Jessica Vanacore is a multifaceted producer with a background spanning journalism, broadcast, live streaming, commercial advertising, and film. She’s spent time with national giants CNN, CNBC, and QVC and has produced content in the NY, LA, and Philly markets for major brands like Comcast, Miller Lite, University of Pennsylvania, WellSpan Health, and NJ Tourism. Currently, she’s holding it down with the Philly Post team at Alkemy X.
AX: How do you manage the post-production process to ensure efficient workflow and timely delivery of projects?
JV: It’s all about clear communication and being aligned on expectations on what we’re trying to accomplish and by when. That means me, my client, my clients’ stakeholders, and my creative team - we all need to be on the same page. I achieve this with deliverable trackers, schedules, and status updates on where we are in a project life cycle. I try to do my best to give my clients, our creatives, and myself enough time to meet deadlines but also know when to ask for more time or negotiate more time. I need to be the first line of defense in protecting the creative process. Sometimes we get the time, sometimes we don’t. Let’s just say I have a few tricks to “cheat” a schedule to make sure we’re always running on time, and in some cases, early. In other words, under promise, over deliver. I try to never, ever set my creatives up for failure.
AX: In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions or misunderstandings about the post-production process that you often encounter?
JV: The amount of time it takes to do something. Yes, advancements in technology have absolutely made it easier to do some things, however, you can’t rush a sound mix, or color correction with 6k RAW media, or even putting together a story cut. It’s my job to educate our clients on the process, so they understand timelines better and in turn can be our advocates. This allows us to charge appropriately and also allows our creatives enough time to complete a job successfully. The flip is, if a client has a deeper understanding of how long it takes to complete certain tasks, when say, we are forced to do work on a very quick turnaround, they are more willing to compromise on creative issues that pop up along the way.
AX: In your experience, what are the key factors that contribute to a successful collaboration between a post-producer, your team members, and the client?
JV: A clear understanding of the creative direction and alignment of the project’s goals and objectives.
AX: Can you describe a particularly memorable or rewarding project you worked on and what made it stand out
JV: In 2021 and early 2022, I collaborated with many creatives on a 30 min documentary. This was a project where the client had very little engagement but threw a lot of wrenches into the mix. It was stressful. It was challenging to complete. There were some days I thought it would never get done. However, I made sure to keep communication consistent and clear between me and the agency producer, ask questions and clarify creative direction to keep the team aligned, and constantly push the project forward with as positive of an attitude as I could muster to maintain. It got done, miraculously, and I am very proud of the work we accomplished.
AX: What advice would you give someone starting their post-producer career in terms of skills, mindset, and industry knowledge?
JV: Know what you don’t know and ask questions, don’t assume. I continue to ask questions every day and I don’t pretend to know everything. Find your strengths and play to them. Most importantly, keep your team AND client informed and engaged on the task at hand. And be kind. We’re not saving lives here, no one is going to die. When shit hits the fan, take a deep breath, find the good in the world, and move forward. Oh! And recognize the strengths of others and tap into those resources when you need help (shout out to Ryan Sun and Kristin Riccio, I couldn’t do this job without them). We have an AMAZING #PHLPost Team and when we work together, we can achieve so much in such an efficient way. I am truly humbled by the talent on this team. So yeah, be humble people, and don’t be a jerk.
AX: How do you approach giving constructive feedback?
JV: I’m quite direct, and always open to dialogue. So much of what we do is subjective. I like to offer my thoughts and listen. I don’t die on any hills unless it’s something I absolutely know the client won’t approve of or be open to or it’s a quality control issue. I like to maintain space for the client and our creatives to collaborate.
AX: Do you have any hacks for productivity or organization when working on multiple projects?
JV: Slack channels, google sheets, internal status docs, to-do lists, and PROJECT CALENDARS (even if they are loose, it HELPS). Keeping your email organized and inbox clear is also a huge help. I find myself more on task and organized when I have less than 10 emails in the cue. I constantly file emails away, but some weeks it does get tough to maintain!
AX: How do you envision post-producer roles changing in the future and why do you see things moving in this direction?
JV: We’re becoming more and more involved in the client relationship - we’re another stakeholder representing our client. I like being an advocate for my client and a confidant. It builds trust, and respect, and creates a space for me to advocate for our Alkemy X creatives even more. I see post-producers becoming more involved in relationship management and in turn a sales driver down the road.
AX: What would be a dream project you would like to work on?
JV: Anything to do with Tina Fey or RuPaul.
AX: What are your favorite hobbies or activities outside of work?
JV: Spending time with my family & friends, weight lifting, learning to play piano, live music, and traveling. I got into kayaking this summer, which is a ton of fun! Also, spoiling my cats. And as some of you know, I farm sit for my cousin on occasion and love taking care of the critters. Also, making time and creating space to work on my mental health, which makes the hard days at work much, much more manageable.