S1 E8: TRANG DAM - CONTENT PRODUCER
When you consider the road Trang Dam traveled to get where she is today, you can understand how she’s able to handle the most harrowing aspects of every project she works on. As a one-year-old, she left Vietnam and migrated to the U.S., establishing a home in Columbia, MD.
From there, Trang provided a glimpse of what she’d ultimately become when she started producing music videos and commercials with her cousins. She was the linchpin of her A/V club in high school, and then went on to study multi-media design in college and beyond.
You begin to see that Trang is a different kind of “producer.” She is skilled at graphic and digital design, photography, video editing, and storytelling. Pile on to that her comprehensive knowledge of production and post-production, and you have a Jack of All Trades, Master of All.
In this episode, Trang talks about whether or not it’s true that she carries a knife on her at all times, as well as what it’s like to work with stars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and world champion skier Lindsey Vonn. Here are Three Big How’s from someone who is able to tackle pressure situations with an unparalleled level of kindness and effectiveness:
THREE BIG HOW’S
Seems obvious, but many insights do. Regarding production, this means getting a job on the set of a photo shoot, video shoot, or any type of content shoot. The job Trang references is being a PA, which is someone who will be asked to do basically anything on a set. (This sentiment was also shared by previous guest Gary Land.) If you want to be a Producer, you have to know everything; to know everything, you have to start at the beginning and bottom. Sounds tough—and it is—but many people become addicted to “set life,” and producers are obviously among them.
DATA & RESEARCH
Sounds exciting, right? Part of Trang’s job relies on finding out what works and also trying new things. “What works” is determined by the effectiveness of the content…how many people it reaches, how many views it gets, what kind of revenue it drives. That’s where the data comes in. At the same time, trying new things introduces a new level of uncertainty on creative projects where budget and timing are of utmost importance. To balance that out, Trang continually researches “industry” best practices and the latest breakthroughs happening in everything from movies to streaming services to social media.
Producing content can get very technical. No matter how well versed you are, you probably can’t really know everything. But, you need to know enough to ensure you’re prepared to manage the unexpected. Trang brought up the example of knowing the ins and outs of operating a camera. Specifically, she used the instance of a director wanting to use what’s called a Phantom camera to shoot high-speed footage. This camera gives you the ability to show action in super slow motion, enabling the director to really romance a particular shot. However, shooting with a Phantom and watching playback after the shot takes a very long time. Therefore, the producer needs to inform the crew and director how this could affect the rest of a shoot and either make sacrifices or not. (Very technical and specific example and, in real life, the team would go into the shoot knowing what cameras are going to be utilized, but the point is you have to know enough to know how to handle these things.)
Sorry for getting deep into the weeds on this one, but that’s production. Trang is a true all-star, facing every situation without blinking an eye. As a student of the creative process, she’s able to operate with all stakeholders on a big production and manage the outcomes with savvy and the goal always in mind.