Interview with Tom Durrant, Producing Trainee at MIF

"Do things just because you enjoy them and not for someone else."

Interview with Tom Durrant, Producing Trainee at MIF

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hi, I’m Tom Durrant.

And what is your role within the Creative Traineeship Programme?

I am the producing trainee, which means that I am a member of the producing department responsible for getting the idea from the artist’s head into the real world.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Really varied, I don’t think I have a typical day. It depends on if artists are in town or if a show has important deadlines coming up, but usually something like: Get in and check the to do list from stuff I didn’t do yesterday, remember that other thing I forgot to do and make sure that is added. I usually have some budget or finance stuff that needs doing and some venue/location scouting. I’ve had a lot of meetings about Atmospheric Memory recently because the site starts building today! And also making sure I’m up to date on other projects in case I need to assist on any aspect of them. I aim to be as open as possible to producing so that if something comes up I can help as much as I can.

What’s great about your job?

I know everyone says this, but, I usually do something different each day. From location scouting to being in rehearsal rooms, I never get bored!

And what is something you find difficult or challenging?

Like I said above, because I never really know where my day will take me it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what I should be working on. I know that I could be better with managing my time and it’s something I intend to improve.

How did you first get onto the programme?

I am part of a Facebook group where people advertise jobs and opportunities and I just saw the advert from that. I rang up because it looked right up my street and the kind of thing I wanted to be a part of.

Why did you apply for the Creative Training Academy?

I had been jumping around from temp job to temp job and never really ever feeling like I had achieved much where I had been working. I had been doing a bit of theatre but only on the side and nothing that I was really being paid for. I knew that if I didn’t apply I would kick myself in six months time when I saw all the amazing MIF stuff I didn’t go for. I had to apply.

What has been a highlight of your experience?

So far, it’s been being a part of a development week for Atmospheric Memory. It was in January when I hadn’t been at MIF for very long, and I was brought in to support a week-long workshop where we hashed out a lot of the details for the show. I walked into a room knowing nothing and no-one and felt way out of my depth, but by the end of it I knew what my role was and how I could help the rest of the team. It was nice to be pushed in that way and see that I could achieve something new.

How have these opportunities helped you develop?

I am more determined in my work and I now know a lot more about the stuff I don’t know about. Does that make sense? I know I don’t know everything, but I’m much more comfortable in admitting that and asking for help when it’s needed. I want to make sure I understand everything about the productions I am working on and the only way to do that is ask questions.

Do you now feel more confident in pursuing a career in your chosen field?

Oh yeah. I’ve gone from not knowing what I want to do to kind of knowing what I want to do. I know that I want to create immersive experiences for audiences using everything I have at my disposal: tech, performers, location and that sort of thing. I just now need to work out how I’m going to achieve that!

Do you believe that opportunities like this are helpful for young people looking to get into a creative career or organisation?

Without a doubt. It gives you experience in a field and gives you opportunity to fail, but in a safe and supported environment. My biggest hesitation about pursuing a career in the arts is always the question of ‘what if I fail?’ How do I pay my bills and actually afford to live? I’m not from a background where my parents can support me, opportunities like this just make the industry a bit more equitable for all. It also gives an insight into how organisations work, which I always find really interesting.

Was a creative career something you had considered before taking part in the Creative Training Academy?

I knew that I wanted to work in the arts in some capacity. I’ve experimented with performing and directing, but I always felt something wasn’t quite right. I’m more comfortable now in where my career is headed.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

Cut your hair. You look terrible. I’d also advise you to not pick chemistry or physics at A level because you ain’t gonna be a physicist mate. Keep your options open and pick English or something. 16 is way too young to decide on your direction for the next 50 years. Read more - books, articles, everything. Do things just because you enjoy them and not for someone else. Keep trying to develop yourself because you don’t know everything and please don’t think you do. (wow that got deep quickly)

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

Ask people. Talk to them. I’m more than willing to sit down for a coffee (if you think I have anything to contribute I’d love to help! @tomtomdurrant -sneaky self-promotion 😉). People can be a bit busy sometimes but on the whole, we are a really friendly industry and people love to chat and procrastinate on writing contracts…

Also, this might not be the greatest advice but I think it’s worthwhile, research a company or organisation you want to be involved in as much as you can. Give them an email. As long as you’re not asking questions you can find out the answers to with a quick google and you are genuinely interested in them that’s as good an introduction as any. It’s also something I intend on doing soon…

In your opinion, what is ‘unmissable’ about MIF19?

This is like asking a parent to choose between kids… But, since that’s the point of this question, DYSTOPIA987, Re:Creating Europe and Atmospheric Memory. But I’d advise you to go and see everything if you can, and that’s actually my serious answer. Go and see it even if you think you won’t like it because those are sometimes the shows you find the most interesting.

We are releasing interviews from all seven MIF Creative Trainees throughout May. To read the others, click here.

Header Image Credit: Chris Forster


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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