My Journey To Sky Sports Production – #9: Stuart Lang (Production Coordinator)

Monday 24 May 2021

How It Started

What was your first ever job?

My first ever job in TV was as a camera assistant for Emmerdale. I was really into cameras at university and filmed at a few music festivals, so decided to go down that technical route. Straight out of Uni, I moved back up to my hometown of Leeds and worked as a CA for a year or so, dragging cables through muddy fields in Yorkshire, learning about camera kit and seeing all the behind the scenes drama production. I enjoyed it for a bit but wanted to move away from the North, and I’ve always been really into organising things and much prefer the live environment, so explored getting a job on the production side of TV.

What brought you to Sky?

I had a couple of friends working for Sky Sports in different roles and they all said how great of a place to work it was – and while looking for jobs I found the Junior Production Coordinator role, which was perfect for me as I needed to learn the ropes in something completely new to me. I drove down for the interview day and was amazed by the campus and the people I’d met – and how different the environment was from my previous role. When I left, I knew I had to get the job because I loved it so much. Now, I’ve been at Sky and lived in London for just over two years and haven’t looked back!

How has your role evolved over the years?

I started as a Junior and got promoted to the role of Production Coordinator a few months later. I used to work across a few different sports as a junior, and now I work mainly for the Golf team which is great fun. It’s a great team and there’s always a new challenge every week, which keeps me on my toes. Whether it’s getting 35 people back from America the day the country announces a lockdown or helping organise the Masters in a way we’ve never done it before from Sky Studios, it’s great to be a part of it. I am now also part of the Sky Forum as a rep for Sky Sports – collaborating with many other areas of the wider business and acting as a voice for my colleagues.

What were your biggest professional challenges and how did you overcome them?

I think my biggest challenge was actually transitioning from the freelance lifestyle and trying to get into a full-time position in television – especially in something I hadn’t been involved in before. It was really mentally challenging without any stability for a while but pleased to be settled and happy in my job now – just needed a bit of belief. I think my greatest achievement would be being the main stage camera operator for Boardmasters festival. I’m properly into my music and at Uni, we had a production company that filmed for the big screens at festivals up and down the country. So, filming massive acts like George Ezra in front of fifty thousand people was pretty special.

How It's Going

What does your day to day work life look like?

The day to day role as a Production Coordinator is non-stop organisation and speaking to people in a nutshell. You’re across everything to do with a production start to finish, pre-production to post production. We’re responsible for travel, accreditation, visas, booking crew, speaking to our talent, keeping everyone happy and in the loop and so much more. I love being one of the first of many cogs in the wheel, starting the planning process, and then seeing it live on air. It gives me a great sense of pride and it still feels cool to say, “I worked on that”.

What’s been your SPS career highlight and why?

I think I’d have to say my first OB (outside broadcast), The Open 2019. At the time, I was still a junior and got the opportunity to go and work at The Open over in Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks. It was my first live experience working at Sky and threw me right in the deep end. When at The Open, I worked with multiple different companies, broadcasters and members of Sky staff and made lots of friendships and contacts. It also gave me really valuable experience to take into my new role and really solidified my decision to become a Coordinator. I missed the opportunity to go out to many OB’s last year because of a certain pandemic – so I’m really looking forward to getting back out to The Open this coming July and be part of a new way of working, in a way we’ve never done The Open before!

What can you see yourself doing next?

I certainly see myself moving up through the production team in years to come. I work closely with my Production Manager, who I’m learning a lot from and I’m really enjoying learning about that role. The cool thing about being a Coordinator is that you have to speak to people all around the business in your day to day role – so you learn a lot about different areas and see how a lot of departments work – this is such a valuable thing to have and will aid me in any production role going forward.

How It Can Be Done

What are your top 3 tips for becoming a Production Coordinator?

  • Be good at speaking to people, as you’ll be one of the main contacts they will speak to about a production. Get to know anyone and everyone as you don’t know how they might be able to help you in the future.
  • Be confident in your abilities and present yourself with pride and know what you’re talking about – and if you’re unsure, ask questions.
  • Be proactive and gain the ability to make both difficult and quick decisions, prioritise well, and act fast if something difficult and pressing comes along.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

I think I hold the same principles as I did back then, but I’d definitely tell myself to do what you love, don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t be afraid to do anything. There’s no point in doing something if you don’t enjoy it, after all, you’ll spend every day doing it! Have a laugh and enjoy yourself whilst doing your job well. Oh – and Stu, you’re not going to be in an indie band for the rest of your life!