We recently had the opportunity to interview Amelia Jacobsen who founded the production and location company Amelia & Co. and is often calling on our Manchester branch to ship shoot kit up to the Scottish Highlands for some big brands. Continue reading to find out more.
On your website you have the message, “The Future is ours, Let’s create”, can you explain the message?
It came about in late spring with the realisation that the Covid pandemic wasn’t going to pass quickly and the industry as a whole was suffering due to the restrictions – not just financially, which sadly has affected many people, but initially there was a lot of stifled creativity too and a lack of confidence and clarity on what we were permitted to do. It was, and still is, intended as a message of positivity that things will get better and we need to continue to think creatively and be productive.
You’re are originally from New Zealand, what made you choose to set up your production company in Scotland?
To cut a long story short, I met a Scotsman in Edinburgh in 2000. We moved to London, then Auckland for a while, and finally back to Edinburgh where I’ve been for the last 11 years.
How did you get started in this industry?
Through photography really as my first job was on the picture desk for newspapers – ‘The Telegraph’ being the best known of these. Then in New Zealand I photographed PR events and then worked in Production Companies producing TV ads and films, before getting back behind the camera as a photojournalist. Now in Scotland with Amelia & Co, I feel I’ve finally hit a good balance that encompasses my interests. I get to wear my production hat 90% of the time, and use my past experience as a photographer to help understand my client’s needs. Also, I get to scout all over Scotland to satisfy my photo fix, so it’s a win-win.
How does shooting in Scotland compare to New Zealand or other countries?
Both countries are beautiful and have their own attributes but Scotland offers the most incredible light for photography that isn’t quite the same in NZ – it has a harsher quality there. We get people from all over the world coming to shoot their Fall/ Winter campaigns in the height of Scotland’s summer. It’s ironic that people come specifically for our famed dreary Summer weather but it doesn’t always turn out that way. I had a fashion shoot last year that was 3 glorious days with not a cloud in the sky and 27 degrees.
What inspires you?
Great photography inspires me. I love seeing how a photographer transforms our epic locations. I’ve never seen a location photographed the same way and it always amazes me when you see a new interpretation of an iconic backdrop. With a well-run production to boot, I love that feeling of a job well done. It always inspires me ready for the next job.
What is your most memorable shoot?
I’ve enjoyed lots of great shoots and there’s numerous reasons that can make them stick in your memory. There’s a special bond you get with crew on a shoot, especially if you’re staying away with them. There’s a camaraderie and a shared goal to get the job done to the best of your ability all the while having fun. I think we all share that, which is what’s great about working on creative projects. It’s the common goal. Being able to facilitate, that is our role.
In terms of sheer cinematic beauty I would say the Chloé shoot we did for FW 19 was pretty special. It was shot beautifully by Shayne Laverdiere, but everyone did an amazing job and we were wrapped and in the pub by 5 pm.
How are you getting through this difficult year?
One step at a time. It’s about encouraging people to keep coming to Scotland. We are allowed to continue working and with our guidelines in place it’s proved successful to keep the work flowing. Our in-depth local knowledge has proved invaluable to making shoots easier for crew during this difficult time. Of course, we are all looking forward to seeing life return to normal, but until then we have to keep working safely. Scotland offers so many great locations in less populated areas allowing us to minimise risk overall. For example, we just did a wonderful Shoot & Stay with Zara Home on a beautiful Highland Estate with a private chef to cater for us. Working this way allowed the crew to travel from Belgium and work safely in a bubble while in Scotland.
Why do you choose Direct Digital? How has your experience been?
I have used Direct Digital many times over the years while working freelance. It was only natural they were my first choice when I set up Amelia & Co. They are always able to fulfil our kit lists and pull it all together, sending it up here on incredibly tight deadlines, alleviating any last-minute stress.
What's the strangest thing that’s happened on a production?
I often forget that my normal is not ‘normal’ for most people. We get some pretty creative requests. Production is not all about the logistics, I’ve had to source very specific Japanese tadpoles, keep 2 praying mantis alive till shoot day. I’ve even discovered a lady in Scotland who makes hoodies for parrots and I’m sure at least once a year I get asked for a spring lamb for an autumn shoot.