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Meet the development and production executive

Shayna Waldman started out working in a legal firm before finding her way in to the media industry

Shayna Waldman, development and production executive at The ATS Team
Talk us through an average day in your role

One of my favourite parts of working in my role and in my industry is that every day is a bit different. My industry is constantly changing. In some ways, that means I am working hard to keep up, but it also means that I am consistently being challenged. It isn’t a “routine” role by any means. At the moment, we are still a relatively small team, so that means I wear a lot of hats. I work across development, production and also operations. Depending on the day, sometimes that means I am working on the kinks in a new show format we are hoping to sell, working with one of our talented designers on renders for a development project, pitching a show to a network or co-production, tracking costs for overheads or productions with my team, mapping out a production plan for our upcoming season, checking the industry trades to see what shows are being purchased by which broadcasters or heading out into the field to be on set during one of our productions. It definitely keeps me on my toes! 

How did you get started in the media industry?

I got started in the industry somewhat by chance. A couple of years out of uni, a childhood friend of mine was child-minding for a casting director. The casting director gave her a chance to work on her team as a casting assistant. My friend and I would speak frequently and she would tell me about her new job and I couldn’t even believe it was a job. I was working at a law firm at the time as a paralegal and preparing to take my exams to apply for law school, but I wasn’t really appreciating my time in that environment. One day, I’d had enough, I quit my job and decided to move from Boston back to my home city, Los Angeles. The week I moved home, I was working on the set of auditions for a brand new dance competition series. It was a gruelling 16 hour day, but honestly, the most fun I’d had in a long time. Something just clicked for me and I began my transition into the industry from that day forward.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I had zero training before I went into the TV industry. I went to a liberal arts college and studied philosophy, religion and psychology, then went on to work in a law firm. Even though I grew up in Los Angeles, I didn’t even know many people in the industry, so it was really quite new to me. However, I am a people person and I LOVE to watch TV, including a lot of reality TV, so in that sense, conversations with colleagues were easy. I started from the bottom, made valuable connections and worked hard to fill in the gaps where some of my colleagues who had gone to school for tv and film had more experiential knowledge and technical skills.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

I enjoy working in the industry because it is always evolving and there is an endless amount of knowledge and skills to learn. It caters to my personality quite well, as I prefer the constant change. On top of that, it can be FUN and occasionally, I pinch myself because it’s actually a pretty cool gig.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

Work hard but smart, be helpful, be very observant, TAKE INITIATIVE and be nice to people! Ultimately, our business is built on connections, people want to work with people who are both skilled at their job, and easy to collaborate with! Always be upskilling, never stop learning. Try to work in as many departments as you can, it will help you figure out which department you want to work in and also help you with the bigger picture. You’ll be better at your job if you know what other departments do and how they all come together to bring an idea to life!