studio colleagues and be able to maintain good long-term client relationships
- Health and safety: know the legal requirements around keeping a production safe; ensure the wellbeing of those who hire the studio