Liz Adcock was one of the first women to RSVP to the first LWD event saying she'd been waiting for it to come to town. She's been a leader and advocate ever since, all the while building an impressive career in the film production world for brands like AirBnb, NatGeo and Coors (just to name a few). Here she shares her journey, adventures in production and her background and passion for photography.
So what do you do?
I went to school for photography and advertising and my background is photo production, but since coming to Nashville I’ve been doing all film production. I was previously working for Disney ABC in LA, which is was inspired this path. For the last year and a half I worked at a film production company called Evolve and recently left to pursue freelance. (At time of interview Liz was 100% freelance, she has since accepted a role with a company called StudioNow.) I always thought I’d be more involved on the camera side since that’s what I studied, but I’m really enjoying production. It’s very stressful and everything falls on you, but it forces you to think on your feet and be creative really fast. I recently got back from a shoot in Memphis for AirBnb. While we were there, we stayed at the Graceland Resort and it was insane. So many old ladies with Elvis tattoos.
Could you describe production for people who aren’t as familiar with film industry? How do you describe what you do?
I’m the showrunner, for lack of a better word. I book the crew, tell them where to go, and when to be there. I make sure all the gear has been ordered. I always have to be 5 steps ahead and look into the future. Usually with production there’s no boundaries, like I’ll get a call at midnight “Hey last minute change! 8AM call time but we gotta get this done now, need a new PA” so it’s always thinking on your feet and being prepared for anything to go wrong, and you have to be a good problem solver. My title right now is production coordinator, but it’s like the entry level to try to be a producer. I also do a lot of styling and prop assisting. My ultimate dream would be to be a creative producer or photo stylist. Content branding for products would be ideal.
What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on?
bout a year ago we did a NatGeo and Coors light duo branding commercial. We flew to Denver and did this hike, the idea was that we were going to go to the top of this mountain with this photographer who is the star of this commercial. I am not a very physically active person, so we had to wake up at midnight and start this hike at 1AM, it took 3 hours to get up the mountain. I’m carrying a 60 pound backpack. The crew is about 5 of us and 2 clients, the talent (the photographer) and the director. It’s pitch black and we are in headlamps. I don’t hike so that was crazy. We got to the top an hour faster than we had anticipated, so we had an hour before sunrise. We’re freezing and we’re not dressed properly because we didn’t think it’d be as cold as it was. It was so windy, we end up in a body pile to stay warm, wrapped in trash bags to add layers. We’re spooning in a big circle, I had cell service and was googling “At what point do you feel hypothermia” my body was involuntarily shaking at this point, it was terrifying.
But, it was amazing. It was maybe my second shoot with this company. It was a 13 hour day, I’m exhausted by the end of it but we got all the shots; it was beautiful. This photographer on the edge of a cliff, incorporating Coors. I was sitting there misting the bottle, the photographer was telling me he was leaving tomorrow for a shoot abroad and on the hike down he trips and twists his ankle. So on the way down we’re having to help him waddle down this mountain. Everything that went wrong could have but all in all it was amazing. It ended up only being like 3 minutes of footage. You hustle and hustle and the end game may only be a 30 second spot. People see these commercials and they have no idea how much of someone’s soul has gone into it.
It seems like with that kind of work it seems like you really have to keep a positive attitude…
Yeah attitude is everything, whether you’re a PA or an intern or the highest level creative director on set. With film too you don’t really have to go to college for it, as long as you’re really good and you have an amazing attitude people will want to work with you. It can make or break an entire set. If your producer or director has a bad attitude then everything can go wrong.
So how long have you lived in Nashville?
2 years and loving it! The people and the energy has been really inspiring.
As you said, photography was your thing, and you stumbled into production, what was it like to find that you like production maybe more than you thought?
I went in originally to my internship at Disney, and that was what kick started it. I went into the photography and visual communication department where I was doing all photo production but was still the world of film. I was really intimidated by that, I didn’t go to film school or study production and a lot of my peers did. It turned out I was good at it and I was like, “oh wow!” I can be creative and organized, I love planning things so it turned into me planning shoots and managing the crew. It turned out I liked it. I had never thought about that being a role before. When you see the outcome at the end of the shoot and everybody’s happy it reminds you that it’s worth it.
If you could go back and talk to 18 year old you, what would you say?
I loved what I did in college so I wouldn’t change anything in that sense, but if I could get a minor in film I would just because that would have been really cool. I’d tell myself to network more, I wish I had taken that more seriously. Now I understand how important it is but in college I definitely didn’t. I thought it was all about good grades and making cool work. I also would have sought out a mentor to guide me, I did all these photography internships and I loved them but I think I was still trying to find my niche and what aspect of photography I wanted to do. My program in school was very fine art based, they didn’t really want you to do commercial style work, so I’m glad I double majored in advertising.
If someone wanted to get into the film industry in Nashville where would they start?
I’d say look at small production companies, they are always looking for help in terms of interns. It might be unpaid, but once people know who you are if you have a great attitude, and you’re killing it, network and apply to every internship you can find. Make it known that you’re available. For freelance I’ll remind people I’m available like, “hey just so you know I went freelance, would love to grab coffee soon!” remind people that you’re there without being annoying has been the biggest thing. I’ve made sure to keep maintaining relationships. I left the company I was at when I felt stagnant in my role, which is when you know it’s the right time to go. I felt like I had gained enough experience there where I could just dive in to freelance.
So give us a glimpse into your personal life..
My fiancée and I moved out here two years ago, he’s a graphic designer at Lonely Planet and he also loves photography. We both aim to inspire each other and grow together. We’ve been together 9 years and got engaged in May. We have a bunny named, Pancake. Nashville still sometimes feels new to me, so I’m still finding myself here. Since going freelance I’ve been trying to stay active so I’ve been volunteering or doing personal work. I think it's really important to collaborate and inspire each other, especially women in creative industries, so being involved in groups such as LWD have been so crucial to this stage of my life. Whether that’s helping with my path of self discovery or helping me focus on career goals, I think it’s so crucial to connect and empower the women in your community.
What’s your favorite wine?
Cabernet, but I love all wines! If it’s being offered to me I’ll take it. I also love scary movies and huge into true crime, give me a horror movie and I’m set.
So what’s next/long term goal?
I’m looking for full time jobs (and she got one at StudioNow since this interview) but I’d love to one day be a creative director whether for a network. For now I want to stay in film, but photoshoots are definitely my favorite.