Talking to Astrid Iverson and Chloe Ellis

In a primarily male-dominated industry, the opportunity to celebrate women should never be missed! The ‘Celluloid Ceiling’ has tracked women’s employment in the film industry for over 25 years. Take a look at their latest report here.

It’s ‘Women’s History Month’ in March, and we thought it would be the perfect time to spotlight our Women-only Production Powerhouse Duo in our Sacred Space: Astrid and Chloe. 

Astrid Iverson is both ‘Head of Production’ and ‘Narrative Producer’, she oversees the entire production department across Commercial, Narrative and Gaming, and as ‘Commercial Producer’ Chloe Ellis focuses specifically on all our Commercial projects.

We asked both of them some thought-provoking questions about being women in our industry.
Take some time to read and digest their answers.

Tell us what you do:

Astrid: As Head of Production, my primary responsibility is to lead and manage our team to ensure smooth and successful operations across film, commercial, and gaming projects. This involves overseeing budgeting, scheduling, and maintaining quality standards throughout all stages of production while also ensuring we hit the nail on the head creatively with every brief that comes in. As Narrative producer I am responsible for ensuring the successful input and output of all narrative projects that come through the studios. From the minute a project “hits my desk”, I am responsible for strategizing how we as a team are going to bring our Clients’ ideas to life. I work closely with our external collaborators such as the production house, post supervisors and producers to ensure we are all cohesively working as a team and continuously supported and aligned. I also work closely with our lead composer and audio engineer to ensure we are always executing the creative vision and that we are able to deliver timeously.

Chloe and I work hand in hand, continuously ensuring that our pillars are always aligned, and that our team is sustainably executing by always considering capacity, creativity and necessities. 

Chloe: I’m the Commercial Producer at Pressure Cooker Studios. I produce the team that handles the music and audio for commercials, liaising with clients, managing the team, and ensuring high-quality product within the deadlines. We problem-seek to problem-solve so that our Clients don’t have to.

My responsibility is to elevate the commercial pillar in the business to new heights from assisting in finding processes to increase efficiency to relationship building with our legacy and new clients.

Tell us more about your industry experience:

Astrid: I was fresh out of varsity with a Diploma in Audio Engineering and landed an internship at a studio where I started off working on sound design for commercials. While I was doing this I was assisting on comms with clients, scheduling and budgeting too. This is when I realised that maybe being a Producer was my calling. I continued working as both an engineer and producer for a while until I was invited as ‘plus one’ to a Pressure Cooker Studios pizza party where I met James and the team, and they left a major impression on me. A couple days later, I was asked to come back to the studio to connect with James, and the rest is history. I’ve been at Pressure Cooker Studios almost 5 years now, latched to Jamie’s side learning everything I can from him, my team and the people we’ve collaborated with over the years.

Chloe:I have worked in the industry for 10 years, starting as a production coordinator, working on set climbing up the ladder to the AD department in international film production, to post production on animation and Visual effects. When the Hollywood strike put the work on hold I saw an amazing opportunity to work with Pressure Cooker Studios who aligned with my values in a way I had yet to experience and wanted to broaden my horizon in the last sector I have yet to touch in this industry, which is music and audio production.

Tell us about the values and culture at the studio:

Astrid: To put it in the most simple way possible, it’s all about the people. Our team comes first, their well being and happiness is vital to us. With happy people, comes an environment for passion to grow rather than perish. And with that passion, we can all feed off of one another creatively. Without our people, we don’t have values and we don’t have our culture.

Chloe: Pressure Cooker Studios nurtures talent by ensuring doing what we love is sustainable by following key values that Jamie and the team has laid as the foundation, we don’t see this a lot in the industry which is what makes Pressure Cooker stand out so much.

Have you faced any specific challenges or obstacles as women producers in a male-dominated industry, and if so, how have you navigated through them?

Astrid: Of course! There are often times that I pick up a subtle shift in attitude or tone when being spoken to in comparison to male counterparts. It can be so subtle, but it’s there. Sometimes there is the assumption that I’m not the one they need to speak to for a decision to be made, or a hard conversation to be had. If I ever feel uncomfortable, I lean on my team to ground me and give me the confidence booster I need to get on with it.

Chloe: In my previous work experience, there were many challenges with being a woman in the industry as a whole, not just as a producer. The most important thing to do is find an environment that celebrates you and has your back and respects you and your role.

What advice would you give to aspiring female producers who are looking to break into the industry and overcome potential barriers?

Astrid: Have confidence in your intuition, and maintain a strong stance. Surround yourself with supportive individuals who will stand by you through thick and thin, as well as those who will provide honest feedback. Refuse to let others sow seeds of doubt about your worth or capabilities, regardless of your role. Practice self-compassion and continuously strive to expand your knowledge. Remember, knowledge is your most powerful tool.

Chloe: Surround yourself with like-minded people who will inspire you, be your authentic self wherever you are, and hold your vision!

As female producers, do you feel a responsibility or a sense of duty to advocate for gender equality and representation within the industry, and if yes, how do you approach this advocacy?

Astrid: I believe there is a responsibility in all of us to support one another, to always stand tall and speak up to be heard, to stand together by calling out the wrongs and teaching the rights with patience and grace.

Chloe: Yes, I think speaking honestly about what I have experienced in regards to harassment and discrimination to let other women know that this is not ok and should not be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. Speaking up is always going to help the next person speak up – and it brings us together to create environments that are safe, supportive, and fair.

What are you excited about for the future?

Astrid: So many things! I’m excited to keep growing and learning as a leader, to pass down my knowledge and gain even more knowledge from those around me.
As my role on the Narrative side grows, I see more opportunities for me to put myself out there to keep meeting interesting people and find those who want to mutually and respectfully collaborate. We’re all on our own journey, but we also have paths we can take together. I’m excited to see all the wonderful and crazy ideas that come out of Pressure Cooker Studios take shape, but also to keep nurturing what is most important, our people, and their art.

Chloe: I’m excited to work with my producing partner Astrid to elevate Pressure Cooker Studios to new heights and continue to learn and grow in our careers as we do.

Stay tuned for our next article where we speak to Sarah Matthes and Sarah Van Der Spuy who make up the Marketing Department at Pressure Cooker Studios.