Liz Collier

Documentary Producer

I’m a BAFTA winning documentary producer, I’m one of the people that works behind the scenes to make documentaries you might see on TV.

 

There are lots of different types of documentaries but the type I mostly work on are called observational documentary which always feature real people and take the viewers behind closed doors, into situations and worlds that you wouldn’t get to experience every day.

 

I started my career in-house at the BBC and then went into the freelance world as a Producer and Series Producer. I now work as an Executive Producer.  I’ve worked on 24 Hours in A&E (C4), 24 Hours in Police Custody (C4), Cutting Edge (C4), Gun No. 6 (Cinema & BBC2) Horizon (BBC2) Keeping Britain Alive (BBC2). A few years ago I lived in India making Delhi Cops about the experiences of young women and men policing India’s most dangerous city. I’m currently making a series about law and order in the USA.

 

I’m interested in stories about social justice and the justice system and in how we, as humans, relate to each other in the most challenging moments, and ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations.

What made you want to go into your career path? 

 

When I was kid I loved watching films and documentaries on TV, but even more than the films themselves, I was obsessed with the “behind the scenes” features to see how things were made. I was really interested in the people making them and I knew I wanted to be one of those people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Did you always think you’d go into this career? How does it compare to how you thought it would be? 

 

What I love about my job is that every day is completely different and the process of filming real people always throws up expected challenges and can take you to very unexpected places. It keeps you on your toes. There is no typical week, you have to be good at change and adapting very quickly.  It is definitely not a 9 to 5 life.

 

Documentaries almost always take a team of people to produce – it’s a real team effort. Most people know about directors and producers but there are many other jobs from runners, researchers, archive producers, production co-ordinators,  production managers, camera people, sound recordists, to editors and more. Every job has an important part to play and you need all of these people working collaboratively to achieve what you see on TV.


How was life at school?

I am dyslexic so I sometimes found school challenging, but in my last years of senior school, I got the chance to experiment with a huge video camera (we didn’t have cameras phones then).  I wasn’t very good at filming at first, but when I discovered I could tell stories with a camera it was a revelation and I found my way of processing the world around me.



How did you get into your career? 

My first proper break was when I got a job at the BBC as a production secretary through a temp agency, it was only meant to be for 3 months but I ended up getting a rolling contract and I stayed  for 4 years. I got to work as a secretary and production co-ordinator on lots of different things from documentaries to live entertainment shows including one of the early series of Strictly Come Dancing. I was mostly helping to organise the filming and it was great because I got to experience many different types of programme and got to work with lots of different people.

 

Through these different experiences I started to realise my heart was in making documentaries so I decided to work as a freelancer and left the BBC to get more experience with independent companies and I worked my way up from there.


What do you enjoy most about it?

I’m a person who is very curious about people’s stories and what it means to be human. I love that making working on documentaries makes demands that you immerse yourself in real stories. It’s your job to find a responsible, compassionate and creative way to bring them to a large audience of people watching on television.  

 

I honestly believe that real life is more interesting than fiction and true stories can have a stronger and more powerful impact on people.


What are your ambitions?

To keep working on projects that make people see the world in different and eye opening ways. 
 
Tell us a fun story about your work  

I’ve got lots to share in person!

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